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Overcoming a Digital Transformation Challenge. Part 1 – Realisation.

Posted on: July 23, 2018

by Kevin Jervis, Chief Architect @ Ricston

I’m sure many of us appreciate that digital transformation is the “business dilemma du jour” – businesses face an unprecedented demand to rapidly respond to change and deliver more capabilities, ever more quickly. Those who fail to adapt fast enough will struggle and more importantly endanger their company’s sustainability in the longer term.

But why in the age of cutting edge IT, digital transformation is so challenging?

New digital forces, such as Cloud, SaaS, IoT, Machine Learning and AI are creating not only opportunities, but also an unsustainable pressure on the already constrained elements within organisations. IT departments are tasked to actually deliver on these capabilities, which in turn creates an IT delivery gap.

And there is no end to it – unlike traditional companies of yesterday, the digital business is not focused on optimising existing processes – why would they, when there is no well defined target state!

The landscape in which they operate is continuously changing and evolving. Companies that can deal with this challenge most effectively are the ones accepting that change as inevitable and who are able to focus their efforts on quickly reacting to these changes.

They do so by placing organisational value on their ability to experiment, fail fast, iterate, learn, and then adapt based on their discoveries; and to do so within increasingly shorter feedback cycles.

… companies that do well in the digital world are customer-centric, highly automated, aren’t afraid of failure
~ Gregor Hohpe, Technical Director, Google

Therefore modern businesses need to understand that IT should focus not just on delivering projects to service immediate needs, but on building a composable platform within their organisation that supports both current and future requirements.

To remain competitive organisations must reconfigure their business around discoverable digital capabilities that increase their “rate of change” to be in a better position to respond to feedback and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

The way companies drive competitive advantage,
is not the applications that they run,
but the way they can connect, compose and recompose
their digital assets and capabilities into new products and services.
~ Ross Mason, founder of MuleSoft

What are the digital assets that empower these desired organisational behaviours and abilities?

Based on our experience, the answer is: API’s. Only APIs have the potential to encapsulate and expose reusable business data and capabilities; in doing so they form a fundamental building block that can incrementally empower the business.

But it’s not any API that constitutes an asset. In order to truly bring added value to a business these API’s must be treated as internal products and as such will possess the following characteristics:

  • Have a product owner – that is dedicated to their adoption and is responsible for deciding how to evolve and improve the API over time, based on consumer feedback.
  • Have a lifecycle that transcends any project delivery function.
  • Designed for consumption, discoverable and available for reuse and self-service.

Definitely one would need appropriate tooling in place to be in a position to follow all of these principles and to fully realise a company’s vision. In our practice, we work with MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, since it’s a single platform that supports full life-cycle API management (cradle-to-grave); hybrid deployment landscapes (public cloud, private cloud, private data-centre and iPass); and publication, discovery and consumption of digitals assets through Exchange.

Technology is only an enabler – not a silver bullet!

For many businesses desiring to follow in the footsteps of modern digital companies, this means crossing the chasm between traditional mindsets and practices they’ve used in the past for managing “IT projects” and adopting new ideas needed to align with “Digital Products”.

In our experience the most successful organisations are those who holistically tackle the cultural shift, in terms of the organisation and initiating the process and people changes necessary to maximise the intended business outcomes when implementing an API led connectivity platform.

This includes putting in place an effective API strategy, reconfiguring delivery processes for continuous delivery and using data to measure results and drive further organisation improvements – the 3 themes, that I would like to elaborate on in the next article.

Read more “Overcoming a Digital Transformation Challenge. Part 2 – Implementation.” 

If you would like to learn more about Digital Assets and how they can create value for your business, I invite you to join our webinar that is now available on demand:

Digital Assets, Creating Value?

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Ricston Ltd.
Triq G.F. Agius De Soldanis,
Birkirkara, BKR 4850,
Malta
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