Today, you talk to any CIO, attend any CDO conference and it would have a track about going Digital. Digital transformation is a sought out area to invest … err … throw money. Without knowing how digital is going to help you and what is the technology stack that can allow you to go truly digital, I do not recommend any CIO/CDO to get into the ring.
The 3 main objectives that any digital strategy should be focused on would be
- Customer Experience (CX)
- Operation Process
- Business Model
As Forrester suggests, you should not develop a digital strategy but you should rather Digitize your business strategy. You are the domain expert, you know your business best, you know who your competition is and again, you know how your customers like it. So, rather than trying to create a Digital Strategy and bolt on your business, you would rather try to digitize your business.
Many firms proudly point to their mobile app and proclaim, “hey, we’re digital!” While they may be driving incremental revenue, all they have done is bolt on another touchpoint. real digital businesses go much further, reshaping the way that they create value for their customers.
Hence, digitization has to be a strong combination of Customer Experience (CX) and Operational Excellence.
Ok, so I believe we get it for now that for being truly digital we need to digitize our business strategy. Now, the problem is that many organizations do it the wrong way. They would try to Digitize on the basis of their traditional practices. If the SAPs, Oracles of the world would have been able to digitize the business, you would have done it already. Again, there is nothing wrong with these big solutions but we have to start understanding whether they act as a catalyst or hinder our digital journey. The need of the hour is to get away from the traditional way of doing business to the modern Reactive way of building your ecosystem.
Let us see how reactive helps in this scenario.
According to the Reactive Manifesto,
Only a few years ago a large application had tens of servers, seconds of response time, hours of offline maintenance and gigabytes of data. Today applications are deployed on everything from mobile devices to cloud-based clusters running thousands of multi-core processors. Users expect millisecond response times and 100% uptime. Data is measured in Petabytes. Today’s demands are simply not met by yesterday’s software architectures.
Hence, the systems today have to be Responsive, Resilient, Elastic and Message Driven. Let us look at each of them individually,
Responsive: The system responds in a timely manner if at all possible. Responsiveness is the cornerstone of usability and utility, but more than that, responsiveness means that problems may be detected quickly and dealt with effectively. This closely relates to the customer experience (CX)
Resilient: The system stays responsive in the face of failure. This applies not only to highly available, mission critical systems — any system that is not resilient will be unresponsive after a failure. Again, the very corner of good customer experience and internal business operations.
Elastic: The system stays responsive under a varying workload. Reactive Systems can react to changes in the input rate by increasing or decreasing the resources allocated to service these inputs. The business processes and business domain should be able to scale to the demands of growing business.
Message Driven: Reactive Systems rely on asynchronous message-passing to establish a boundary between components that ensure loose coupling, isolation and location transparency. All the reactive systems and systems of today have to be based on an event-driven architecture to be responsive in milliseconds.
The main idea of digital is to
- Digitize the business strategy
- Help customers get the outcomes that they are looking for
- Increase business agility by operational excellence.
The key components for leading this digital journey are not the arcane legacy technology stacks but a Reactive stack of the future which builds on concepts like asynchronous message passing, non-blocking, elasticity, back-pressure, resilience and events at the heart of the system. Once you have these building blocks in place you would be able to build your Digital strategy which is agile and works for the customers and the operations alike thus allowing you to grow your business domain.
image courtesy: Forrester, Reactive Manifesto