"The old order changeth yielding place to new," said Tennyson. We are seeing technology in various forms causing sweeping changes in the enterprise. The multitude of mobile devices, the pervasiveness of social media, the ubiquity of cloud platforms and Software as a Service (SAAS), the shift to Do it Yourself (DIY) and the flood of big data are changing the way enterprises look at IT. Organizations that quickly and effectively build business competencies leveraging software and intelligence will definitely be among the frontrunners in the race to the top in their respective sectors.
Turn the clock back a few decades, when enterprises began to focus on building robust capabilities across the value chain, helping organizations gain visibility on various business processes. The result: discreet, tightly coupled information systems termed as ‘Systems of Record’ (SOR) that paved the way for today’s extremely complex and high-maintenance information highways. Then came globalization, and organizations felt compelled to differentiate in the intensely competitive marketplace. Soon, the trend of consumerisation of IT also set in, propelling enterprises to think beyond organizational boundaries, and to actively engage in a context-relevant manner with all the stakeholders – partners, employees and customers. This in turn led to the creation of engagement platforms that gave users integrated, contextual and multichannel access to all kinds of relevant content related to transactions, collaboration and communications, driving actionable insights to deliver higher business performance.
The emergence of these systems, termed ‘Systems of Engagement’ (SOE), has however led to a problem: the traditional ‘Systems of Record’ are not designed to handle all the demands typically posed by the ‘Systems of Engagement’, such as the need to shift focus from transactions to interactions, and from stability to dynamism. Enterprises therefore find themselves at a crossroads, and are trying hard to connect the two systems by standardizing and automating their ‘Systems of Record’, transforming it and rendering it flexible enough to adapt to the ‘Systems of Engagement’ in the ever-changing business landscape. This is the challenge for us vendors, one that we need to meet head-on.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So first, set goals for achieving the required outcomes. My belief that ‘applications’ form the core of the desired digital transformation, will drive the applications strategy in the future. My suggestion to applications businesses would be to adopt a solution-driven approach, clearly articulating the value proposition and the go-to-market strategy, achieving better domain and process understanding and gaining deep technology and architecture expertise.
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