One of the biggest differentiators in technology development will be the ability to build on existing digital innovations — think artificial intelligence and blockchain. Companies that can integrate these technologies and engineer the innovations they enable will be the ones that get ahead.
In essence, this is the value of digital engineering. This process uses contemporary digital capabilities to supercharge an organization’s efficiency and value, enhance workflows, and transform user and employee experiences. Digital engineering solutions can produce a cascade of continuous innovation that grows with technical advances and customer needs.
A great example of successful digital engineering is how Apple, a product-based company, applied its engineering prowess during the development of Apple Pay, its tech-enabled payment service. With the preexisting “tokenization” method of digital dialogue, actual credit card numbers are never transmitted during payments.
Apple Pay works with near field communication-based payments anywhere. To support its payment process, Apple also innovated other security measures, including touch and face ID on certain iPhones and continuous skin contact for Apple Watch users.
The Near-Future of Effective Digital Engineering
For tech companies to stay competitive, their digital engineering needs to focus not only on effectively designing products, but also on building solutions and services in coordination with those products. Cloud enablement is a perfect example of this.
Customers are shifting more and more toward software enabled by and based within the cloud. Obviously, another essential initiative is ensuring your products are cloud-enabled.
But there’s more to digital engineering than creating new products or processes. Sure, you can build a cloud-compatible product — but without looking at how your business and information technology will support it, you’ll undershoot the mark for continuous segment growth. Instead, you should take a holistic view during the engineering processes. How will you sell and upsell? How will you continuously support and enhance the sale for the user? Take a broader look at how your company’s systems can support digital engineering.
3 Strategies for Successful Digital Engineering
Unlocking value from your digital engineering practices will require some strategic overhauls. By applying the following strategies, you’ll build the foundation for a high-powered software engineering lab that evolves in tandem with your products:
1. Modernize your engineering processes. Get your products moving faster within the cloud and modernize your entire engineering approach. This can mean new ways of working or perhaps thinking in a more agile way. Can you create a system to determine ways to bring blockchain, AI, or telemetry innovations to your product in valuable ways?
2. Build iterative support structures. This strategy requires data. Customers increasingly use open source solutions, but who handles open source support? How do you model open source support in a way that generates valuable data? Iterative support structures keep the data moving toward its destination. Develop these new products and continue to iterate on them after their launch.
3. Adopt an end-to-end view. Success in digital engineering relies on an end-to-end view of each innovation and its eventual implications. Consider what your processes teach people and how they impact your organization down the road. As you move into subscription services, for example, do you modify your e-commerce plans? Can product telemetry automatically resolve customer issues?
It’s equally important to engineer the employee experience from end to end. Drive an employee productivity initiative so your employees can collaborate effortlessly. They’ll reach goals more expediently while becoming more collaborative and engaged.
Fundamentally speaking, the mental shift required for successful digital engineering is simple. But when it’s applied across the board to every end-user experience, the results of digital engineering practices can take on a regenerative, self-sustaining life of their own.