How many times has this happened to you: to solve a business problem or exploit an interesting niche before the competition spots it, you need a technology solution to do a, b, c. You visit the IT department to get clearance for the project – and nine times out of ten, they say ‘No,’ ‘It’s against policy,’ ‘We don’t have the capacity,’ ‘Sorry, we would help you, but there are ten projects ahead of you in the queue.’
Welcome to the world of the IT business blocker, rather than business enabler. Let’s be clear, the IT department isn’t being obstructive for the sake of it; there are good governance, budget and priority reasons why it can’t offer immediate assistance. However, is there any way out of this negative loop we’ve all been in, probably more than once? Up until now: no.
After all, enterprise business tools are multi-million pound projects that need months to plan and implement. Your idea was either this scale, so just not possible to fit in the calendar, or so trivial in IT’s eyes that its claim to resource couldn’t be prioritised over the properly legitimate large-scale projects. To be clear, the IT department are not being obstructive for the sake of it; there are sound governance, budget and priority issues which means they can’t come to your assistance.
Maybe we have, at last, a way through this – in the shape of cloud-based business software that doesn’t need to be bedded in at great cost and labour. What we are saying is that you can now look to “edge integration,” using cloud at the points on your workflow or new process, something that doesn’t need any big-deal IT involvement. You get your project, the IT department’s fiefdom remains secure – and importantly, a great new business opportunity or idea comes to fruition.
How does this work? Take our approach to applying technology to a business issue. Customers identify a problem. We don’t need to build an interface; we don’t need to look into their systems because we’re not integrating or pulling data out – so their APIs are safe. Instead, they give us their data, we add our value, and then we push it all out to the customer to manage in whatever way is best.
Customers tell us 98% of the benefit they derive from working with us comes without having any integration at all. This is because we are moving as global businesses to the RESTful (Representational State Transfer) type of interaction, where data is pushed and action happens somewhere and data is pushed back. Why? The central feature distinguishing the REST architectural style from other network-based styles is an emphasis on a uniform interface between components.
By applying the best practice software engineering principle of ‘generality’ to the component interface, overall system architecture is simplified and the visibility of interactions gets radically improved. Implementations can be decoupled from the services they provide, which encourages independent evolution of the business functionality. This is how IT should be: responsive, adaptable and light-touch – something it hasn’t been for far too long now.
Most experts in business and IT say that it’s only by a switch over to flexible, light-touch delivery – through technologies and techniques that deploy the protocols of the modern Web architecture, namely Agile development approaches and the cloud as your delivery model – that you can get to a mindset where the contribution of the technology is to the point. Let’s be honest, that’s in stark contrast to any kind of over-concentration on the integration process and the heavy-handed embedding of it that our customary approach to business IT has come to resemble.
As soon as the focus switches to these modern information architectures, the next logical question is ‘How can we improve that process or introduce new service offerings?’ That’s absolutely as it should be. After all, with all the interface building and integration that traditional approach encouraged, it’s very hard to modify systems and processes.
If you’re focused on ‘integration excitement,’ after all, how do you iterate? How do you change, grow and experiment – and see what small but effective tweaks you need to make to your business process or service offering? Where in this frenzy of integration activity is the ‘what-if’ capability in all this that could provide the crucial insight to help you make advances?
It’s time to get excited again about what we can do with technology, and not congratulate ourselves for having integrated this particular system with this system. It’s just not enough.
By deploying software based on the modern Web architecture, there’s no need for challenging or clunky integration – actually, there’s no need for IT to get involved per se. This means an end to those big deal IT projects that stop IT helping you. Those projects still matter – but they don’t have to be all that technology means now.
Which means you as the business get the project you want, IT’s fiefdom remains secure – but more importantly, a great new business opportunity or idea comes to fruition that helps you, your customer and the business.