Regardless of the business you’re in, if you have IT systems you’ll be affected, in one way or another, by external digital megatrends that lie outside your control. Here, we’ll examine the implications of these trends i.e., the Operational Changes that ensue within an organization. We’ll also briefly look at what that means for IT systems now, and in the future.
Causes of Operational Change
The way organizations perform their business functions never changes purely for the sake of technology alone. You don’t spend money implementing a new system just because it’s the latest cool approach. Rather, it is some external event, usually these days resulting from a digital megatrend, that impacts the business and stimulates change.
So, what are these so-called digital megatrends?
For a start, we have the move to 5G cellular networks. Offering greater download/upload speeds, low latency and more connectivity for billions of devices, it will be the backbone behind other megatrends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented / Virtual Reality, and Machine Learning.
The remote multi-sensor capabilities of an IoT solution offers enormous benefits in areas such as autonomous vehicle management, security systems, connected appliances, wearable health monitors and so on. It also leads to massive amounts of data that must be transmitted and processed.
Increasingly, the retail industry for example, relies on Augmented Reality – letting you see that new couch right in the middle of your living room, from the picture you just uploaded to their app. Training organizations are using Virtual Reality for a more immersive learning experience.
Machine Learning is finding its way into everything from medical diagnosis, to parcel logistics, to financial services.
And then there is the megatrend of Digital Transformation. This ‘catch-all’ term can refer to the above examples or can be, for example, what an organization calls ‘going paperless’.
Our final megatrend is the increasing adoption of multi-cloud-based IT systems, driven by the cost savings and increased performance of putting as much of your IT system as possible in the cloud.
The extent to which any of the above affects your organization of course, depends upon the nature of your business. But one thing is for sure, you are or will be affected and this will lead to changes in how your organization operates.
4 Areas of Operational Change
No matter what changes you need to make, they fall into one or more of the following categories:
Enhanced customer focus
Increased market agility
Enhanced Customer Focus
If you’re in the retail business for example, you’ll know the importance of customer retention and upselling. A positive customer experience on your app or website for orders, returns or just questions is crucial. Delivery times, response times and accuracy are equally as important.
All this ties back to our digital megatrends – in terms of processing / serving data, communications, Augmented Reality and so on.
If parcel logistics is your business, then concepts and technologies such as Analytics-as-a-Service, Logistics Control Towers, Less-Than-Load (LTL), shared transport and Multi Enterprise Supply Chain Busineas Networks (MESCBN) will be increasingly familiar. While we won’t go into these here, it suffices to say that streamlining processes lies at the heart of these.
Clear benefits from process optimization for any industry include accelerating time to value; increasing productivity; reducing infrastructure cost and of course there are many more.
Thinking back to our digital megatrends, going paperless – a type of digital transformation, leads to process optimization. Machine Learning and the benefits of multi-cloud systems are also key factors in streamlining business processes.
Going back to our retail example, marketing products based on a customer’s previous purchase history is increasingly the norm. Making intelligent data-driven decisions, based on in-depth analysis cannot only lead to increased sales revenue, but can help target demographics and market segments, thereby reducing business risk.
The term ‘Big Data’ is increasingly commonplace. Perhaps one of the greatest future benefits to humankind is that of predictive analytics for healthcare. Detailed patient scans, yielding masses of data, allied to Machine-Learning algorithms can help diagnose, as well as predict and potentially prevent certain diseases. Meanwhile in the financial services sector, predictive analytics drives areas such as stock trading and insurance policies.
By now you should see the pattern – of tiebacks to our megatrends. Machine Learning, multi-cloud for storage and processing, and 5G communication are all the foundation to data-driven decisions.
Machine Learning and the benefits of multi-cloud systems are also key factors in streamlining business processes.
Increased Market Agility
Businesses rarely have the luxury of a monopoly on a market these days. Many industries are extremely competitive. Markets can change overnight. The word ‘pivoting’ has become a part of normal business vocabulary. Taking advantage of a new market opportunity, opening in a new location, closing a line of business are all part of being agile as a business and are their own category of operational changes.
And for IT systems…
Industry megatrends are reshaping business and causing the operational changes we’ve looked at. These in turn place new requirements on IT systems.
To store increasing masses of data; to send and receive at ever-increasing rates with more endpoints; to apply complex machine learning algorithms; and to use the benefits of multi-cloud deployment for all this, mean the systems of the future must have specific capabilities.
They need to be:
- Data centric – designed from the ground up to handle mass data
- High-performing – to apply complex processing and handle high transmission speeds
- Scalable – Both upwards and downwards to handle load cost-effectively
- Resilient – Handling failures predictably and gracefully; not crashing or degrading
- Efficient – Running on multi-cloud, using resources appropriately
Whilst operational change within an organization is driven by external events such as the digital megatrends we have seen, it is also driven by its strategy and culture.
The strategy needs to view IT systems as a business enabler, meaning they actively contribute to the bottom line. Increasingly, organizations view their IT departments and systems in this way, and not merely as a sunk cost. The cultural element needs to embrace change, be willing to learn and accept that although they may know the business domain and operational changes well, they may need external expertise to modernize their systems.
To that end, the use of modern concepts such Reactive Systems, which are responsive, resilient and elastic, via a message-driven software architecture are needed. Utilizing the benefits of open-source code and modern deployment techniques, YoppWorks specializes in planning and building such systems. Running these systems for clients is also an option. To learn more, please see Reactive Architecture on the website.