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For many corporations, welcoming the New Year also heralds the season of strategy development and budget distribution. This year, however, companies of all sizes are struggling with how to deal with the accelerating consumerization of technology and the mind numbing societal changes it brings. While each industry vertical has its own processes and business models to deal with, they all share a pressing need to develop an appropriate digital strategy. For 2017 this seems to be at the top of every executive to do list.
Business strategy experts around the world have categorically stated that data is now a strategic asset that can be sold and exchanged. In order to identify important data and manage it in a digitally driven future, companies will need to evaluate their organization’s structure, go-to-market approach, and overall corporate identity. Accomplishing this task effectively requires these companies to first establish their role within the new data economy. To do this, IBM experts have created the Data Economy Framework which is used to characterize companies, their roles, capabilities, and overall trends in how they act in the data-driven digital economy. Specifically, will your company become a:
- Data Producer - generate data from IoT and traditional big data sources (i.e. business applications, social media, websites, open sources, financial transactions, surveys, censuses, and digitized hard copies);
- Data Aggregator/Custodian – provide data normalization services that enables data collection from heterogeneous devices and efficient data distribution;
- Platform Owner – provide application programming interfaces (APIs) for connectivity and ecosystem device discovery;
- Insight Provider – design and development of the semantic models, analytics libraries and machine learning techniques necessary for taking efficient and effective action based on data; or
- Data Presenter - make complex and large datasets easy for business users to consume. They also allow consumers to have intuitive access to the underlying data and its derivatives.
Once you have settle on your desired role, experts offer up four strategic pillars that must be addressed when executing on a corporate digital strategy:
- Executing processes on a resilient digital platform that’s secure, available on demand and easy to set up and use;
- Offering anytime, anywhere digital insights, driven by analytics;
- Creating a digital workforce platform of connected workers, using advanced monitoring, search and analytics tools; and
- Proactively managing a digital innovation ecosystem comprising multiple partners to incorporate the latest technologies.
Digital transformation will also require reconfiguring both your corporate front and back office operations for digital execution. Microservices and serverless computing are at the heart of this process. Serverless computing, also known as Function as a Service (FaaS), is a cloud computing code execution model in which the cloud provider fully manages starting and stopping virtual machines as necessary to serve requests Requests are billed by an abstract measure of the resources required to satisfy the request, rather than per virtual machine hour. One of the leading serverless computing options is IBM’s OpenWhisk. It uses business rules to bind events, triggers, and actions to each other. OpenWhisk actions run automatically only when needed. Its servlerless architecture is quickly instantiated with the scalability needed to meet the evolving demands of the modern user.
Microservices is a service-oriented architectures (SOA) specialization used to build flexible, independently deployable software systems. “Services” in a microservice architecture (MSA) are processes that communicate with each other over a network in order to fulfill a business goal. These services also use technology-agnostic protocols. This option represents a modern approach to software architecture for systems where continuous integration and DevOps are practiced. In its core, the microservice architecture advocates partitioning large monolithic applications into smaller independent services that communicate with each other by using HTTP and messages. The architecture pattern is a child of the continuous integration revolution and is designed for deployments that use a DevOps-based continuous delivery model.
In summary, developing a new digital strategy for you company requires you to:
- Select the right digital economy role for your company’s business future;
- Design implementation steps that align with the four strategic pillars of digital strategy execution; and
- Reconfiguring corporate front and back office operations in ways that take advantage of microservices and serverless computing.
Make 2017 the year your company creates its digitally driven future.
This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.com.
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