One of the biggest trends to emerge in recent years is digital business transformation: the integration and application of digital technologies in ways that lead to fundamental changes at all levels of business operations.
In the coming year, Digital Business Platforms will take center stage as the way for businesses engaged in digital business transformation to achieve competitive advantage.
Of course, digital technology platforms have been around for as long as digital technologies have been applied to real-world situations. What’s new is the comprehensive nature of Digital Business Platforms, also known as Digital Transformation Platforms.
These integrated platforms encompass the convergence of multiple major technology streams, including big data, data analytics, AI, machine learning, cloud, mobility, security, social media, cognitive computing, and digital disruption and transformation. Digital Business Platforms will serve as the cornerstone of digital business transformation efforts, providing new levels of openness and extensibility to development teams. They should be architectured in a way that they are configurable so only the capabilities needed are deployed and used.
Digital Business Platforms are being propelled by:
- Business focusing on the developer experience, wanting developers to be able to build, test, and deploy enterprise applications faster and iteratively
- Predictive-first applications that enable people to work smarter, reduce workloads, and improve customer engagement
- A new generation of business process management (BPM) offerings that offer greater flexibility, ease of use, and interoperability with other classes of business software
Emphasis on User Experience
Successful digital business transformation will increasingly rely on organizations’ ability to deliver great user experiences. For too long, the concept of ‘user experience’ has been conflated with ‘user interface’—which represents only a fraction of the complete user experience. The user experience as a whole includes a well-designed, easy-to-use user interface backed by agile, simple, and efficient processing of all the underlying business processes.
In any business application, each user action kicks off a business process. The process, or business logic, behind the application affects how the user interacts with the application, but so do processes undertaken by employees and automated systems (e.g., databases, email, CRMs, and so on). A truly great user experience, whether for customers or employees, extends from the user interface all the way through the last step of the process.
By converging the technologies crucial for digital business transformation into a single, cohesive entity, Digital Business Platforms make it easier for organizations to create great user experiences. These platforms provide a common resource that next-generation BPM solutions can leverage to manage the various steps necessary for any particular company’s user-experience delivery.
Also on the Horizon: Blockchain Development Platforms
Blockchain will finally escape its reputation as being synonymous with bitcoin! It will increasingly be used as a technology for secure collaboration among partners, customers, regulatory bodies, and even potential competitors.
Digital business platforms offer a way to simplify the development of blockchain applications, which is useful in any context where organizations need to securely collaborate with others outside their organizations.
For example, consider the insurance industry, where providers work together in some domains, but compete in others. An insurance agency can use blockchain technology to manage and validate transactions with other entities using cryptography and algorithms instead of the regulations and processes imposed by any central authority or clearinghouse. By eliminating the middleman or central authority, the insurance agency can establish and verify transactions in seconds or minutes; interact with partners and competitors with greater accuracy and security; avoid fraud and human errors; and save costs through greater efficiency.
Because the key concepts of blockchain are complementary with BPM technology, blockchain-BPM integration can further streamline the construction of blockchain applications—enabling production-ready blockchain applications to be built in less time and with less risk, while also enabling those applications to be reused and updated more smoothly.
Putting Priorities in Place
Technology managers involved in digital business transformation will need to adopt the following priorities:
- Focus on digital user experiences for both customers and employees.
- Improve exception management for existing services and offerings through the application of next-generation BPM technologies.
- Allocate more financial and development resources toward security, including consideration of how blockchain technologies might play a role.