Technology Principals – Standards

Being open to a change in direction

If you want your business to get ahead, then you can’t afford to be dragged back by old technology. Open standards provide a way for your organization to embrace innovation. The very nature of what business leaders think of as
an enterprise is changing. No longer tightly confined to a specific market, the successful business of the future will be collaborative and technology-enabled by definition.

To be agile enough to compete in this highly connected and dynamic marketplace, enterprises will need to take
control of their data and technology. They will use this control to participate and innovate in an environment
where consumers will receive goods and services through ecosystems.

The successful enterprises will evolve from centralized, to distributed, and ultimately to decentralized system
architectures to become what we call the Portable Enterprise. And to do that, they will need to embrace the full potential and innovation in open standards and technologies, which become critical for several reasons.

The increasingly connected world that organizations operate in is fostering the creation of customer, client and partner ecosystems. The exchange of data within these ecosystems can only take place through effective use of standards, such as application programming interfaces (APIs).

Business leaders must also recognize that technology continues to evolve rapidly, with innovations being pushed as the new ‘must-have’. Skipping the hyperbole and investing in the technologies that address business objectives is critical, as is the ability to protect against obsolescence and drag.

The COVID-19 situation means organizations must be even more adept at dealing with a fast-changing societal and business environment. This needs technology that is agile and resilient to help turn threats into opportunities, and those based on open standards will allow faster integration, better support, and freedom to switch.

How to avoid being held up in traffic

The Portable Enterprise sees standards as a way to enable, rather than inhibit, innovation. These organizations will interoperate seamlessly, exchanging information freely across enterprises boundaries to create new, compelling value chains. They will use open standards to take advantage of new technological innovations quickly – without adding complexity and risk.

Yet before this can happen, enterprises face challenges that need to be addressed. Most crucially, perhaps, businesses carry ‘technology debt’ in the form of legacy and closed technologies. These older technologies create security and compliance risk due to the cost of keeping these systems running and the dependency on a single vendor for maintenance.

Technology freedom remains a challenge. On the one hand, proprietary technologies have provided attractive
solutions to business challenges, but on the other, they can create innovation drag as they are costly to maintain or replace.

The integration of new systems and services is a time and cost sink. Enterprises dedicate too much resource
to integration, which reduces their ability to be agile. To achieve growth, business leaders need an enterprise
technology strategy that manages risk and is an enabler to exploit opportunities.

Moving into the fast lane

In its simplest form, the enterprise technology strategy has to cover a number of areas: fitness (agility, responsiveness, scalability); efficiency (costs, delivery and operations); resilience (continuity, recovery,
overcoming lock-in and obsolescence); and compliance (delivering technology that is secure, trusted and auditable).

A key task is to question which technologies will support the strategy, and which will not. We believe the answer is in looking at technology through the lens of standards. To this end, the delivery of an enterprise ready technology strategy in the future will be determined by a few key considerations.

First, the strategy must enable fast composition and re-composition of processes and services to enact rapid
reactions to business challenges across departmental and technological boundaries. There are approaches to achieve this, including promoting API-enabled architectures that can reuse and change components rapidly when the business need arises.

Secondly, the strategy must aim for business interoperability. This should be beyond the technical domain and into business and industry domains. Interoperability in this way (up the stack, as it is known) enables organizations to be collaborative at business, rather than just technical, levels.

Critically, the strategy must support the rise of decentralized ecosystems. This will manifest in the ability of businesses to participate in ecosystems of peers with shared trust and security models. Technologies are being developed to execute processes without being tied to any specific platform, using encryption and validation techniques that guarantee accuracy and resilience.

Putting your pedal to the metal

Standards have always been a key enabler to technology innovation, adoption and choice. Take the open standards of TCP and HTTP protocols, which have powered the World Wide Web, changing our world and enabling the rise of cloud computing. In the cloud, Kubernetes is now emerging as the de-facto standard for the management of applications. Enterprises, meanwhile, are currently planning for opportunities from a new era of connectivity through 5G, yet another standard.

Technology evolutions continue unbounded, creating a complex landscape which is challenging to decode.
Yet one of the constants we see is open standards and this should be factored into the technology strategy
decision-making process of the enterprise. Organizations that embrace open standards and open technologies will be well positioned to weather storms, embrace disruption and experience strong innovation fueled growth. Now is the time to look at becoming a Portable Enterprise.