This blog (in 2 parts) focuses on enabling clients application landscape to become Future Proof (often this takes the form of enabling clients to seize the Digital Future, enabling business models to be reborn in the Cloud, etc.) while being responsible for day-to-day AM. Part 1 of this blog deals with the relevance of Applications in today’s world and understanding Digital in the context of AM. Part 2 will touch upon the value scenarios for Cloud Architecture, blending of new and rejuvenated old applications (old by way of functional and or technical health) to deliver an effective Application Landscape and will reference multiple cases.
In today’s Digital world, is there still a business need for custom or customization of applications?
Arguably every organization wants to differentiate using the following moving parts, Business Model choice / Strategy / Segmentation / Products / Services / Locations / Customer Experience / Resource Management / Sales & Marketing / Policies, Business Processes, Workflows, Logic, Procedures / Price Point etc. Effective IT applications enabling these Business Capabilities need optimal level of uniqueness to deliver the ‘secret sauce’ that makes firms win in the marketplace (while applications enabling Support Functions need to be standardized or relatively less customized owing to the lower need for differentiation).
Should we junk all Old applications and get New applications built on cool Technology?
Decision Making would have been relatively simpler if all Old applications were largely of no value and all New applications were great (ignoring for a moment financial and time considerations); unfortunately reality is different (e.g. ‘secret sauce’ argument above). Hence it is imperative to capture the Digital Gold by blending seamlessly the Old and New applications in an effective Application Landscape, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!
What is this thing called Digital? How do we anticipate the unknown and harness it?
Digital attracts profound interpretations, viz. business model disruption? Empowerment of individuals over an enterprise? Technology innovations such as wearables, Driverless cars?
Given Digital’s transformative nature, enterprises want to land “where the puck is going to be” and not get locked up “where it has been” as in the hackneyed quote from Ice Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
Digital solutions that have been around for a while are easy to comprehend and help distill the key tenets for effective execution: I will use one developed by a Bank for a Consumer Goods (CG) firm to outline the tenets:
- Understand the client’s Strategic intent: Mission of the CG firm focuses on value creation and making a difference
- Start with Business insights: In Mexico, last mile delivery vehicles used to resemble armored vehicles since they would collect cash from Shopkeepers
- Answer what is in it for me?: Grow business, eliminate losses and cash mismatch disputes
- Clarity on Business Capabilities needed: Cash less Direct Store Delivery
- IT Capabilities to be delivered in a pragmatic manner: Drivers undertake Direct Store Delivery with a mobile App capable of editing and generating the Invoice and final amount to the Shopkeeper and the Bank. Based on a Credit Limit Check, a Receivable transaction is initiated by the Bank and an OTP is issued to the Shopkeeper. The Shopkeeper provides the OTP to the driver who passes the Authorization to the Bank. On receipt of this the Bank’s Settlement system debits the Shopkeeper’s and Credit Corporate Accounts, and an MIS entry is sent to the Distribution Center
- Target Operating Model to deliver Agility and institutionalization benefits: Sell the idea by Building a prototype and then Design the robust solution! Institutionalize by assembling enterprise-wide components based on ongoing harvesting from projects and injection of components to jump-start new projects.
In the Analyst Day session on Application Management, an example of a proactive Digital proposition, presented by the day-to-day engagement team to the CEO of a Retail Bank was discussed – such examples show how Business insights can also come from the extended team of Vendor Partners.
Futuristic Digital solutions tend to be harder to comprehend. Further confusion between Business Capabilities and IT elements complicates definition of a Target Operating Model and execution: By way of example, passengers in driverless cars could be CRM targets (subject to Opt-in) for a business model built on Shop and Collect enroute while on the road (triggered by viewing of a relevant hoarding or recent purchases)!
- Routine purchases can be made while on the road and collected enroute at drive-through pick-up points (along the same vein, Tesco in South Korea has the walls and pillars of subway train stations covered with Supermarket like planograms; QR codes of items can be used to order by commuters and the order is delivered to their doorstep)
- For Purchases that need additional consideration / trials: discovery and shortlisting can done while traveling in the driverless car (aided by video content, 3D holograms of the objects, ‘virtual wardrobe mirror’ like trials using the 3D profile of the passenger, their homes, etc., opinions of friends via Social Media – keep in mind that the interiors of driverless cars is likely to be different from today’s cars) after which a stop enroute can be made to physically experience the shortlisted items and shop
To deal with such ‘art of the possible’ Digital value scenarios I find it helpful to learn from how human’s imagine (the Shop and Collect enroute while on the road could well be the imagination of a consumer) and learn from how the human body works to deliver a winning proposition (after all it’s the work of The Ultimate Creator or Nature depending on one’s beliefs).
In the CRM example the seemingly abstract Business elements (first three rows) are executed by physical IT elements (last four rows) to deliver a relevant proposition to passengers in driverless cars (by the CRM suite and Offer engine using location information obtained from Mobile / Car Registration # / GPS via IT components aided by APIs) based on viewing of relevant hoardings (enabled by sensors) or most recent purchases of the passenger. This is potent when honed by conventional elements such as consumer insights, insights from transactions & interactions, and User opt-in (from the Sales & Opportunity management module of the CRM suite), etc.
The last element in the above analogy is particularly powerful since meaningful integration of granular data across Old and New systems is crucial to the success of most Digital endeavors – in as much as effective flow of blood signifies life in the human body.
Concluding Part to follow