Architecting the ecosystem, five challenges for 2020 and beyond – challenge 2: Manage a complex and dynamic ecosystem
We are a group of digital architects at Capgemini who are tooling agnostic and address the full breadth of the customer experience landscape. The group consists of Hans van Rijs, Robin van den Hoven, David Salguero Kuiters, and Remco Stolp. Together, we address five architectural challenges for 2020 and beyond in a series of blogs.
The challenges we see are:
- Challenge 1: Increase in touchpoints and data
- Challenge 2: Manage a complex and dynamic ecosystem
- Challenge 3: Outdated techniques and tools
- Challenge 4: Work silos
- Challenge 5: Getting insight in both private and work domains
In this third blog of the series I will focus on challenge 2: Manage a complex and dynamic ecosystem.
For years, businesses have been experiencing increasing pressure to adapt faster and at the same time to work more efficiently and less expensively. As always, these challenges are met by integrating IT systems to provide more functionality or by splitting systems into smaller pieces to create a greater degree of flexibility. These ongoing developments create a more complex and more extensive IT landscape.
Challenge 2: Manage a complex and dynamic customer experience ecosystem
This leads to the situation where the architect needs to manage an increasingly complex and dynamic ecosystem. The architects also have to manage frequent implementations of new versions of software, new user stories, and the impact of new regulations. At the same time, questions about the cost, efficiency, and effectiveness of future scenarios in this ecosystem become increasingly important.
Combining as much of the ecosystem in a vanilla implementation of a CX platform is a smart way to follow each update of the new cloud tooling available. Keeping the implementations as vanilla as possible makes it easier to adapt the frequent new versions of the SaaS tooling.
These new versions often allow the business users to deliver new user stories or even epics because the suppliers roadmaps are driven by demand from their customers, especially their frontrunners. This allows smart followers and others to benefit from those frontrunners’ expertise. Sticking to one ecosystem is efficient because it limits the number of skillsets necessary to continue further configuration and adaptation to the business needs.
When looking at cost, at first glance CX platforms might appear more expensive than best-of- breed/point solutions. But taking into account the entire landscape involved, costs are usually much more in favor of a platform. Think about having to create all integrations by yourself versus configuring the correct settings to connect out of the box and under supervision of the supplier. Then there are fewer teams involved in development and maintenance when working on a platform. This enhances flexibility and speed. When adding the security layers needed when exchanging customer data and the additional complexity of application maintenance, the integral costs and especially efficiency tend to favor the platforms.
On the other hand, there is the trend to move towards microservices to allow delivery of user stories and epics that are highly adapted to the specificities of a business. Microservices make it possible to take one feature and make it perform exactly as the business desires without disturbing the rest of the IT landscape. It reduces the amount of regression testing needed when deploying a new feature when compared to a large, monolithic, customized environment that has multiple teams working on the same code base.
Microservices can be very cost-effective as well, only the functionality that is actually required is created and nothing else. However, adapting a microservices strategy requires a high digital maturity within the entire enterprise and a well-trained team of developers. The role that integrations and version management play becomes much more advanced when using microservices. This is because each microservice created needs to integrate with other tooling to deliver value. Continuous development of the microservices requires backward compatibilities and clear descriptions of the integrations and their subscribers to assure proper deployments without the chaos of breaking connections.
How can architects deal with this?
Architects can deal with this challenge by focusing on where the business needs to make a difference to support your business model and strategy. That’s where you might want to diverge into customization, microservices, or best-of-breed solutions. For all the other business functions, architects should guide their business in adopting the industry standards and potentially adapt business processes to fit these standards.
What does this mean for the Digital Customer Experience (DCX) architect?
- The DCX architect needs close alignment with the business strategy and a full understanding of where the difference needs to be made with regard to the competition – at the same time being aware of the tooling available in the DCX landscape, its boundaries and limitations, and its specific use cases.
- The DCX architect needs to understand the high level of integration necessary to have a proper executable customer 360, and how to make choices between point integrations versus integrations through an ESB. They have to understand what best practices and patterns are available to properly document any deviation from the company standards.
Summarized… and concluding
In this second challenge, managing a complex and dynamic ecosystem, there are choices to be made. These decisions are based on the business strategy and range from following the industry standards by using a DCX platform to using very targeted microservices.
Don’t miss out on the other architecture challenges and read the other blogs:
- Introduction –Architecting the ecosystem: 5 Challenges for 2020 and beyond
- Challenge 1: Increase in touchpoints and data
- Challenge 3: Outdated techniques and tools – Coming soon
- Challenge 4: Work silos – Coming soon
- Challenge 5: Getting insight in both private and work domains – Coming soon