Show me your application services portfolio and I’ll tell you about your company. The new reality of a Technology Business – keeping afloat in today’s more uncertain waters – demands application services to be built and delivered at high speed and in various incarnations; as close to the business as possible, yet responsive to every demand. For sure, these application services no longer resemble the applications we used to know, even the very notion of user interfaces is rapidly melting away. Although agile working through Minimum Viable Products is no longer the ‘new normal’, but the ‘well and truly established’, the quality of applications needs to be at enterprise level, as the trust balance of the organisation is always at risk.
The applications portfolio of a thriving Technology Business is lightweight, easy to connect to, and built on the shoulders of typical cloud-native capabilities; predicting and adapting to ever-changing demands and requirements – weathering every storm and floating seamlessly across the corporate ocean. Yet, applying a new applications blueprint is far from straight forward, as existing core systems – often born of another decade – are a reality to all but the youngest startups. To unleash the Technology Business applications blueprint, various steps should be considered:
- Simplify, rationalise and decommission existing applications. Once perceived as differentiating solutions for business growth, these applications have now become an anchor; heavy, cumbersome and slow to move, preventing the technology business ship from sailing out of the storm. Fast and flexible solutions enable a speedy response to change. Standard, industry best practice cloud applications are a quick way to break anchor and set sail. Loosely coupled layers over silo applications are another (such as bots, APIs and RPA). Whichever route you choose, it needs a dedicated captain and the mind of a tidying-up guru to actually get it done.
- Like water flowing through every nook and cranny, add a touch of ‘smart’ by augmenting existing or newly developed applications. AI services for areas including vision, speech, language, knowledge and predictive analytics are routinely available as microservices, penetrating any technology business stream and avoiding the alien realms of deep learning, neural networks, reinforcement learning and computer linguistics. And to ensure a steady flow, easy-to-use, conversational interfaces can be added – such as voice assistants or bots – to make application services that much easier and accessible to users.
- Just as the sea continuously laps against the shore, tide upon tide, new applications are constantly built and released – DevOps-style. As soon as one ebbs, another one forms. Quick iterations are jointly developed by business and IT teams, leveraging microservices, APIs, software containers, serverless computing and radically automated, high-productivity tools. Built-in analytics, cognitive AI capabilities and smart contracts further add to both the corporate IQ and the trust balance of the enterprise.
- It is the unleashed application that works in the most fluent and seamless way, harnessing power and seemingly anticipating the intentions of its users almost before they are expressed. Whatever the forecast, the application landscape needs to help us weather the storm, adjusting quickly and responding to change, to find those calmer waters ahead.