We are a group of Digital Architects at Capgemini. Our approach is tooling agnostic and we 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 customer 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- Challenge 3: Outdated techniques and tools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 second blog of the series, I focus on the increase of touchpoints and data.
With an ever-growing number of smart devices and applications, organizations are struggling to deliver the desired customer experience. As consumers increasingly embrace smart products including cars, homes and appliances with features such as personalized assistants, AI-based notifications and video doorbells, there is a greater architectural complexity with diverse customer data touchpoints generating new data types. Majority of this data is stored in a cloud and made available real-time on other devices, such as mobile apps, web browsers and other applications. Making this data available anywhere and anytime exponentially increases the number of API-connections and amount of data flowing through your IT landscape. All of this is aimed at creating an experience which we call You. At Scale.
Increase in customer touchpoints
Today, a number of devices generate a large amount of data across the customer experience domains (Marketing, Sales, Service and Commerce) requiring a large number of connections. Enabling real-time and two-way communication between server and client, such as IoT sensors and microservices, increases the amount of data that is generated, stored, and streamed within the CX landscape. On the user side, there is an increasing number of smart and connected devices. Nowadays, you can check your email on your fridge and your car is connected to your calendar automatically setting your navigation in the morning. All things are made ‘smart’ and everything is “connected” to make our life easier and to put You. At Scale.
As companies know more about their customers, they understand their needs more deeply and can personalize interactions across touchpoints. However, obtaining such a state of connectivity requires a real-time and connected landscape, which can be a challenge for architects to achieve and maintain.
Increase in customer data
As companies adopt a customer-centric approach, they need to create the “customer 360” profile and personalize the customer journeys in order to increase retention and the overall experience across the CX domains. This requires an ability to handle significant amount of data per customer and an always-on and real-time connection between your customer data and customer platform applications through a customer data hub.
Microservices offer a good opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves by developing and scaling their IT landscape and aligning with their business goals. The usage of microservices differs across companies, ranging from none to an entire web shop with over 800 microservices just on the front end with each one generating data and often making it accessible through APIs.
The continuous increase in bandwidth and introduction of 5G is making data transfer easier and faster and enabling new types of connected applications and devices. 5G mobile connectivity offers a potential to reach up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). This will decrease the data sharing latency across connected products. Further, this will open new possibilities for companies in the field of augmented reality and IoT that will produce even more data.
How to address such challenges
There are many ways to address challenges posed by the increase in customer touchpoints and data. Some require a business solution and others need a more technical approach. There is no one solution that fits every company or every problem. Below are the two ways that can help you manage the complexity from an architectural perspective.
Agile methodology can be used not only for software development but also for architecture. One method for agile architecture is “SAFe.” Agile architecture embraces DevOps and provides the tools and practices to continuously evolve while supporting the business needs.
If you make your architecture more agile, you’ll be able to handle the increased number of connections and rapidly expanding data and data types. One way of doing this is to maintain a good balance between emergent and intentional design.
While emergent design is an incremental approach with self-organizing teams, intentional design is focused on planned architectural initiatives which increase the performance and usability of a design and enables synchronized implementations. When the two approaches are in balance, they can help you continuously build and extend the architectural runway that provides the technical foundation for business value proposition and makes you future ready.
While the architecture design of buildings and cities already requires looking at external factors such as weather conditions and needs help with activity allocation models, this approach is still not commonly used as part of IT architecture.
Architectural designs are often created in applications such as Visio, ArchiMate or even PowerPoint, where simulations are not possible. We have been working on prototypes with digital architectures and their simulations. This way we can visualize data streams and see the impact of the changes made on the architecture, as well as know the maximum load that your infrastructure can handle.
The increase in data flows and touchpoints will help companies become more customer focused and personalize the customer experience, thereby implementing the You. At Scale. This can be great for customers who seek simplified, integrated interactions and demand a customer journey that is more tailored to their needs. Delivering on this promise, though not without challenges, will help your company achieve a competitive advantage.
Do not miss out on the other architecture challenges and read the other blogs:
- Introduction – Architecting the ecosystem: 5 Challenges for 2020 and beyond
- Challenge 2: Manage a complex and dynamic ecosystem – Coming soon
- 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