Attaining Agility for the Digital Enterprise

As companies journey past the pandemic era, certain trends have crystalized. Consumers across wide sectors have accelerated the move away from ingrained shopping habits, moving to ecommerce in every sphere. Businesses had to respond, finding new ways to connect to their customers on, for many, new channels of interaction. Technology has conditioned consumers to believe they can get whatever they want, whenever they want, now. Enterprises in a variety of industries, including communications, have huge investments in IT infrastructure from multiple vendors. This makes them slow to enable many of the digital native applications and mobile experiences to which customers are becoming accustomed.

Communications service providers (CSPs) are fundamental to how we live, work, and play in an increasingly digital world. They seek to tap into the agility and rich functionality of the cloud to simultaneously redefine customer experience, improve the employee experience, drive operational excellence, find new revenue streams, and reduce costs.

To succeed in today's digital market, CSPs must embrace solutions and operational models designed for agility and being able to monetize evolving business models in a fail-fast approach. Otherwise they risk spending heavily on network investments only to be marginalized by disruptors.

When companies put a solution together, it takes more than one application to accomplish the desired outcome. Each application needs to be set up independently and, most of the time, requires the same information, duplicating effort and increasing chances of errors.

Consequently, these types of solutions require the following:

  • Point-to-point integration to get the flows working. These integrations are custom and brittle.
  • Experts in each application system to set things up and operate it, making it difficult for business users to innovate.

With such a tightly coupled design and runtime, companies have to choose optimizing for design or runtime; it is difficult to optimize for both. This also makes the workflows difficult to automate and stifles agility.

We fundamentally believe that a better model is to centralize design time data. A canonical model that defines all the rules, constraints, content, everything that goes into designing a product offering, in one place. Any runtime can then consume the needed metadata to perform the action in a decoupled fashion, dramatically increasing business agility.

This centralized approach to design time can be done with minimal disruption to the current enterprise architecture. In essence, build an adaptor to your current application from the central design time system. Use your application only as a runtime system, all the metadata required comes from the central system.

This model allows agility for business to innovate with minimal disruption to the enterprise architecture. It gives an opportunity to evolve the runtime layer at the pace of business.

While this separation of design from runtime is necessary, it isn't sufficient. There is complex data integration required to make sure all the runtime systems are synchronized when it comes to master data. This is where standards come into play; standardization obviates the need for vendor-specific integrations making automation easier. This can be achieved by using an industry-standard data model with the ability to assign a gatekeeper to receive data, validate updates, and broadcast the updates to all apps that need that type of data.

Now you can apply intelligence to the master data. This enables the experiences you deliver to customers and employees to be more personal, relevant, and smarter.

De-coupling design time from runtime and having an adaptive data mastering capability enables enterprises to operate at two speeds: innovating rapidly in channels of engagement and transforming the systems of record at the pace business requires.

Keys to Success for Attaining Agility at the Digital Experience Layer

As CSPs consider transformations to be able to better support their evolving customer needs and business growth, key things to have in a solution include the following:

  1. Cloud-native – Loosely coupled architecture. In other words, micro services.
  2. Intuitive and data-driven user interface – Low-code platforms to accelerate usage across departments and teams by both technical and non-technical users.
  3. Support for industry-specific functions out of the box – Provisioning industry-specific applications out of the box will drive broad acceptance and quick wins.
  4. Open and non-proprietary interfaces – Extensive extendibility is foundational for the success of low-code platforms in the long term.
  5. Mature administration capabilities – Enabling IT teams to retain significant responsibility for the overall systems architecture while enabling a broad set of users to be in control.

These together maximize agility, quickly deliver modern experiences decoupled from systems of record, ensure interoperability and evolution, and master data to provide real-time intelligence.

Pritham Shetty is group vice president of products for CX industry solutions at Oracle.