Digital Innovation Factory (1/3): The Enterprise Platform and the CIO at the age of the new normal

by Marlon Bromfield - Head of Strategic Digital Propositions and Innovation, Sopra Steria UK
| minute read

Covid-19 pandemic has showed that the most digitalized companies, the digital-first companies, were the un-constable winner of this challenging period. Providing business activities through advanced digital experiences or platform offerings, these companies has kept their customers and partners engaged and happy in this challenging period.

While analysts expect the “new normal” drives the path for the next months and maybe years, all companies must dope, reinforce, and structure their digital services. For long-established companies who are digital-adopters, it requires to embrace the value of the digital-born Platforms striving on the market. But in the meantime, it also requests to capitalize on their core assets: data, human resources, IT legacy, and an initial sense of entrepreneurship. In another words, it drives these companies to become an “Enterprise Platform” which can create massively new services, implement new business models, relying on the latest innovative technologies.

Almost 2 decades ago, Marc Andreessen said that “Software is eating the world”. This statement has never been so true. And the Enterprise Platform must not only build its Software Factory, but its new Digital Innovation Factory. In this context, CIO acting as the “bandmaster” of the Enterprise Platform, plays a key role. While struggling with many generation of IT, strong pressure on the budget, a long list of compliance and regulation, the CIO have never got so easily access to such amount of innovative and opensource solution powered by the Cloud (Data, Analytics, AI/ML, IoT, Blockchain, Low-code/No code). He or she is the most-positioned person at the nexus of business and technologies to build this Digital Innovation Factory.

When Cloud-native application fuels Digital Innovation Factory

Now, the question is how to define this new platform offering? How to enable the new services? How to build the core software? How to shape the underlying technical platform? Among other solutions, cloud-native application solutions including container, microservices, serverless, APIs are emerging in great position. A recent survey issued by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, shows that 6.5 million cloud native developers exist around the globe.

These new components appear as the new nano-technologies of IT, bringing the promises of lightweight capabilities, flexibility, and portability. But they comes with a new way of thinking the Software, a new way of collaboration between the Business and the IT, and new way of operating and maintaining this software up over the time. Business, software development and deployment activities are now intrinsically linked and synchronized.

Digital Innovation Factory: How to rethink your Business principles?

Becoming an Enterprise Platform means rethinking its core business, figuring out how to create and deliver value online, identifying the new customers, defining new alliance or partnership. Industry trends show many examples of enterprises moving from a product manufacturer business to a service provider model, turning its vehicle manufacturer or transportation activity into a mobility one, completing its traditional retailer activities with new customized services, transitioning from an energy or utilities company to a sustainable “resourcer” and consumption adviser. These challenges are also true for countries. The “citizen consumers” expect more online public services for simplifying their administrative activities.

The start-ups who disrupt the market with platform offerings powered by adaptive software have paved the way. By experimenting many features fast, listening their users adopting them or rejecting them, they have often strive on the market. Where traditional software KPI were focusing on costs, quality and time, the new digital challenges are speed, functionality, and usability of the product. In this “new normal” era, the ability to push quick updates in response to fast-changing landscape while supporting capacity for scale is vital. From a technological perspective, the challenges are stability, availability and scaling up and down.

This new landscape needs henceforth to rely on a holistic approach, coined as BizDevSecOps. This last incorporates all the people together, from business to development, security and operations, through a continuous and interactive processes across the entire software life cycle but also the responsive technologies.

When Agility practices kick-starts BizDevSecOps approach

Easy to say… shaping such a model avoiding the traditional decision bottleneck and allowing to do quick course correction clearly required to build a very agile organization. By defining consistent and fast-evolving vision, focusing on outcomes, backed by multidisciplinary teams, rapid prototyping, business metrics and feedback loops, Agile practices are the initial guidelines to achieve it.

As for example, the UK Criminal Justice System aimed at completing its digital transformation by 2020. In order to support this ambitious objective, new agile ways of working have been defined for reducing the expenses of the organization, improving its efficiency and productivity, facilitating collaboration between the various judicial services and provide citizens with easier access to the various services.

Veolia, a global leader in optimized resource management such as water, energy, waste management, has focused its digital transformation strategy on three main areas: Digital Workplace, Cloud, and Data Platform. In order to boost its massive transformation, its Global Digital Factory's teams have widely adopted Agile method.

At the scale of an entire companies, this alignment between the new “agile initiative partner” become more than ever a crucial driver of success. The most digitalized companies are often the most Agile-powered. And if some have demonstrated remarkable sense of adaptation at short term, many companies must enlarge their capabilities by embracing agility at scale across their various business units,… and more recently across a distributed model involving all the remote working parties. New leadership principles, with fewer hierarchical levels, a less pyramidal approach are also key to reach this level of magnitude.

If these agile initiatives can kick-start real-time responses to business, and make “adaptive software as usual”, it is then important to shape the underlying Enterprise Technical Platform allowing to code the Software and deploy it at the speed of business, and then to operate it in a perpetually evolving context.

Digital-first company

AWS Cloud

Digital Innovation Factory: How to reshape your software development activities at the era of cloud-native application?

60% of backend developers use containers in their work. Relying on cloud-native technologies, defining as modern applications packaged in containers, deployed as micro-services, running on elastic infrastructure, and managed through agile DevSecOps processes fits very well with large enterprise who very often encompass a wide variety of software technologies.

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Digital Innovation Factory: Which technical platform select and how operate it over the time?

As seen previously, digital experience and platform offerings call for a massive amount of software with frequent new services, and regularly updated and deleted new features. Long-established companies adopting an Enterprise Platform model must then own a new Digital Innovation Factory encompassing a Technical Platform.


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