Disruption is coming at us from many different directions. We have, at a macro level, economic volatility. We face, in our markets, innovative competitors. We need to meet customer expectations every day, every hour, every minute.
The challenge for today’s enterprises is to employ information technology in new and creative ways to deliver superior customer experiences, superior user experiences, and maintain competitive edge. To explore this challenge, we recently sat down with Alessandro Chimera, director of digitalization strategy at TIBCO Software, who discussed how to formulate forward-looking strategies that optimize the technology that companies have in place, and the technology they need to have moving forward.
RTInsights: Was the COVID-19 crisis the most pronounced wakeup call for enterprises still relying on legacy technologies, or are there others?
Chimera: Certainly the pandemic did push forward the future by almost five years, but there are also other factors. Before the crisis, many companies had already started or had plans to start a disruptive digital transformation. But when most of your business is running well on legacy on-premises architecture, your major reasons to transform are competition and customers, or what I call digital FOMO—fear of missing out. With the pandemic, suddenly a new unforseen critical factor was added: How do we stay in business? Are we agile enough to rapidly change business models and our go-to market strategy to avoid losing customers? Just consider retailers: How can you still reach your customers when they don’t physically enter your shop?
RTInsights: Many companies are still saddled with monolithic systems. What is your definition of a monolithic system, and how does a company know it is encumbered by one?
Chimera: I define a monolithic system as a traditional on-premises single-deployed application that can scale only vertically by adding more CPU or memory. I’m not saying it’s an evil thing, since they work very well for departmental purposes or for a relatively small user target. But for enterprise businesses, when each single new requirement takes months to develop and you schedule deployments overnight because you know that your system is unavailable for several minutes or hours, or even when you have scaling concerns, then you’re trapped by your monolith and you should start looking into adopting a modern cloud-based architecture. Additionally, a monolith typically has a lot of functionality tightly coupled. Each single service can’t be separated out, modified individually, and scaled.
RTInsights: How does a company start to build a responsive and resilient architecture? Is cloud the key starting point?
Chimera: The key starting point is to put in place an API-first strategy to lay the groundwork to easily integrate with other systems. Cloud is the enabler to build a responsive and resilient architecture—but a responsive architecture is more than just technology, it’s a mindset change. It involves cross-collaboration between business teams and IT teams. It’s about the democratization of IT, where users collaborate to create synergies for a common goal, define strategies, and review processes. It’s a cultural step that empowers business users to build integration or applications with ease and increase their productivity, efficiency, and agility to operate. It’s here where IT can focus on creating that synergy to build a modern digital platform for their business users.
RTInsights: Are you also seeing a shift to more real-time, event-driven architectures that increase responsiveness as part of this shift?
Chimera: Yes, real-time is a constant increasing trend. Event-driven architectures are not new, but in the past, real-time was only for mission-critical purposes and mainly running on-premises. With the cloud and the latest available technologies like Apache Kafka, Apache Pulsar, and microservices, the concept of event-driven has shifted to nearly any industry, since we’re getting used to having information exchanged in real-time that increases our responsiveness.
RTInsights: Are there statistics or proof points that show companies with more advanced and resilient architectures are performing better in their markets?
Chimera: Yes, an example of the benefits of having a responsive architecture to proof-point the resiliency is at a large insurer. During the pandemic, many customers could no longer pay their insurance premiums in person at their local agencies. But with their cloud-native event-driven architecture, the insurer moved all their payments online in a few weeks. This is business resiliency— being agile when external circumstances change. Another proof point is CargoSmart, a provider of shipment management solutions. With their advanced responsive architecture, they’ve helped 5.000 vessels to reduce fuel consumption by three to five percent over the past years.
Learn more about the benefits of responsive architecture in TIBCO and RTInsight’s recent webinar “Business Resilience from a Responsive Architecture.”