Applications are conduits for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data
The complexity of the modern IT environment is something that all organisations are struggling with.
Not only are many of them in the middle of a difficult digital transformation journey but, at the same time, they are reinventing the way they provide services to their employees and customers.
So says Dimension Data's Jason Serda, CTO, Managed Services Platform, and Paul Mantey, principal architect, Global Systems Integrator.
According to them, nowhere is this more apparent than at the intersection of data and applications.
Serda and Mantey believe that the application landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years, with the decisions around what applications to use, being increasingly driven by the demands of end users, both internal and external.
Furthermore, applications are increasingly being viewed not as an end in themselves, but as conduits for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data. With data at the heart of the digital business, integrating the services provided by the various applications has become critical.
And this has placed incredible pressure on IT teams to ensure that services are seamlessly integrated, and that the relevant data is shared seamlessly between applications. It's no longer good enough for information to exist in silos scattered across the organisation, it needs to be available wherever and whenever it is needed. It's the oxygen that the digital organisation breathes and there are dire consequences for any part without access to it.
A vast array of applications
The pair says that the challenge lies in the vast array of applications in use, and data seemingly coming from all sides, which makes it hard for an organisation to knit all it all together. This requires the automation of many of the processes that were delivered in a semi-manual way in the past, and it's at this point that organisations are looking to their technology partners to guide the way.
However, by leveraging the knowledge of a trusted system integrator, it's possible to abstract away the complexity inherent in integrating multiple services. By providing seamless access to an organisation's data, it becomes possible for them to create a more personalised customer experience.
For them effective systems integration is critical to creating an agile organisation. For companies hoping to compete against traditional competitors as well as born digital organisations, speed is essential.
"We are seeing this desire for speed manifest itself in the rise of DevOps where iterations to applications are being pushed out constantly, with machine learning systems also being leveraged to speed up the process of tweaking the output of applications to deliver greater insights," they add. "This rapid iteration of functionality in the development space, would have been impossible just a few years ago as interdependencies between applications had to be tightly managed to ensure that changes in one place didn't have a negative knock-on effect in others."
The reality, is that the development of the API ecosystem, the emergence of tools to manage integration, and the creation of automation platforms, are all part of ensuring that incremental changes can be rolled out with confidence.
"There is, in fact, a greater danger to organisations that don't adopt a strategy of constant innovation. Not only are their competitors pushing ahead, but there is the real risk of their business users simply side-stepping them and finding services that deliver the functionality they desire. Not only does this cut the IT team out of the decision-making process, but more importantly it means that silos of information are created throughout the organisation, restricting the benefits that integration brings."
For CIOs looking to extract the greatest benefit from the integration of services ,they need to consider whether or not their strategy is built around the seamless integration of all services, and whether they have the tools in place to automate service provision. Next, they must ask themselves whether they have established the right partnerships to assist their team deliver business value, and if they have the insight into how the various parts of their services ecosystem interact with each other.