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SOA Best Practices Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Andy Thurai, Charles Araujo, Hollis Tibbetts, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Agile Software Development, Change Leadership Journal, CIO, SOA Best Practices Digest, Microservices Journal

Agile Development: Article

Five Surprising Connections in the #Agile #DigitalTransformation Roadmap

This complex, intertwined nature of digital transformation is one of its most salient characteristics

A few weeks ago I provided a tour of our new Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap (which is available for free download - be sure to have a copy handy before reading this article). That article, however, only scratched the surface of the poster.

In this Cortex I'll take a closer look. Zoom in and you'll notice quite a bit of detail - text-filled boxes connected higgledy-piggledy with arrows.

Those connections, however, are quite deliberate and carefully thought out. To help you make more sense out of the poster, therefore, I'll pull the threads of five important sequences within the poster.

Of course, there are many more such connections - and even the ADT Roadmap poster doesn't reflect all of them.

This complex, intertwined nature of digital transformation, in fact, is one of its most salient characteristics, and reflects an important differentiator between digital and other types of business transformations that have come before.

Mobile Adoption to Shadow IT to Self-Service

In the upper left hand corner of the poster, the digital story begins with shifting customer preferences and behavior, in large part due to a massive increase in smartphone adoption over the last decade.

The rise of mobile use both among customers and employees (who are themselves customers of the IT department) has led many enterprise lines of business to drive technology initiatives outside the IT organization, resulting in the dangerous shadow IT trend.

Shadow IT presents risks to the organization because IT should be responsible for maintaining the security and compliance of enterprise technology, so going around it can lead to vulnerabilities and breaches, not to mention redundant or incoherent technology purchases.

To rise to this challenge, IT must recast itself from gatekeeper to enabler and service provider, supporting the needs and preferences of customers and employees, especially as they seek to leverage technology in their day-to-day lives. Thus the democratization of technology leads to self-service IT - an important component of a digitally transformed enterprise.

Omnichannel to Digital Diversity to DevOps

Also in the customer experience corner lies omnichannel, the successor to multichannel. Multichannel strategies have long met customer needs, as each customer might have gone into a store one day or order online the next.

Today, however, customers bring their phones into stores, interacting with merchandising technology via barcodes and sales associates with their point of sale systems. In other words, from the customer perspective there is a single channel with multiple touchpoints, hence the term omnichannel.

This omnichannel capability is becoming the reality, not just in retail, but in banking, healthcare, and other industries across the board.

However, this diversity of customer touchpoints is only part of the digital story, as enterprises must also deal with the complexity of end-to-end digital architectures as well as the diversity of third-party participants, from online advertising to content delivery networks to cloud providers.

Developing software given this multidimensional digital diversity requires breaking down traditional organizational silos within IT and across the enterprise, focusing on maintaining quality and performance while delivering software increasingly rapidly - the central motivations behind the DevOps cultural shift within enterprise software development organizations.

Internet of Things to Cybersecurity to Automated Governance to Continuous Integration & Deployment to Software-Defined Everything

The Internet of Things (IoT) connects to both omnichannel and cybersecurity on the ADT Roadmap. Modern cybersecurity is fraught with challenges as enterprise perimeters fade away, requiring new ways of thinking about security in order to deal with increasingly common and damaging attacks.

As the IoT ramps up, this modern cybersecurity context becomes even more pressing, as the number, diversity, and rate of change of endpoints explodes exponentially. Without adequate security, the IoT is dead in the water.

In particular, organizations are facing dramatic increases in the dynamic nature of their network architectures, rapidly obsoleting traditional security technologies and best practices.

To fill this void, software-defined networking provides organizations with software-based control of network security. This automation of security-related processes expands to include the broader context of automated governance.

There would simply be no other way to insure every IoT endpoint is secure and compliant without such next-generation automation. Automated security and governance, in turn, are essential for achieving the continuous integration and deployment benefits of DevOps.

Traditional IT audits, for example, occur on three to six month schedules. When an enterprise moves to a continuous delivery model, however, such audits must be automated, or compliance becomes an insurmountable roadblock to the business velocity promise of DevOps.

Software-defined networking, furthermore, is only part of the DevOps automation story. In fact, enterprises require fully immutable, software-defined infrastructure - the next step on the road to software-defined everything, as we extend this principle to the IoT.

Machine Learning to Digital Business Performance Management to Real-Time to Streaming Data

In the lower right corner of the poster we find machine learning. For many organizations, machine learning is a hammer looking for a nail. In the context of digital performance management, however, machine learning is the key to dealing with ever-increasing quantities of operational data.

Simple alerts are worse than useless in the modern operational environment, as humans simply cannot keep up with such a flood of information. Machine learning, in contrast, is able to understand patterns in such data, first by identifying anomalies, then by making predictions about future issues, and finally by making proactive recommendations for how to avoid problems in the first place.

Machine learning thus takes the human out of the analysis cycle, allowing detection and correction of issues in real-time - a capability essential for delivering real-time functionality at scale to customers.

Real-time behavior from enterprise systems, in addition, requires a rethink of system architectures. When customers require immediate results, the end-to-end infrastructure must perform at top speed, with no bottlenecks.

Such architectures, in turn, enable streaming data applications that are at the core of real-time big data applications - applications that can make sense out of the never-ending firehose of information that results when there are no limits to the quantity, diversity, or velocity of data.

Enterprise Architecture to Self-Organization to Complex Systems to Agile Digital Transformation

Enterprise Architecture (EA) appears in the bright red, upper right corner of the poster. To maintain relevancy and usefulness in digitally transformed organizations, the practice of EA must itself transform, focusing on supporting the agility business drivers of the overall organization.

One of the most important practices for establishing change as a core competency within enterprises faced with ongoing disruption is to implement self-organization, not just within DevOps efforts, but across the organization as a whole in order to drive the innovation that provides competitive advantage.

Given the traditional, static EA frameworks of the past aren't up to the challenge of driving business agility, enterprise architects must instead consider the enterprise to be a complex adaptive system, where business agility is the most important emergent property the organization desires, and self-organization is the essential tool for achieving change as core competency.

Only by applying this complex systems approach to enterprise architecture will enterprises achieve Agile Digital Transformation - digital transformation that doesn't lead to a particular transformed state, but rather transforms the enterprise so that it can better deal with disruptive, chaotic change.

The Intellyx Take

Some business transformations center on enterprise IT. Others on business processes. Even more center on customer experience. In contrast, digital transformation includes all of those, as well as the explosion of big data, the rise of the cloud, and more.

As a result, there are no straightforward, linear paths for digitally transforming organizations to follow. Instead, we have a Gordian knot of digital transformation - one with several tangled threads.

This Cortex pulled on five of those strands, telling interrelated but different stories that are all part of the overall digital transformation conversation the ADT poster is meant to represent.

There is a deeper lesson here. Following Einstein's advice, the ADT poster attempts to make digital transformation as simple as possible - but no simpler. Beware oversimplifications of the complexities of digital transformation, as they all miss critical elements to the success of every digital transformation effort.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, the twelve sponsors of the poster are Intellyx customers: Dynatrace, Software AG, SOASTA, Compuware, OutSystems, CC & C Solutions, Fiber Mountain, Chef Software, OpenLegacy, 2nd Watch, Loop AI Labs, and Certes Networks. Image credit: Intellyx.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.