Business agility is the ability to compete in the digital market by responding to the rapid changes that characterize it and seizing opportunities. To achieve this, it is necessary to have a modular and continuously improving architecture that allows you to achieve IT agility in the first place.
In this article, we will go deeper to understand why it is strategic in today's market.
To fully understand IT Agility it is important to know Conway's Law, according to which business systems reflect the organizational structure of the company. The history of this law is interesting. In 1967, computer scientist Melvin Conway proposed the article "How Do Committees Invent?" to Harvard Business Review, where he proposed this reflection: "organizations which design systems (in the broad sense used here) are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations". HBR rejected the article, which was later published elsewhere. In 1975 the concept was taken up by Fred Brooks in his essay “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering”, who coined the name of Conway's Law for that phrase.
We can say that Conway's Law is implicitly an approach for measuring business agility. Observing the organizations and communications of that time, and contextualizing it in the current scenario, we can talk about the inversion of Conway's law, at least in the IT world: the systems we design not only reflect, but strongly affect the company organization.
For this reason, if we want our company to become agile, flexible, able to break down and recompose itself in new forms to meet the needs of the market, we must start from IT systems and design them so that they are agile, flexible and modular.
Business agility therefore starts first of all from IT agility and once this concept is understood and put into practice, then we can talk about agility by design.
The three paradigms of IT agility
The keywords to understand modern architectures are evolvability, decoupling and digital integration hub. These are the paradigms of IT Agility, which make it possible to give business the agility by design it needs. We explain them briefly in the next paragraphs.
Flexible architectures that evolve with the business
From the business agility point of view, more and more often we talk about composable IT architectures that allow companies to become "composable enterprises". The term composable enterprise, a modular company, indicates a structuring of the business software that allows you to easily break down and reassemble the functions according to the needs of the moment, adding or eliminating the components in use exposed through specific web interfaces. The consulting, research and analysis firm Gartner strongly believes in this approach, and has described it in detail in the research "Future of Applications: Delivering the Composable Enterprise" (available for Gartner clients only).
The demand for adaptability of application architectures able to meet the demands of a constantly evolving market is strongly increasing. The most used approach to respond to this request is that of evolvable architectures, designed to operate at their best in modern virtualized IT environments, on premises or in the cloud, which are based on an approach to microservices and containerized infrastructures (generally orchestrated with Kubernetes).
The Digital Decoupling Layer to accelerate the creation of new digital products
To make the company modular, it is essential to decouple the channels aimed at end users from the underlying IT infrastructure. This allows for greater fluidity and speed in dealing with new digital projects. This process corresponds to the creation of a digital decoupling layer, capable of responding to the company's needs of adaptability and evolvability.
It is a software layer that decouples and manages the integration of data and services, and that allows you to innovate internal applications, contact channels, product and service offerings to meet the needs of constantly evolving customers.
The Digital Integration Hub to manage the complexities of omnichannel
The digital decoupling process is achieved thanks to the implementation of a Digital Integration Hub, the architectural paradigm rationalized by Gartner that allows you to improve the customer experience, modernize systems and open new business partnerships in a simpler and faster way. How? On the one hand, you can provide faster access to applications and data from corporate legacy systems, thanks to the use of API (Application Programming Interfaces).
On the other hand, speaking of data, you can overcome the rigidity and limitations of existing backends, by supporting real-time data-streaming and high-performance data stores, through the Fast Data paradigm.
Thanks to the adoption of a Digital Integration Hub, organizations have the opportunity to embrace the omnichannel paradigm, and immediately establish new points of contact with end users and consumers without overloading existing legacy systems and without accumulating technical debt.
To compete in the current situation and respond to the ever-changing digital and business challenges, companies should build with modular, flexible and evolvable IT architectures capable of maximizing adaptability and speed of reaction to market needs. Thanks to a high level of business agility, company resources are available continuously and can be remapped to respond to any change in business, process or technology.
At the IT level, it is essential to acquire an agile approach (IT Agility) by design to evolve towards the paradigm of the composable enterprise, to react promptly to the needs of the business and customers thanks to the use of IT architectures based on composable and reusable components in different contexts and combinations.
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