In this competitive market, if companies want to excel in delivering new products and reinventing themselves, it is essential to decouple the IT infrastructure from channels in order to successfully tackle the most complex digital projects. This can be accomplished by putting in place a Digital Decoupling process.
Decoupling applications and services aimed at end-users from the underlying systems - i.e. developing with digital decoupling logic - makes it easier to create and update digital products and services. The advantages are found both in a reduced time-to-market and in the ability to respond effectively and promptly to consumers’ demands, as they are increasingly demanding and accustomed to the service standards of the giants - Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and so on.
The creation of a digital decoupling layer, that is a software layer that decouples and manages the integration of data and services, is the answer to the need to dynamically innovate internal supports, contact channels, products offer, and services, in order to meet customers’ needs.
Digital decoupling: what it is and what it is for
To meet constantly evolving business needs, which also require readiness and dynamism, the development time for new projects has been reduced to a month or even a few weeks. To respect the deadlines, advanced methodologies for development - such as the Agile model or DevOps practices – and a certain maturity in the use of technologies are not enough. If the touchpoints that support users’ interaction with the underlying business systems use proprietary logic and ad hoc integrations, it becomes difficult to evolve services or replace individual components without changing the entire infrastructure. Creating a digital decoupling layer means that there is a logical decoupling between the contact channels and the systems. This makes changing, replacing, or evolving individual parts easy. Indeed, the digital layer separates what happens in the supply channels (mobile apps, websites, interactions with customer care, marketing, and so on) from the backends (on-premises or cloud orchestration, software updates, migrations, and so on), allowing more flexibility and speed in releases.
A technology to support the digital decoupling: the Digital Integration Hub
The digital decoupling process is achieved with the implementation of a dedicated infrastructure known as the Digital Integration Hub (DIH).
Gartner analysts evaluate the DIH as an emerging paradigm for an easy, fast, and highly scalable access to services, which are necessary to successfully address customer experience improvement initiatives, systems modernization, and openings to new business partnerships. A paradigm that provides for access to applications and business system data through application programming interfaces (API) without the need for radical transformations, extending the operational life of legacy systems and avoiding their overload.
APIs securely power the front-ends with which business users and customers interact; likewise, they support integration with business partners and third-party applications, opening up new possibilities for growth and expansion within the API Economy paradigm.
Speaking about data, DIH allows overcoming the rigidity and limitations of existing backends, supporting real-time data-streaming and high-performance data stores, through the Fast Data paradigm. These capabilities maximize the value of data to the business by providing consolidated Single Customer Views of each customer and analytics data updated in real-time about customers, without relying on batch processes.
Where to start to put digital decoupling into practice
The implementation of a digital decoupling process begins with the creation of API Gateways to manage client calls and route them correctly. It continues with the creation of microservices in backend for frontend (BFF) logic to separate the significant developments and evolutions for the user experience from those concerning the infrastructure, migrating the application logic to the DIH platform.
Subsequently, by introducing a Fast Data architecture, composed of a real-time stream of data and single views according to the needs of the business, the real separation of the channels is achieved, which are thus freed from the underlying logic.
At this point, it becomes easier to evolve individual components and eventually replace the underlying systems to optimize costs, exploit cloud resources, and much more, without affecting the operation of applications.
The benefits of digital decoupling
Decoupling the systems from the channels, by inserting a digital decoupling layer, offers IT the availability of a performing infrastructure, which allows it to exploit the potential of corporate SORs, freeing themselves from possible critical issues. Development teams can thus create new software quickly and securely, taking advantage of the latest technologies.
This way, teams can focus more on interactive features, without having to worry about the underlying systems. From a business point of view, the separation is functional to time to market, to the improvement of the user experience, and to the more effective use of IT resources.