New concepts

December 2017

Hands holding connected spherePeter Sweetbaum, CEO at IT Lab, asks what will the adoption of an adaptive technology model deliver for your organisation.

The burgeoning use of apps in consumer life is fundamentally changing the ways customers expect to interact with businesses, how employees prefer to work, and how organisations use technology. Akin to their social media habits, employees want seamless interactions, using applications of their choice from any device, anywhere, at any time.

This trend towards the ‘consumerisation’ of corporate IT represents a paradigm shift which will bring both significant benefits and challenges to organisations.

What is an adaptive technology model?

The truth is, we are already living in an adaptive technology world. For students, nurses, office workers and architects, existing in an app enabled, flexible technology world is easy. Social media behemoths like Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple and Google have built a user-centric digital world enabling us to pick and choose games, communication tools and travel apps, elegantly hopping from one app to another, porting content as well as individual identities seamlessly.

They make it easy, user friendly, secure by design and they give us such a good digital existence, we hardly exist outside of it. In the corporate world, organisations are rushing towards the explosion of SaaS applications, finally breaking free from decades of costly hardware refresh cycles and nail-biting software version upgrades. However, they are also unknowingly creating a patchwork of unconnected, fragmented and siloed corporate applications, systems and data.

The march towards the consumerisation of corporate technology has begun - and it’s not turning back. Learning how to enable an organisation to seamlessly select, change or swap corporate apps is key to bringing the real flexibility and value that SaaS represents. These business applications will need to work elegantly alongside each other as they have done in the on-premise world before.

Organisations like architects, insurance brokers, housing associations, charities or asset managers are only now assessing how to make this app-driven world work for them. An adaptive technology model is designed to help them take advantage of these emerging solutions and services, as and when they fit organisational needs.

Breaking down silos with an adaptive technology model

An adaptive technology model is a framework which organisations can use to implement and access an interchangeable collection of web delivered services enabling freedom of choice and movement of data between them.

In this landscape, modern, value differentiating IT professionals are expected to act more as business and application integration specialists. An adaptive technology model supports rapid decentralised decision making, unlike a single organisation simultaneously using multiple collaboration tools like Slack, Yammer, Trello and Basecamp, which results in precisely the opposite.

Realising an adaptive technology model Given the increasing fragmentation of technology, applications and data, how should your organisation manage its widening array of disparate technology services? How can you make this often-siloed world of systems and services work coherently and cohesively together? To succeed, there must be two core factors in place:

  • An adaptive service framework - three key elements that optimise the benefits of the increasingly fragmented technology landscape in which we operate;
  • A suite of adaptive technology enablers that make disparate applications and services work harmoniously in today’s corporate environments.

An adaptive service framework

An adaptive technology model is underpinned by a framework of three core elements:

  1. Service integration
  2. Presentation integration
  3. Business integration

Service integration

Irrespective of where an organisation’s technology and services reside, one thing is certain; a coherent approach to integrated services is key to ensuring your business doesn’t suffer from conflicts between increasingly disparate and unconnected elements of your technology stack.

People are the glue that often binds together the processes that rely on your technology. A well-designed service integration model will facilitate, manage and optimise the widespread use of third parties, SaaS services, and public or even private cloud by aligning the relevant service requirements and ensuring a coherent service for users.

Presentation integration

For the user, Presentation Integration is what makes using multiple apps in a work context elegant, simple and attractive to use. Providing a seamless way for your users to access their applications is important.

Doing so in a centrally controllable and secure way is what makes operating in an app-driven world tolerable and manageable. User-centric identity management provides people with a single password and the ability to authenticate all their apps across multiple devices.

Business integration Behind that elegant front end, there needs to be true application and business process integration. The ability for individual applications and services to work harmoniously to deliver value to the user depends on their ability to co-exist, to communicate, and for the data residing in them to smoothly traverse from one to the other.

Without any one of these three components, the ability to unlock the value of an adaptive technology model becomes challenging, if not completely unworkable.

Adaptive technology enablers

With an adaptive service framework in place, five key technology enablers are critical to implementing an eff ective adaptive technology model and operating in an app-centric world.

Enabler one: Hybrid cloud services
Given the array of cloud platforms and services available, identifying the optimal environment for your applications and workloads is key, as is the ability to assess when to move or change environments.

Enabler two: Software defined networking
A network solution that meets the unique demands of a SaaS and hybrid cloud world is essential. This provides flexible, optimised networks to quickly and cost effectively deliver services to organisations across the globe.

Enabler three: Identity and access management
The power to elegantly stitch on ‘single sign-on’ solutions with strong identity management tools opens the world of distributed apps and services to security conscious organisations. With single signon, a user logs-in once and gains access to the applications they are entitled to use, without the need to re-enter log-in credentials for each application.

Enabler four: Secure by design
Protecting corporate data that resides almost exclusively with third-party service providers fundamentally changes the dynamic of ‘secure by design’. This responsibility extends to and beyond protecting end-points, changing user behaviour, and the security of network end points, through to ethical hacking and penetration testing.

Enabler five: Data integration
APIs have become the standard for bringing diff erent data sets together by enabling the applications they reside in to speak to one another. The API acts as a translator, providing import, export, read and analytical access. Forward thinking businesses have realised that APIs are hugely valuable, strategic tools.

What will the implementation of an adaptive technology model deliver for you? What does all of this mean for your business, your customers and your users? Developing a technology-led growth strategy in an ever-changing world is a challenge.

It’s also imperative if your company is to compete and achieve its true potential. An adaptive, iterative approach to technology will support you to:

  • Deliver a consistent and reliable service to your customers;
  • Develop your services in line with expectations, using technologies users are most likely to see value in;
  • Enable your users to be productive and efficient with technology that supports how they work, and protects the data and systems they access;
  • Gain value from digital, by maximising technologies to deliver value-creating products for your business and your customers;
  • Empower innovation and diversification outside your industry sector
  • Seek out opportunities in areas where technology is utilised to break down barriers to entry in terms of cost, price and process;
  • See technology for the enabler it is and drive your business strategy.

The pace of change across the technology landscape is at an unprecedented scale. Understandably, we are seeing clients and users alike lacking clarity and confidence as to when and how to capture the benefit of this change. The objective of an adaptive technology model is to enable organisations to be ready to adopt solutions and services as and when they are ready to do so.

Image: iStock.com/ipopba

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