Another year at Innovation World is done – Software AG’s annual customer and partner event that brings customers from around the world to learn about new products and hear from their peer about how they are solving problems, and well, Innovating.
Among the popular themes at this year’s event was Adaptive Applications. Not only is this near and dear to my heart, but from the discussions I had with customers this is a topic that is rapidly moving from a theory to practice as company are thinking about and searching for ways to respond more quickly to changing customer needs, changing business requirements, and changing competitive environments.
Central to adaptive application is the concept of transformational change – an update to preconceived notions that middleware software is rigid and fixed to the new reality for digital enterprises that middleware can be the engine that allows an organization to be flexible to change, nimble to respond, and empower people from all across the organization.
To accomplish all this they need a way break free of the traditional limits for how processes and apps are created to a newer digital-enterprise way to create, customize and change applications.
Adopting a portfolio mindset is the first step in the right direction that categorizes applications into the frequency of change and their impact to the organization – systems or record (backend systems), systems of differentiation (middleware), systems of innovation (usually department and customer facing applications), and front office systems. Each layer needs the right set of tools, user interfaces, governance, and integrations that enable the layer to deliver the organization benefits.
For example, most organizations realize that the back-office processes and systems of record are for the most part – fixed. They can’t change quickly, nor if they did would they contribute to a more competitive and flexible organization. Also, many companies have standardized on SaaS-based front-office applications and processes for sales, marketing and customer support. These don’t necessarily create differentiated enterprises either – for example, the process of tracking a sales lead through a CRM system is the same process across most CRMS.
Just like an Oreo cookie, it’s what is in the middle that counts.
These middle systems make a real difference and if they are truly Adaptive they can deliver organizational differentiation and innovation. These middleware parts connect disparate processes and provide user friendly interfaces for rapidly changing and adapting systems are like a body’s nervous system that allow signals to travel to all parts of an enterprise, collect feedback through user inputs and sensors and communicate back to systems of record or automatically start processes or control actions to respond quickly to triggers and events that require immediate action. If an organization can create an application that manages data better within a team or streamlines a process in days instead of months or sometimes years, the impact to the organization can be significant.
Customers and partners I spoke with were really taking these ideas seriously by learning how they can apply them and how they can get started. The webMethods AgileApps Cloud and the webMethods Integration Cloud services provide two great tools to create apps and integrations to organize and manage data and process and then connect them to enterprise systems of record or cloud SaaS applications.
1. Prioritize and pilot. A quick inspection of the punch list of projects will show several potential projects where processes can be automated to delivery quick and significant value to the enterprise. Start there. Pick a project that can be deployed in the Software AG cloud so there’s not hardware or software to setup, just open an account and get started. Here’s a free trial of webMethods AgileApps Cloud and webMethods Integration Cloud.
2. Portfolio mindset. While you are looking at the project list, go ahead and identify those projects that would be a good fit for follow on projects. You’ll find a range of projects that are only suited for your most experienced developers to projects that are much needed by a department but that should be able to be completed in a couple of weeks. Here are a few questions you can ask to help you create a filtered list:
- Can we run them in the cloud?
- Is the lifecycle for the application 2-3 years?
- Do we want subject matter experts to be able to customize applications or processes?
- Will we allow end users to setup or change integrations?
- Does the business require pay as you go subscription model?
- Do we need to deliver rapid time to value – in a few weeks?
3. Monitor and Repeat steps 1-2. That’s right – do it all again. Once you’ve experienced adaptive and agile applications and integrations it can become highly addictive – the immediacy of the feedback from the constituents, the availability of prebuilt building blocks to tackle other problems, the rush of IT being able to do real time development with the client in the room so both groups know that the end product matches the requirements the first time its delivered.
*Oreo is a trademark of its respective owner.
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