The children of the digital revolution
Business today is in the throes of a digital revolution. It was provoked by the introduction of technologies such as cloud, social and mobile computing, big data analysis and the internet of things (IoT). It is producing fundamental changes in the way companies operate, and the skills their people need.
New technologies bring new opportunities. The enterprises that take best advantage are those that can quickly change their operation to create new products and services.
Enterprises support this approach by using agile development methods, based on small increments that each give business value, as opposed to a waterfall approach, with a series of large steps that are defined in technical terms and must all be complete for a useful product to emerge.
There are many digital platforms available. Cloud and social media providers have platforms that support the development and operation of services that use their services. Mobile phone and IoT device manufacturers have platforms that support the development and operation of products that use their products. There are open source platforms that support big data analysis products and services, and software development generally.
The challenge for a developer enterprise is to find the right combination of platforms for its products and services, and to make them work together.
An enterprise architect that creates this combination – the enterprise digital platform – is like the architect of a factory whose product range can be adapted by design changes and extended by installation of new machinery: not concerned with the design of the product, or with the choice of new machines, but responsible for making new designs and production methods possible.
A digital platform does not make an agile enterprise, any more than a vaulting horse makes an Olympic athlete. As well as new equipment, the enterprise needs new skills, developed through recruitment and training. Above all, it needs a new attitude, a change of culture.