Over the past year or so, I have written about the many challenges organisations are facing as we hurtle into the new era of digitalisation… the accelerating pace of change, the new customer demands, the skills challenges, the new innovations, and more.
Before I go too far, the views expressed here are my own personal views, not those of any company I may represent.
As we try to predict this very uncertain digital future, we’re all asked to make some bets. With my background in helping organisations capitalise on the power of technology, I placed my bet, very decisively, on digital transformation.
Don’t you love buzzwords? Digital transformation really isn’t that new!
It’s just the latest technology hype around some old ideas coming of age and becoming simpler to implement.
Yes, I said “simpler” through the power of abstraction…
From a business perspective, digital transformation is about shortening the time between some strategic intent and execution. Or reducing the time to value for a new product that you’re launching. It’s about true customer focus and leveraging mobile for customer experience that leaves the customer wanting more. It’s about engaging with the customer on their terms, exploiting the fact that you’re literally in the customer’s pocket.
At the same time, there is the company’s perspective. This is where historical hype has disappointed. Business Process reengineering and improvement followed years of business process automation. Business Intelligence intended to bring better data quality and currency to decision making. Customer relationship management was an attempt to manage customer interactions from the company’s perspective and I could go on.
Digital transformation presents the opportunity to dovetail the customer journey with organisational processes, addressing the objectives of process improvement while leveraging big data. Fundamentally, as you understand customer needs and opportunities to serve digitally, whether web or mobile or … (omni-channel is the buzzword), the process needs to flow and be tracked from customer enquiry; to offer; to acceptance; to context and preferences; to expanding share of wallet.
This implies that additional data that is likely to be missing in the company’s internally focused processes that will need to be captured and maintained to support the customer journey and more importantly, will need to be incorporated into systems of record. These processes and data may also need new business rules applied around issues such as privacy and data protection.
Decisions are now placed in the customer’s hands and approvals are automated and escalated immediately, rather than reacting to traditional “business intelligence”. There is a new level of automation, made possible by digital transformation but it has to link and integrate legacy processes, functions, data and business rules with new customer engagement processes and data seamlessly.
Technically, this means that you can’t be hamstrung by integration and you can’t wait for your IT Department to finish their SOA project or their infrastructure upgrade or the latest implementation of a silo’ed capability such as Business Process Management.
The entire stack, that is data, process, logic (business rules) and functions (the activities that people perform) are all automated to varying degrees during digital transformation. For example, rather than serving a customer through a call centre, interact with them on mobile but if they don’t complete the function, sms them a link to continue later on the web and if they still don’t, call them to offer assistance – providing one seamless interaction and an experience that delights the customer.
A true Digital Transformation platform accelerates all of these changes but there is a secret to success and that is the ability to continuously enhance and improve the customer experience throughout the stack. A lean product development approach is essential to defining these new interactions, validating them with friendly customers first, and then continuously pivoting as we learn what works best. Even this changes with context and time.
Enter OutSystems platform…
The video on this page provides a great two minute peak into the power.
OutSystems’ platform is ranked by Forrester as the clear global leader for low code platforms – strong recognition that it has become the pre-eminent enterprise-grade rapid application delivery platform.
And this is where OutSystems’ ease-of-integration and rapid delivery starts elevating it from the pack. It gives companies of all sizes the opportunity to compete in new digital marketplaces:
- Barriers to entry are lowered, as the company need not worry about infrastructure or hybrid hosting [everything is available ‘as a service’]. As new technologies emerge, one doesn’t have to wait for their existing infrastructure to reach ‘end-of-life’. The latest and greatest services from Amazon and Microsoft Azure can be immediately plugged in.
- From a skills perspective, these digital platforms allow firms to develop new services quickly and cost-effectively, without the need for deep technical skills. Developer interfaces are highly visual, hugely increasing productivity, using minimal code, and automating the entire application lifecycle.
- RAD platforms foster a lean startup approach of experimenting, validating ideas with early rounds of live user testing, pivoting your strategies, and ultimately finding the solutions that add value to customers and disrupt industries.
- Through intelligent design and self-healing techniques, we remove the arduous nature of things like impact assessments, regression testing, and bug fixing.
- And once the digital product is released “into the wild”, comprehensive analytics enables the enterprise to measure customer sentiment and experience in real-time, and understand how internal business processes can be optimised
- And all of this with no lock-in. The OutSystems platform generates native components for web and mobile solutions that are non-proprietary and can ultimately run without the platform. If you chose to do this you loose the powerful abstraction, rapid delivery and lifecycle management capability but retain your valuable intellectual property. None of OutSystems competitors can do this as they all have proprietary server environments. If you stop using the solutions from rivals you retain nothing.
We talk about developing digital services “faster than the speed of business” – and for me, this is deeper than just a pay-off line. It represents the phenomenal savings that we can achieve, in the development costs and the skills required, but critically time-to-deliver represents a capability to deliver at speed and change at speed across the digital journey and down into the legacy stack.
Take a look at the 5 minute section of this video on “Banking Architecture” at 31 minutes – https://www.outsystems.com/nextstep/2016/revolution/
By being able to deliver continuously to their users, our clients enjoy a sense of liberation. With decreased risks and costs, finally they’re free to unleash their creativity, to build digital services with new-found flair. Not every experiment will work out – and that’s fine – because we continue learning and refining.
Ultimately, this way of doing things increases our clients’ chances of finding that all-important killer app, that digital service that strikes a chord with their users, and spurs rapid business transformation.
Amazingly, it’s not about the technology, it’s about the power to digitise and transform business to compete in this new world.