If ‘digital transformation’ remains on your list of 2020 New Year IT resolutions, you’ll be in good company. Whether embarking on a new strategy or planning your next move, one thing is for sure – a digital-first approach is critical for agility, efficiency and competitiveness in today’s business world.
Yet, whilst digital transformation is a top priority for many CIOs and IT managers, it remains a challenging goal. It is more than simply finding individual products or services to solve spot problems. Essentially it requires a rethink – possibly a redesign – of the entire technology architecture and careful addition of the right components.
Data flows in the digital enterprise require different parts of the architecture to interact, and it only increases with further progress in transformation. This means not just thinking about a part solution for today, but creating a fully integrated solution that is fit for the future.
Founder and CEO of elastic.io, an innovator in iPaaS technology, Renat Zubairov provides advice on evaluating components for digital transformation using the concept of Minimum Viable Ecosystem (MVE) and highlights the importance of integration for success.
What is MVE?
Stacey Higginbottom describes MVE as a reduction in the complexity of the technology architecture to the minimum combination of hardware, software and services for delivering on business goals. It challenges innovators of Internet of Things products, software and services to think beyond the item in isolation. Instead it encourages relationships between entities that create even greater value.
For application developers and software vendors, MVE opens a door to think big. It encourages exploration of partnerships with other technologies and joining resources to create a broader solution.
What does that mean for the enterprise?
Applying the concept of MVE in the enterprise means not looking at a standalone product as the solution to an isolated business issue. Rather it encourages exploring how a product can – as part of a bundle or integrated solution – create multiple times the value of its parts.
Here we are thinking about how well a product works with other components of the system – from mainstream to niche – to create a fully interoperable platform. This requires greater attention to connectivity and interoperability, and supporting the data flows that are a key component of digital transformation success.
Fortunately the ‘everything as a service’ (XaaS) subscription model helps because it brings flexibility and agility to the technology architecture. IT leaders can evaluate the compatibility of components as part of the MVE, without the high investment commitment associated with traditional technology purchasing.
Evaluating new technologies with MVE in mind
Before adding the next component to your IT ecosystem, consider how the concept of MVE can support your investment decisions by asking yourself these three questions:
Is there a way of achieving the functionality through an existing ecosystem component(s)?
The idea of ‘minimum’ suggests first stripping away duplications, overlaps and redundant components to make sure that the technologies in the ecosystem all have a role and a contribution to make.
One way to do this is to begin by mapping out the competencies and services that you require from your IT ecosystem. Overlay the map with the tools that your existing technologies deliver and highlight duplications and redundancies along the way. Then look at what is still missing.
Is your ecosystem primed for growth?
‘Viable’ suggests experimentation to find the components that best fit together as an ecosystem. The idea is that the structure can expand to support business growth by increasing capacity but without requiring new components.
In an optimised digitally transformed ecosystem, the business will find more and more ways to create value from all the data that is stored and shared within the architecture. For example, data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications can improve efficiency of other parts of the business, from marketing to stock management, payments, logistics and more.
Where data silos exist or there is no operational connection to another part of the organisation, it may be worth exploring other solutions or new integrations that can provide greater value.
What interoperability is built into the component that will enable it to easily integrate and create value?
Finally, the term ‘ecosystem’ underlines the need for integration throughout the architecture to ensure service across all aspects of the business. The key here is interoperability, so make it a top three criteria in your assessment of each new component – alongside functionality and fit.
Look for products with built in iPaaS capabilities or consider whether an iPaaS layer of your own might be the answer to building an MVE. It can help to build integrations faster, at lower cost and with fewer specialist requirements.
The importance of integration
Digital transformation has been a catalyst for many IT leaders to re-evaluate their technology architecture with the future of the data-led enterprise in mind. MVE sits comfortably alongside digital transformation as a strategy to evaluate components – existing and new – for a clear and compatible role in a minimal, efficient infrastructure. And underlying this is the need for integration to ensure that the right parts are connected.
Asking these three questions about your IT ecosystem and next investment will help to make informed decisions. It prioritises the all-important data flows throughout your organisation, and aims to support big strides forward in your digital transformation strategy.
elastic.io is a Germany-based born-in-the-cloud innovator and an established expert in integration solutions.
elastic.io’s technology supports organisations of all sizes in their digital strategy initiatives by helping them spend less time on integrating and monitoring various data sources across the business, and more time on using this data to improve business operations or to develop new products and services.
The company was founded in 2013 by Renat Zubairov, Igor Drobiazko and Rico zu Knyphausen. In 2015, elastic.io launched its integration platform as a service (iPaaS), with a user-friendly, microservices-based architecture and hybrid integration capabilities that offers built-in connectors to more than 100 commercial software applications. The OEM version of the elastic.io iPaaS was launched in 2016, offering systems integrators and ISVs new ways to reduce time to market and increase return on investment for their products and services.
In 2017, elastic.io became part of mVISE Group, a German publicly listed IT consulting company with over 15 years of enterprise IT consultancy and project experience.