Digital System Evolution: A Guide to Reinventing Your Digital Ecosystems
By Umar Akhtar
Modern enterprises are under an ever-increasing mountain of pressure. They must manage quickly changing customer expectations amid increasing economic uncertainty. In order to face these complex challenges, agility and adaptability are vital requirements, particularly for enterprises technical infrastructure and digital ecosystem.
As 2023 winds down and companies begin preparations for 2024 and beyond, the question of what to do about existing digital ecosystems becomes highly relevant.
In this article, we’ll highlight some things to consider when assessing your current digital tools and what to look for in modern solutions.
Assessing Your Current Digital Systems
Before embarking on any digital reinvention and modernization initiative, it’s essential to understand the state of the current platforms, tools, systems and determine where improvements need to be made. This assessment provides a clear snapshot of your current pain points across the as-is digital ecosystem and lays the groundwork for informed decision-making as you think about moving forward.
Identify Outdated Legacy Technologies
Legacy systems remain prevalent among several enterprises, with two-thirds of organizations still relying on them for core business activities. However, companies need to determine if these systems still provide the required benefits or lead to unnecessary downtime, increased security risks and maintenance costs, and a lack of efficiency.
Identify any systems that aren’t entirely modern, such as those forced to run on-premises or those approaching end-of-life (EOL), and determine their impact on operations over the last year.
Legacy technologies, infrastructure and technical architecture are the biggest culprits of reduced performance but aren’t the only ones contributing to it. Software that has been poorly implemented or that isn’t being utilized to its fullest may also be an issue.
Gather analytical data and conduct comprehensive tests on all applications within the ecosystem. This provides insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your digital ecosystem and serves as a baseline against which future improvements can be measured.
Calculate the Financial Impact
The financial impact of existing systems is often a clear indicator of whether or not a change needs to be made. Any calculations should encompass the total cost of ownership for the remaining lifespan of any current systems and the costs associated with any new systems.
This includes the immediate expenses associated with any necessary upgrades or replacements and the potential long-term gains in terms of operational efficiency, revenue generation, and competitive advantage.
Gather Feedback From Internal Teams
Performance and financial assessments are essential to get to the root cause of many issues, but speaking to internal teams and users is also necessary to gather first-hand feedback about current tools.
Operators who use various systems daily, including CMSs, ERP systems, and others, are the best equipped to determine whether or not these tools are currently up to par or negatively impacting their ability to do their jobs.
Create a Business Case for Change or Optimization
Using the data gathered from various assessments, the next step should be to document and build a business case for changing or optimizing the current digital system. Use storytelling paired with data to explain why addressing that problem or need using newer software is critical to your organization.
Mapping a Digital Systems Strategy for the Year Ahead
After the initial assessments are completed to understand the current state of affairs, you can begin mapping the strategy for the year head.
- Determine business goals and objectives for the coming year
The first step is identifying the business goals that will shape the strategy in the coming year. This requires you to collaborate closely with key stakeholders to define measurable objectives for the upcoming year.
These goals should align with your organization’s broader strategic vision and roadmap for the foreseeable future. They may include targets related to increasing revenue and customer satisfaction, improving operational efficiency, or entering new markets.
- Take stock of current digital trends
Next, taking stock of any current digital trends shaping the world around you is necessary. Technology in the modern era continues to evolve at an alarming rate, and businesses must carefully consider which trends are worth pursuing and which ones may only be a distraction.
For example, artificial intelligence (AI) has dominated the thought process of every enterprise across the globe throughout 2023. However, not every company can or should seek the same level of AI adoption.
Gartner points out that AI ambition among enterprises falls under one of two categories: everyday AI and game-changing AI. The former aids productivity but will likely become table stakes in the coming years. The latter has the potential to disrupt business models and entire industries.
Assessing the opportunities and risks of following a particular trend and the extent to which your business is capable of doing so is paramount to the success of reinventing the digital ecosystem. A similar approach should be applied when assessing the extent to which the business can adopt other trends, such as composability or MACH, over the coming year.
- Assess relevance to your industry and organization
Not all digital trends will be equally applicable or beneficial to every industry or organization. Conduct a thorough assessment to determine which trends are most relevant to your industry and organizational context.
Consider factors such as customer demographics, regulatory environments, competitive landscape, and existing technological infrastructure, and then decide which trends should be followed immediately and which ones to monitor for future implementation.
Prioritizing Initiatives for the Digital Ecosystem
With a strategy and roadmap in place, the next steps are to prioritize the new initiatives for changing or optimizing the digital ecosystem.
- Understand the scope
Determine if you only need to make tweaks with some upgrades and maintenance or if a new system, tech stack overhaul or digital transformation might be warranted.
Companies with recently implemented modern infrastructures may only need to undergo maintenance with support from a trusted technology partner or may be ready to add another piece to their composable software stack puzzle.
On the other hand, organizations heavily reliant on legacy tools may decide that now is the right time to migrate to a new system before their current software reaches its end of life.
- Calculate potential TCO for new systems
Next, you need to calculate the potential costs of any new tools or technologies throughout their lifespan. Estimating the total cost of ownership will help you select the right tools that fit your business requirements and fall within budget. Those tools with the lowest total cost of ownership should gain priority over others.
- Estimate ROI of new systems
Along with calculating the total cost of ownership, you must also estimate the return on investment of adopting new systems. While some systems may have a lower total cost of ownership, they may not be able to guarantee the best ROI due to limited features or incompatibility with existing systems. Pairing ROI and TCO calculations allows you to estimate which technologies will likely be worth the investment for your specific use case.
- Consider change management and training requirements
Adopting new technologies can be largely beneficial for modern enterprises. However, the time to ramp up and resources needed to implement change management and train employees on using these particular tools must be factored in.
- Determine budget and available resources
Once you have all the cost data for new initiatives, you can determine which ones align with your budget and available resources. In cases where the company doesn’t have the team members or technical expertise to implement these new solutions, having a reliable partner to assist is necessary.
Building the Foundations for a Digital Ecosystem
In order to meet the requirements of agility and resilience that allow enterprises to be competitive in the modern era, new technology initiatives should follow an approach that supports, flexibility, security, scalability and composability.
Using this approach, enterprises can ensure that their digital ecosystem is robust and adaptable to future challenges. As such, new technologies should enable businesses to do the following:
Build on a digital core: Applications hosted in the cloud allow businesses to build a digital core that houses all platforms and shares data throughout the enterprise, thus improving flexibility and interoperability.
Create a central integration hub and data orchestration layer: A digital integration hub provides the integration and data management services so that data and applications flow seamlessly across the enterprise. In the cloud, a data orchestration layer manages interactions and interconnections between other applications, data transformation, authentication and integrations.
Plug in proven and repeatable solutions: The ability to quickly plug pre-integrated and pre-configured applications into their core operations enables businesses to accelerate digital reinvention.
Characteristics to Consider in Modern Digital Experience Solutions
To locate the right solutions that support a robust digital ecosystem and enable the delivery of a modern digital experience, enterprises should consider the following characteristics:
- Composable Architecture: Composable architecture emphasizes the ability to assemble and reassemble various software components to create custom solutions tailored to specific business needs, providing flexibility and adaptability in digital experiences.
- MACH: MACH architecture, comprising Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless principles, promotes flexibility, scalability, and agility in building digital experiences, making applications well-suited for dynamic and rapidly evolving digital environments.
- User-friendly Interface: A user-friendly interface ensures that the digital experience solution is intuitive and easy for users to navigate, enhancing their overall satisfaction and productivity.
- Roles and Permissions: Implementing roles and permissions allows for granular control over user access, ensuring that individuals only have access to the information and functionalities relevant to their responsibilities enhancing security and data integrity.
- Cross-platform Compatibility: Cross-platform compatibility ensures the solution works seamlessly on various devices and operating systems, catering to a diverse user base and facilitating a consistent experience across different platforms.
- Accessibility Support: Accessibility features ensure that the solution is usable by individuals with disabilities, promoting inclusivity and compliance with accessibility standards.
- Robust Security and Compliance: Robust security measures and compliance adherence safeguard sensitive data and ensure legal and regulatory compliance.
- Scalability and Flexibility: The ability to scale and adapt the solution to accommodate growing user bases and changing business needs is crucial for long-term viability and cost-effectiveness.
- DevSecOps Support: DevSecOps integration incorporates security practices early in the development process, ensuring that security is ingrained in the solution’s architecture and reducing vulnerabilities in production.
Common Problems and Goals of Modern Enterprises
Enterprises assessing their digital ecosystem may be unsure about where their problems truly lie and what their goals should be. At Content Bloom, we have found the following to be the most common issues enterprises face and the goals they are looking to achieve:
Companies reliant on monolithic architectures often struggle with siloes throughout the organization. This leads to additional challenges, including slow time to market, increasing complexity in managing the digital ecosystem, and the aftereffects of tight coupling and vendor lock-in. These problems limit a company’s ability to adapt to changing business needs and market conditions.
Forward-thinking organizations aim to become more agile to respond faster to customer needs, market trends, and opportunities. To accomplish this, they must construct a domain and capability-centric organization where product teams can operate independently using a shared language.
Evaluate Your Digital Ecosystem
Content Bloom can play a key role in helping enterprises evaluate their digital ecosystems and ensure they begin the new year on the right foot. Our experience in content management and various digital experience tools, our ability to build feature-rich and scalable applications, and our ability to get projects over the line on time and budget allow us to provide the required services.
From assessing your current systems to mapping out a strategic course for the year ahead, our collaborative approach ensures that your digital evolution aligns seamlessly with your business objectives.
After a multimillion-dollar acquisition, Content Bloom helped a leading energy retailer with its data migration strategy. They needed to merge systems under the existing enterprise tech umbrella to streamline operations, mitigate performance risks, and make future digital enhancements and maintenance easier. With Content Bloom, they accomplished this with zero downtime and now enjoy more cost efficiencies and faster time to market.
Learn more about how we accomplished this by reading our case study: System Migration for Enterprise Acquisitions.
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