Decoupling for exponential IT: increase business agility to innovate at speed, continuously reinvent, and be resilient

November 20 2018

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Accenture IT

Exponential IT is Accenture’s name for a doctrine enabling companies to respond quickly to immediate business needs while continuously evolving for the future. Companies’ systems should support rapid launch of new products and services, while exploiting existing IT investments.

The path to exponential IT

To achieve Exponential IT, companies must increase their IT agility—the ability to use new and existing technologies to meet rapidly changing business demands, capitalize on up-and-coming market opportunities, forge new revenue streams, weather macroeconomic changes, and find cost savings. This means mastering leading-edge technologies that enable business innovation at unprecedented levels. And they must do it better and faster than their competitors. There are three reasons this kind of agility is essential today:

1. The nature of technology is changing.

2. The nature of innovation is changing because of technology.

3. Innovation is the key to creating value, and IT Agility is the key to innovation.

What’s getting in the way of reaching Exponential IT?

Technical Debt, slow changing legacy applications and processes are one of the key reasons why many companies struggle to achieve or even to start on path to exponential IT. According to an Accenture survey, C-suite executives say technical debt—the cost to rework IT to ensure the business thrives— severely limits their IT function’s ability to be innovative (70%), greatly limits their ability to migrate to new technologies (72%), and makes their IT function much less responsive to changes in the market (69%).

Yet, there is still tremendous value in legacy IT systems. It is no wonder that 70% of the executives Accenture surveyed want to keep their core systems as long as possible —they are chock full of value. In other words, what leaders really want most is to enjoy all the benefits of new information technologies, such as being able to adapt quickly to new situations, while keeping their legacy systems running.

The solution to this dichotomy of legacy systems containing both significant business value, but also high levels of tech debt, is called “digital decoupling”, and it allows organizations to create scalable, flexible, and resilient enterprise IT architecture.

Digital decoupling defined

Digital decoupling is a process of using new technologies, development methodologies and migration methods to build systems that execute strategy on top of legacy systems. Organizations can “decouple” the rapid execution of their business strategy from the more lengthy and gradual transformation of the enterprise.

Three application strategies which are essential to the Digital Decoupling and ultimately to Exponential IT journey are;

  • Liquid applications are assembled leveraging reusable components and modular architectures, and enabled by modern engineering techniques and a cloud-first mindset.
  • Intelligent applications leverage the latest advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics to maximize the business value of data.
  • Connected applications provide the technical means for partners, suppliers and customers to interact with each other and the internet of things and to change the nature of these interactions with AR/VR.

Digital Decoupling Journey

In contrast to a large scale, multi-year transformation programs, following approaches offer an alternative path for companies on their Digital Decoupling journey.

  • Decoupling data from legacy IT systems.
  • Decoupling applications from the legacy infrastructure.
  • Decoupling tightly integrated systems into loosely coupled systems.
  • Decoupling investments from individual projects, instead invest continually in evolving and improving system.

Integration as a digital decoupling enabler

Integration and API management platforms are the key enablers for achieving Digital Decoupling. Companies can layer and modularize systems using APIs and microservices, while continuing to decouple data and infrastructure. In doing so, they use service decomposition to break apart dependencies that make systems vulnerable and create rigidity, yet still combine functions when they belong together. For example, companies can merge systems that contain pricing logic and sales data to drive value and efficiency or break apart a monolithic enterprise resource planning system that is used by too many unrelated departments to differentiate where needed. In this future, applications are more “assembled” than built, a shift from traditional approaches.

MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is a key example of type of products that helps design, build, and manage API and integrations with a single product. The API-led connectivity and rapid application development approach helps accelerate API adoption and speed of delivery. Accenture has been MuleSoft alliance partner for past 10 years. Accenture has helped many fortune 500 clients on their journey to digital decoupling with their 2,200 MuleSoft trained, 500+ certified MuleSoft professionals across the globe. Model Driven Development as the one offered through LeanMIX accelerates and standardize API development.

A well thought through integration and API approach enables company to accelerate journey to digital decoupling. An ecosystem of APIs, aligned to business data domain makes it easier for users of APIs to adopt API led connectivity. APIs opens possibility of new revenue streams by offering to integration to existing, growing rich set of business data by providing easier connectivity to the legacy applications. With the combination of Integration Platforms and Machine Learning there is possibility of building “learning Integration platforms.”

With plethora of technology available and more open standards to integrate between these technologies, unless companies pivot themselves to the New and become “Smart Enterprises” they will struggle to survive in the world of ever growing competition.

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