Choosing the Right Technology in 2022
Imagine buying a tool or technology that fixes a business problem within a matter of weeks, is low cost and barely requires any support. This sounds too good to be true for good reason. That’s because selecting the right tech platforms for your business requires a balanced mix of skills and knowledge stemming from technology, business and industry trends. It’s not enough to have the right team; enterprise leadership needs to inspire them to embrace complexity and associated risks when justified by long-term benefits. Too much focus on simplification can lead to shortsighted solutions, which may result in a much greater cost to the company.
HOW AI IS IMPACTING THE DECISION PROCESS
With artificial intelligence (AI) becoming more commonplace, companies are racing into new software which promises to deliver specialized intelligence with minimal effort. Some include virtual assistants in healthcare that have boasted a reduction of in-person visits by up to 20%, and others include self-driving cars, market movement predictions and more.
2021 highlighted opportunities for supply chain and manufacturing, collaborative virtual reality paired with social networking (Metaverse) and logistic networks to support real-time shipping management. While the focus was on point, the execution often lagged due to lack of emphasis on the bigger goal. One of the keys to success of enterprise strategies is finding the balance in application of general domain and monolithic platforms.
START UP TECHNOLOGIES VS MONOLITHIC SYSTEMS
Sometimes we see a company that initially recognizes the value of learning software and the ability to adapt and grow with processes while ensuring seamless data exchange. But then when all is said and done and projects are completed, that same company chooses to deliver or procure a rigid solution for enterprise projects. It appears contradictory, in hindsight, but happens more often than you might think. And that’s because the appeal of a rigid platform is the focus on simplicity and ability to make complicated decisions appear simple.
Many tech startups are looking to establish a specialized niche for their business. For enterprises trying to push the boundaries of AI or other technologies, they often seek these new platforms and products. But without carefully considering how these rigid platforms fit into their existing tech stack, businesses are often left with silos and inflexible monolithic architectures without robust sets of APIs or microservices designed to live in the cloud.
In monolithic architectures, applications are designed as one single undividable entity with the client, service side and database. Business processes are locked into a chunk of code not meant to be modular and/or embedded into existing ecosystems or tinkered or altered in any material way. However, there are benefits to this approach like greater stability, faster and simpler development and deployments, and valuable business intelligence.
We’ve seen companies forcing business processes into oversimplified models that often miss the most simplistic of capabilities. With the emergence of the low-code general domain platforms, organizations need to start questioning the diversity of their toolset and true capability of the specialized products that result in gaps and disconnections filled by costly (and now rare) human capital.
THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
When evaluating the innovative, up-and-coming new technologies on the market, the flexibility and integration capability of each product needs to be weighed against the complexity of business-specific functionality. The functions that can easily be replicated by general domain products should not be carved out into its own space.
The trend where specialized products establish an artificial niche have been on the rise, especially in highly visible areas such as healthcare and life sciences, supply chain and restaurant services. Companies must assess general domain capabilities in their solution design and platform selection to drive consistent and up-to-date enterprise architecture to support existing ecosystems.
In the age of AI and Metaverse, data is the rocket fuel at the core of every technology. It provides the ability to centralize and organize ample amounts of business data so these systems can consume and derive customized business patterns that create the ultimate optimization algorithms to transform every business into a self-sustained, continuously improved organism. As described earlier, any intellectual-property (IP)-locked platforms built around rigid concepts will inevitably become a costly disruption to businesses seeking to apply AI-powered business logic or enter the Metaverse in the future – as the rigid products often provide very limited support for integration and cloud compatibility, a detail often omitted by the sales team.
At the same time, product companies need to rethink the design of their offerings to meet increasing demand for change, adaptation and scale. The focus of niche platforms must start with a clear and specific competitive advantage in the selected domain. Business intelligence should not be easily recreated in general domain software. The platform must also be flexible and cloud-ready to securely expose data and application interfaces to ensure a brand name does not become synonymous with a “barrier” for customers.
While agile methods call for minimum viable products (MVPs) and general operating principles demand simplification, they do not call for lack of long-term vision and focus on the future. Organizations should recognize that a “North Star” solution requires incremental steps and each project is a steppingstone towards that solution. A team with the proper mix of talent and experience will help businesses navigate through finding just the right balance of complexity, benefits and strategic direction when choosing technology for an organization.