Technology has become the lifeblood of businesses today. A lot of business rely on technology to achieve or improve their business objectives.
Technology today is so integral to a business that there is a cost to not evaluating and adopting the current trends. Good investments in technology translate into business savings and agility — both of them extremely critical in today’s ultra-competitive environment.
Lets attempt to understand it using a couple of small case studies (a 10-min crash course on how technology impacts both the top-line and bottom-line for a business)
Left Inc. vs Up Inc.
Imagine I drive for a ride hailing company. Say I have two major options as a driver — I either drive for Left-Inc or for Up-Inc. And, I think they are pretty much the same. So it doesn’t make much of a difference. I don’t really have any specific criteria in picking one over the other.
Now say Left-Inc understands this. They realize that they become more successful when more drivers offer rides through Left Inc. And they decide to tackle it. Say, they incentivize a driver if they provide more rides through Left-Inc on weekends.
Up-Inc feels that they can do better. They come up with a scheme that incentivizes the driver by miles driven over the week and not for the rides provided.
The success of these initiatives depends on how agile Left-Inc is compared to Up-Inc or vice-versa. The pace of business innovation is also set by how fast technology can deliver these services.
Now, say, for this particular case, one of them was running micro-services and another one was running a monolithic application. Whose technology stack will adapt faster?
Syn-pay vs. Ack-pay
Lets think of another example. Think of payment gateways and their customers. Syn-pay and Ack-pay, both are in the payment gateway services, they are fierce competitors. Syn-pay Inc comes up with a program to provide more rebates to customers over Ack-pay. And Ack-pay decides to not charge for a first few thousand transactions every month. Both innovate to address their target segment.
In both the above businesses (ride-hailing and payment-gateways), innovation is a critical aspect. Businesses today have the need to innovate to stay relevant. Additionally, for businesses, technology forms a core and critical component of their business. They are dependent on technology for their competitive advantage. Without the technological challenges tackled and streamlined, they cannot be agile.
Cloud(s) —efficient utilization with faster time to market
Now say, Syn-pay realizes that it’s easier for it to prevent frauds on its platform if it scores a request against a ML-model. But for that, it needs to build and iterate on an ML-model, and that’ll take time. Is there a way to quickly build the model?
For the sake of simplicity, say building a model needs collecting data, cleaning data, ingesting data, building real-time ingestion pipeline, scaling infrastructure to handle the data pipeline, building expertise to manage all this, then building a model, improving its accuracy and scoring it. Without Syn-pay’s investment into this, it will take a lot of time and effort.
Syn-pay realizes that a bunch of the above mentioned tasks can be outsourced. For a small fee, there are services out there that can be readily consumed. Now it can focus on building the model to target its use-case. The rest is taken care of.
Syn-pay uses that cloud provider to work on its data driven initiatives. Syn-pay has just committed to using a service outside of its current infrastructure footprint.
Since Syn-pay has brought down the number of fraudulent transactions, it is saving a lot of money. Syn-pay passes on the savings to its customers. Ack-pay needs to innovate and improve. They need to find a way to stay competitive.
For businesses, apart from not having to manage their IT infrastructure, they will adopt cloud to innovate faster.
Microservices — Shrinking development lead times
Cloud adoption holds the promise to optimize the IT spend. It also provides an opportunity to adopt and experiment with micro-services. The eventual goal of every organization (in addition to delivering growth by aligning resources for their core offering) is to make the organization more agile for quickly delivering IT/operations/applications.
The way forward
Moving to the cloud has its advantages. Using micro-services based approach to redevelop software while moving to the cloud is probably an ideal choice.
However the real world consists of existing infrastructure, people with existing expertise and applications that support and run the business. To get to a cloud native micro-services based software architecture will need careful planning by the business and stakeholders.
There are multiple ways to move forward. It could be as simple as using migration tools provided by major cloud providers to run a lift-n-shift kind of operation. Or, applications can be moved to the cloud while rewriting them as micro-services.
It is quiet clear that cloud adoption has benefits for an organization. At the same time, adopting micro-services also adds a lot of value to an organization’s agility and ability to innovate quickly.
But the center of this change is the people in the organization. While the benefits of these technologies are well known, the ability of an organization to take on this risk and invest resources to move forward will determine how competitive it will stay going forward.
Cloud and micro-services adoption is a journey. The innovation and planning needed to reach the destination won’t be limited to just the IT organization. It is a change that will need active participation from a larger part of organization and at the same time will have an impact across the organization.
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