To Realize True Transformation, Digitize and Orchestrate Business Processes

By Yaroslav Udachin, Technical Director, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance Industry Team, Cognizant Softvision

For clients in the Banking and Financial Services industry, the primary focus is to transform and become digital-first companies.

However, everyone has a different definition on what it means to become a true digital company. Does it mean relying on digital commerce channels with their customers, or is it something more?

Usually there are three main pillars that enable companies to provide a desirable digital customer experience with efficiency and accelerated time to market for products and offerings. A great deal of industry focus has been geared towards Digital Engagement and Enablement, but not as much towards Digital Process Efficiency. Digital Process Efficiency is a key pillar for enhanced customer experience, productivity and reduced time to market. Without efficient processing of transactions, there is no opportunity for digital engagement, scalability and velocity.

Orchestration — The Secret Weapon To Achieve Transformation

In order to transform organizations into digital-first companies, clients need to embrace technical enablers and accelerators — critical elements in achieving the process efficiencies and agility required to meet and exceed today’s rapidly changing customer demands and business needs. There are several technical enablers that help to digitize an organization. Some of them are common and widely used such as cloud infrastructure, integration layer of organization, API gateway and API management, Identity and Access Management, and also monitoring.

However, orchestration, which is commonly used for automation of processes and business transactions for human oriented workflows, should also be part of a transformation strategy. Although not as widely used as other common enablers, it is very important in the digitalization of a company’s processes.

When multistep distributed financial transactions are triggered across platforms in absence of an orchestration layer, the process becomes error prone and could lead to a variety of problems, including:

  • Room for error — Without an orchestrator, apps are harder to scale and perform without human interjection — making the room for error much larger.
  • Manual hours — If a transaction fails without an orchestrator, someone will need to manually check the results of the transaction, causing data to be inconsistent.
  • Speed and Flexibility — Apps without an orchestrator are typically slower time-to-market with inflexible business rules associated with them.
  • Single point of Failure — A system needs to take the role of coordination. If it will be one of the business applications, it will impact on the performance and scalability of this application, and will make it the single point of failure in case of any problems.
  • Manual clean up — In case of failure of one of the transaction steps, somebody will need to manually check the results of the transaction, or else the data will be inconsistent.
  • Slow time-to-market — Low flexibility of business rules as business needs evolve could also arise.

Usage of Orchestrator means to manage the workflow in a single transaction across platforms and guarantees successful execution of the transaction with rollback capabilities in cases of unsuccessful transactions. This helps mitigate the risk of issues mentioned above, and ensures transactions, data integrity and typically quicker transaction processing leading to improved customer experience.

Some advantages of using the orchestrator include:

  • Flexible business rules
  • Fast time-to-market of new business services/products
  • High scalability and reliability of the solution
  • Guarantee of business data consistency

A Transaction Execution in the Distributed Environment

Let’s take a closer look at transaction execution in the distributed environment with microservice architecture.

Some of the business operations, especially in the finance industry, need to be executed as a single transaction, where either all steps will be executed or none of them.

One example of such a transaction would be ‘post an invoice by the contract.’ This operation requires execution of workflow with smaller steps. All steps must be executed in order to post an invoice or must be rolled back in case of failure of even one step of the transaction.

In situations where a transaction is running without an orchestration of the whole transaction workflow and without rollbacks of it’s steps, failure of such an operation will cause data inconsistency, and some manual changes will need to be done in order to restore it and result in having to repeat the transaction again.

Sample Distributed Transaction Without Orchestrator

In a monolithic architecture with a single data repository transaction, invoice posting could be supported by the database where all steps of the transaction are controlled by DBMS transaction manager. But how do you manage execution of distributed transactions across different systems or services and their databases? In modern microservice architecture, where services and their data repositories are distributed, each step could be executed separately as a local transaction. In case of failure, all steps which are already done should be compensated (or cancelled). Such an approach for distributed transactions is named Saga pattern, and orchestrator manages all the workflow of the distributed transaction.

Sample Distributed Transaction With Orchestrator

Each step in a distributed transaction could be executed as a local transaction in a separate service or system. It also must have compensational logic in case of failure in order to rollback all the changes which were done by the local transaction. The overall control under the whole transaction is done by the orchestrator (it runs local transactions, changes the status of the transaction and runs compensation mechanism in case of failure). The orchestrator controls data isolation and consistency, error handling and retries, audit trail, state management of the transaction and its respective steps.

It’s critical that companies understand the importance of digitizing their processes as they look to evolve toward digital-first models. That process begins with integrating systems with complex business transactions, using Saga pattern and orchestrator. This will not only help to digitize your business processes, enhance and optimize functionality, reduce costs, and deploy new technologies. Ultimately, the final result will be a vastly improved end-to-end customer journey, one that’s positioned for further transformation and potential growth.

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