Should You Support A Digital Business Platform in the Cloud?
by Betsy Burton
Over the last several months, I have been developing and delivering research focused on the digital business platform market. My work has included several blogs, as well as a note on redefining the digital business platform (DBP) market (see Market Definition for Digital Business Platforms in 2020). In addition, I am excited to be in the final stages of releasing an Aragon Globe on the DBP market that highlights the features and capabilities needed to support this market, the trends impacting the market, and an evaluation of several major DBP providers.
One of the aspects that I found most interesting during this research is the cloud computing architectures at stake. Major providers support very different development and deployment architectures including in-house, private cloud, cloud (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and hybrid cloud.
The challenge technology service providers (TSP) and end-user organizations face is this: what is the best architecture for a DBP product/service and digital business solution? Those companies seeking to upgrade their enterprise technology need to understand the benefits of cloud computing and the cloud computing top providers. In this blog we introduce a decision framework we created to help organizations evaluate and make these decisions.
Business Needs Must Drive Architecture and Technology Decisions
Digital business is first and foremost a business issue that is supported and enabled by technology and services; digital business is not a technology-driven issue (see Promoting a “Digital Technology Platform” is Misleading and a Mistake). Digital business refers to a business model or models that are specifically designed to enable organizations to proactively reach, serve, and support their customers and partners from their contextual perspective (i.e., their personal, physical, and virtual context).
Therefore, any DBP product or service decision must be made with a clear understanding of your organization’s digital business vision and strategy.
We tell organizations all the time that they must not purchase a new enterprise technology product or sign a DBP service agreement without some definition of your business’s future-state and its implications on your people, business, partner ecosystem, business processes, data and analytics, and technology.
There are two important factors that should be considered when selecting a DBP:
1. The scope of data, applications, and services that need to be integrated.
- Is your DBP-based solution largely integrating existing in-house applications and information, and then leveraging these to create new business models?
- Is your DBP-based solution primarily integrating information, applications, and services from external sources, business partners, and customers?
2. The degree of customization that will be required.
- Is your organization largely using templates, applications, services, data structures, and models from your DBP provider or its partners?
- Is your organization largely developing custom models, application logic, data sources, and shared services?
Understand that there are several other aspects that must be considered, none the least of which include security, availability, scalability, and reliability. However, these two dimensions are critical to be considered when determining your DBP architectural decisions.
How to Use This Decision Framework
Consider these two dimensions on a matrix. Recognize that few organizations will fit into just one of these categories, but it is the weighting on one side or the other that should be used as a guide in decision-making.
In this framework, the Y-axis represents the scope of diverse types of applications, services, and data that need to be integrated (primarily internal or external). And, the X-axis represents the degree to which your organization needs to build custom business processes, custom applications, or integrate with custom data (low to high).
I would encourage Aragon Research clients to read this research note for more details (see Decision Framework: Should You Support a Digital Business Platform in the Cloud?). In this note we discuss this framework in detail and provide actionable advice as to which architecture is best for each quadrant.
It is worth noting that this decision framework can be applied equally for solutions other than digital business. Organizations can use this research to find business platform examples and advice to help guide development and deployment architectures for any other applications and services.
End-user organizations: use this framework to help guide their digital business platform software architecture and their selection of a DBP product/service. It is necessary to understand the top enterprise software companies and have a sense of the enterprise software market more generally. Business and IT leaders may also find it valuable to use this framework to communicate their decisions to senior management.
Technology and service providers: use this decision framework to ensure their DBP product/service offering meets the needs of their target customers. TSPs may also consider using their framework as a training tool with sales to help their sales teams focus on the right opportunities.
There are many decisions that come into play when supporting digital business. Clearly there are business strategy and model issues (see Self-Assessment: Digital Business Strategy). There are functionality and capability requirements (see Visual Research Preview: Digital Business Platforms Market Definition). And, there are architectural decisions (see Decision Framework: Should You Support a Digital Business Platform in the Cloud?).
Last, and certainly not least, there must be an evaluation of the vendor providers’ vision and position in terms of the market, as well as their ability to effectively support this market vision. We will be addressing this last issue in the up-coming Aragon Globe on Digital Business Platforms.
I would encourage Aragon research clients to read this research, and if you have any questions or would like a discussion regarding your requirements to schedule an inquiry call with me. I look forward to this on-going investigation. Different cloud computing architectures are empowering digital business platforms and bringing new opportunities to the enterprise technology market.