Chief Evangelist,

Consumerization is changing enterprise computing across all industries. Like death and taxes, consumerization is inevitable. It’s not a strategy to be adopted. Rather, consumerization is changing the nature of technology and needs to be embraced as part of digital transformation.

When we talk about consumerization, we mean the impact of consumer technologies on enterprise technology. New technologies and business models in the consumer sector are driving change in enterprise computing. Technologies that enable work-from-home, provide better data access, and improve personal productivity are dissolving the barriers between workers and the workplace. For example, enterprise data and communications are now accessible from mobile devices using self-service portals, just as consumers access their bank accounts or social media accounts. Everything is connected. Enabling users and systems to collaborate needs to be at the heart of any digital transformation strategy.

Understanding the nature of consumerization and its impact on your enterprise will keep you ahead of the competition and, more importantly, bring you closer to your customers. Embracing consumerization as part of digital transformation also requires a new type of ecosystem and an outside-in perspective of enterprise data management.

Looking Outside-In, Not Inside-Out

Most organizations aren’t as prepared as they should be to adapt to consumerization. Enterprise technology has traditionally used a centralized approach that calls for long-term planning and resource-intensive development projects. The challenge with outdated enterprise architecture frameworks is they lack the flexibility and agility to adapt to rapidly changing market needs. Incorporating disruptive technologies into the enterprise requires continual evaluation and iteration of the enterprise architecture.

Consumerization and digital transformation have converged to create the perfect storm to drive enterprise evolution. An enterprise architecture needs to be structured to capitalize on change and adapt to trends such as consumerization. Network infrastructures need to be flexible with the fluidity to change, restructure and rearchitect the ecosystem to accommodate new forces inside and outside the enterprise. Enterprise adaptability requires the ability to respond rapidly to new concepts, new trends, new events and new customer demands. New business models need to embrace an outside-in perspective to accommodate consumerization and meet customers’ evolving expectations.

In the past, organizations would undertake big-picture projects that would take years to complete. This approach maintains an inside-out perspective, applying a centralized enterprise approach that dictates the requirements for the end-to-end ecosystem. By adopting more agile development strategies to support an ever-changing software development environment, enterprise architects can better accommodate pressures from consumerization. Adaptive enterprise strategies are needed to get value from new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The enterprise-wide projects devolve into smaller, collaborative initiatives managed by agile, cross-functional teams.

Adopting an outside-in perspective with a continuously evolving enterprise design provides the agility needed to address the changing needs of the enterprise. The centralized, project-oriented management style gives way to a more product-oriented approach with shorter development cycles, faster time to market and increased returns with a better customer experience.

Preparing for a New Agile Enterprise Ecosystem

Applying an agile approach to enterprise design guided by iterative updates provides the ability to cope with external market drivers, such as consumerization. To simplify the complexity of enterprise architecture projects, adopting a “just-enough” approach makes it easier to align an adaptive enterprise architecture to strategic business objectives. Just-enough architecture keeps projects, initiatives, and solution design in line with policies and principles, without slowing down execution.

It’s all about addressing market drivers with finite projects that yield immediate returns. Using an agile approach shortens time-to-market and speeds time to deployment. It also makes it easier to prioritize changes to maximize business impact. And it gives you more control over business transformation. An interconnected enterprise architecture promotes better collaboration and shared insights. The result is a digital business that is equipped to embrace consumerization and deliver an excellent customer experience.

Implementing an agile enterprise architecture offers many advantages:

  • It connects software development to concrete business goals.
  • It enables the simultaneous exploration of multiple solutions.
  • It shortens the time for analysis, testing and experimentation to eliminate failures, i.e., fail fast.
  • It allows for more efficient resource allocation with greater flexibility to meet changing demands.
  • It empowers cross-functional teams, including better information sharing and clear accountability and alignment with a shared mission statement.
  • It helps senior management strengthen a broader roadmap, sharing vision and goals with the entire enterprise to allow for ideas and collaboration, cohesion and transparency.
  • It also creates a continuous integration and delivery model with validation and testing to achieve “good enough” results to keep business moving forward.

Collaboration is a critical element of adaptive enterprise development, bringing enterprise architects, IT and senior management together to enable agile transformation that yields immediate returns. Distributing design accountability across the enterprise builds consensus on complex business decisions. It enables organizations to react to external market forces, such as changing customer needs and technology consumerization.