Recently I was in an integration testing war room for a retail client who was implementing a brand new Order Management System. There were several applications silos involved in testing. I saw that the most challenging part for business analysts and testers was inability to understand the integration aspects. They have difficulty understanding what actually went wrong during integration of these applications silos causing order to be processed unsuccessfully. This has led to lot of defects being opened against SOA and Integration team without proper understanding of what actually went wrong. On the other hand SOA and integration team was frustrated as they have to get involved in each of this defects only finally to figure out that one of applications silos involved either missed sending some information or application silos were in disagreement of what information to be passed on. Often one piece of information means different things to different application silos.
Over a period of time the companies have build and evolved processes and services that lay across the application silos. Often business analyst fails to capture, understand and document the interdependency of these important processes or services. These processes are often hidden in some technical documentation across application silos. This leads to several adverse impacts such as business analyst fails to understand and capture the complete impact of a business change, inefficient and rigid business process which slows response to business change.
This made me think about Digital Business Design. As per Forrester survey and research Business people describe how the business needs to change in terms of business services, processes, information needs, and the like — i.e., business building blocks. Technical building blocks don’t mirror these types of business design points, so when they are the center of your integration strategy, you must map your technical building blocks to the business view, which slows business change. This is why digital business design is an important move away from traditional integration and toward a better approach centered on business building blocks.
As we all know Business agility is a major driver for SOA. A business focused SOA Strategy is a pre-cursor to Digital business design. Forrester defines the Digital Business design as “A business-centered approach to solution architecture, implementation, and integration that brings business and technology design together by placing design priority on user roles, business transactions, processes, canonical information, events, and other business aspects that embody a complete definition of a business.”
The Digital Business Design mandates a shift from Traditional Integration and SOA. In the situation we discussed there was a need to solution design approach which unifies the several order submission integration scenarios in a single order submission/fulfillment business service. This order submission/fulfillment business service definition and design in this scenario as per Digital Business Design requires
- Business Contract
- Information relating Successful criteria for sending information to several downstream Order fulfillment systems
- Although it may involves multiple integration technologies the design and implantation remains in a single artifact that reflects business
- Any Enrichment or Transformation of Information between Application Silos
- Canonical Information and Capability-Centric Information views
- User Roles
- Business Processes
- Service Governance, Monitoring and Control
Some prerequisites to implement a Digital Business Design in an Organization
- Broader Business Vision and Road map
- Value proposition to explain business about potential investment into Digital Business Design architecture, tools and application
- Define Clear outcome and goal
- Map your application Landscape to Digital Business Design
- Define reference Architecture
- Define selection criteria to Identify Digital Business Compliant tools and application
- Educate team
- High SOA Maturity
Finally remember that to implement a Digital Business Design is a gradual process.