by Jarkko Enden, Partner and Head of Technology at Nortal, October 26, 2020
To remain competitive, companies have to adapt their strategies, methods and organization and bring their technological process into shorter cycles. Agility is no longer just an advantage, but rather a necessary prerequisite for survival in competitive sectors. Based on a modular, digital ecosystem, Nortal’s approach to developing technological landscapes for modern enterprises has become the enabler of success in the modern business world.
Many companies are stuck between a rock and a hard place when choosing their digitalization strategy. On the one hand, the existing IT systems are increasingly seen as a burden — an obstacle that slows down the company’s transformation and hinders the introduction of new technologies. And on the other hand, companies often fear that implementing technological innovations could cause the existing landscape of older systems to collapse. Although there is no miracle cure for this situation, a well-considered use of technology, coupled with the right business and IT strategy and appropriate partnerships, can become a crucial factor that rapidly increases a company’s adaptability and competitiveness.
Nortal’s digital ecosystem approach allows gradual and continuous improvement while bringing tangible benefits for businesses. Its concept is based on the conviction that open, efficient software architecture is critical in adapting to ever-changing business requirements.
The digital ecosystem approach initiates a shift toward viewing IT as an ecosystem, rather than a simple business function. As technology can change entire industries’ business models and create new business opportunities for innovators, IT must become a strategic partner to management and an enabler of business transformation.
However, these changing requirements for cooperation between IT and business units are pushing large monolithic applications, which cover many business functions (e.g., in the area of ERP systems) to their limits. Hence, the ecosystem approach aims to restrict systems that have been extended far beyond their core functions over the years, back to their valuable role.
A simple and secure networking of the most diverse systems and devices, and the intelligent use of their data, forms the core of the ecosystem approach. Also, since the importance of delimiting individual systems’ functionalities is growing, it becomes critical to make appropriate choices regarding the products and their areas of application and external IT service providers.
While the deployment of globally sold standard IT products and multi-tenant cloud services (SaaS) poses its own challenges, building a complex digital ecosystem without existing market-ready solutions is too slow, expensive and risky. Therefore, our ecosystem approach is based on a service-layer architecture that enables smooth cooperation between different products and individual solutions.
This is relevant when complex IT systems support a significant part of business activities, regardless of the industry or systems in use. For example, it can be applied to companies in the manufacturing industry where Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are the core production solutions, and in the healthcare sector where Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems or Hospital Information Systems (HIS) are at the center of the technological landscape.
In addition to production systems, standard products for supporting business processes, such as sales and finance, are important for the ecosystem approach.
The key to successfully realizing the benefits of the ecosystem approach lies not only in the selection of specific products or modules, it also requires an understanding of a holistic approach when implementing business-critical systems based on valid problem definitions.
The solution brings forth various business and technological advantages. And one of the most dominant benefits is that it gives companies full ownership and control over their IT architecture. It places management in the driver’s seat while utilizing increased agility in responding to changes, proactive business management and a lower threshold for trying out new business ideas.
As with all large IT projects, the key to a successful transition into an ecosystem approach lies in dividing the project into sufficiently small, manageable components and agile development practices. Agile methods make it possible to ensure that the direction, quality and speed of the transformation throughout the entire project align with the specified goals. Combined with DevOps-based continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD), these practices allow small changes to be quickly put into production. This approach reduces risks, training needs, friction and resistance to change within the organization.
If you want to know more about how to build an IT architecture that better adapts to existing and future business needs, and you want to dive deeper into the benefits of a digital enterprise ecosystem, download our white paper “Building a digital enterprise ecosystem.” Or let’s get in touch!