I don’t think anyone would argue with the observation that IT has grown in both scale and complexity over the years, and done so very quickly. At the same time, over the last decade we have seen an increase in smart devices and mobility that enables everyone’s ability to access technology and data. In the enterprise, Big Data has broken the control of the relational database, and the prominence of cloud computing has meant unprecedented access and changes that IT must address. Neither is there much argument when it comes to the rate of change—there is no end in sight.
Complexity looms on the horizon. Less obvious, however, has been a subtle change in the expectations of technology consumers, especially in corporate environments where prescribed access to highly structured data in often isolated silos is no longer acceptable. Instead, users are calling for greater flexibility, plus ever more integration, ease of use and access to IT on their own terms.
There’s An App For That
In many ways, this change in attitude is understandable; computers are no longer the novelty they once were, and users are growing up able to access all kinds of technology, both at work and in their daily lives. More than that, over the last few years we’ve all become accustomed to having what are really quite complex technologies and vast amounts of information delivered directly to us—in a highly digestible format, as a “consumable app” or application.
We’ve all said it: there probably is an app to do most things these days, especially in combination with cloud-based services. Where public services like Dropbox, Google and Facebook go, corporate IT soon follows, driven not just by cost and business benefits this time, but by users.
All kinds of applications are making their way into the cloud from where they can be delivered as services, from productivity staples such as ERP, CRM and HR systems, to Business Intelligence (BI) and Big Data analytics. It’s even becoming possible to deliver integration as a service. And now, all of these highly scalable and complex services are being made available to non-specialist users, via plug-ins to expose the required functionality available on the host platform and apps ready to run on devices of their own choosing.
Today, enterprise software doesn’t live and die inside the IT organisations, but also outside. Integration-as-a-Service platforms should look to deliver both integration services to IT organisations and to provide integration as a service for everyone.
What Users Want…
Delivery of IT services—such as Master Data Management, analytics, integration for IT and non-IT users, data cleansing, API management, and real-time marketing—through the cloud and easy-to-use consumable apps, can meet the changing needs and expectations of users of those services, and also benefit the businesses they work for. Instead of having to spend countless hours and money developing an app that hard codes assumptions about what users will want to do, for example, that investment can be directed towards building interfaces to allow them to make those decisions for themselves.
By exploiting APIs in both public and private cloud services, integration also becomes easier. The underlying complexity of the supporting infrastructure can be hidden and users empowered to leverage IT resources in innovative, productive and flexible new ways, often not envisioned by developers. It’s a win-win for users and companies alike. We need to enable the massive scalability and processing power of the cloud to exploit for business benefits, using the kind of apps that any business will want to use.