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Legacy processes are holding back your digital business

Mary Branscombe | June 2, 2017
Having a digital business model isn't about online sales, and it’s not just about technology; it’s about using technology to support a flexible, connected operating model. But in many organisations, technology has outpaced process.

As Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group explained at the Build conference, Service Fabric was designed for building new, cloud-native microservice-based apps on, but you can now use it to containerize existing .NET apps, deploying them with Docker Compose. “Now you can take applications, including ones with existing code that you already have, update them to be a micro-service-based architecture, add additional micro services maybe with .NET Core or even with other different languages or frameworks, and run them all seamlessly inside a single cluster.”

 

Record and engage

Another key part of going digital is integrating new tools with the embedded systems that power your business processes.

That doesn’t mean your system of record goes away, but it needs to integrate with the ‘system of engagement’ that CRM has become. That’s what’s behind Microsoft offering both ERP and CRM as modules in its Dynamics 365 cloud service, for instance.

“ERP is going to live forever,” jokes Levie. “We aren't even close to disrupting anything in that space. But so much of it is focused on these systems of record and what we’ve seen is all this innovation in the past five to ten years has been more about these systems of engagement.” The next step is getting both systems to work better together, which helps create a digital business model that can better deal with the complexity businesses face.

“With all these systems of record, the data was relatively straightforward to manage, because it was essentially rows in a database.” But that hasn’t covered the large amount of information in your business that doesn’t have that clear structure. “Things like machine learning and AI may allow us to make sense of all that, to a point where you can get the structure of a system of record but for your unstructured information,” Levie suggests.

That’s a similar bet to the one Microsoft is making with its Common Data Model and the Microsoft Graph, which partners like Adobe, Mastercard, ZenDesk and Dun & Bradstreet are adopting. Adobe Marketing Cloud is using the CDM as a common, consistent language for sales, marketing and service data, as a way of connecting those ephemeral customer interactions with more structured records about products and invoices.

Levie predicts that the systems of engagement and record for unstructured content will be conflated. “That’s a lot of what the digital operating model is about. It relies on the fact that we have to be more agile, that there is a little bit more chaos, that there is more unsupervised collaboration…. It's not going to go away that you're going to want structured systems for inventory or financial data, but we think you have to use the two together in tandem.”

 

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