Posted on 14 January 2023

Organisations continuously face forces of digital business change opposed by those of stability. They must align people and processes despite these conflicting pressures. In this article we discuss how they can build the right strategy for architecture, development, platforms, design, process automation and integration.

 Key considerations

When it comes to building and improving internal competencies to create and scale differentiated and innovative digital products that support digital business demand, following topics need to be looked at:

  1. Architecture: Patterns, principles and practices that guide the structure and emergent design of applications.

  2. Development: The techniques, tools and technologies most directly involved in the creation of software.

  3. Integration: Methods for exchanging information between systems, including AI-augmented integration to increase productivity and code-based integration leveraging APIs and event channels.

  4. Process automation: Technologies for coordination and orchestration, augmented by AI, to evaluate processes, recommend actions and make decisions.

  5. UX design: Design capabilities that are continuous and feedback-driven, including design-to-code tools that can free up resources and address communication gaps


Technology platforms

Digitalization is driving application leaders in two opposing directions. The forces of organizational and technological change — which you can’t ignore — demand corresponding advances to application technologies and processes. Meanwhile, you can’t avoid taking actions to sustain existing capabilities, and sustainability requires stability. This dichotomy — change versus stability — presents the danger of divergent and uncoordinated responses. Such responses lead to an application organization where people, tools and processes are in conflict.

Half of organisations that have experienced a severe digital disruption have emerged “fit,” with relatively fast profit and revenue growth. The most impactful attribute of fit organizations versus the other half — those that emerged “fragile” — is alignment. In other words, consistency of leadership, vision and strategy. Staying aligned is key to thriving during digitalization.

To achieve and maintain alignment, consider both your current and future application landscape. Choose new technologies and practices that build upon what you have now and lead you to your digital vision, but beware of those that suddenly isolate parts of your organization. Evaluate innovations not only on how they can move you forward, but also on how they can inadvertently hold you back by demanding more change than you’re ready for, and set a timeline for their adoption accordingly. Be prepared to say no to ideas that take one aspect of your development organization in a direction that other aspects can’t follow. Coherent evolution, not chaotic revolution, must be your path.

Application Architecture, Development, Integration and Platforms

Figure 1. Application Architecture, Development, Integration and Platforms Overview.


Digital product delivery subjects the software delivery value stream to opposing demands. The forces of change require technology and process innovation, but the need to sustain existing capabilities requires stability. In response, you need a high-performance software delivery blueprint that balances change and stability. Failure to strike the right balance risks uncoordinated and conflicting responses.

Application architecture, tools, platforms, design, process automation and integration are the fundamental elements of high-performance software delivery. Architecture patterns and principles shape the selection of tools, platforms and API-based ecosystems that enable change. They bring innovation and development to a wider audience by using low-code tools to allow nontechnical business people to engage in the design and delivery of applications while sustaining a coherent approach. Teams elevate design to a core practice and deliver multiexperience solutions that use process automation for maximum continuity. Emerging solutions have to integrate with existing assets to enable the composable enterprise. The result? You achieve coherent evolution, not chaotic revolution.

#1: Architecture

Architecture is one of the keys to alignment. Expressed as patterns and principles, realized as platforms, and applied to guide emergent design, architecture can prevent chaos. As multiexperience apps and low-code solutions proliferate, application architecture must guide the front end while evolving the back end. Mesh app and service architecture (MASA), API mediation and event-driven architecture will continue to be important aspects.

Questions Your Peers Are Asking

  1. How can we best apply modern application architecture to optimize for addressing targeted business outcomes?

  2. What application architecture patterns and principles do I need to enable digital business?

  3. What are the key trends in platform architecture to support digital business?

  4. How can application architecture support low-code development?

  5. What is the role of the application architect in enterprise agile and DevOps?


#2: Development

Low-code applications are shifting many development tasks. With more of the front end being created by developers outside of IT, the challenge of sustaining and evolving the back end is growing. Application leaders must combine new multiexperience technologies with those of their organization’s legacy systems. Meanwhile, they must adopt innovations like AI-augmented development without threatening developers.

Questions Your Peers Are Asking

  1. How do we support and guide the adoption of low-code and no-code application development?

  2. What will be the impact of AI on development and on developers?

  3. Where do we choose low-code and no-code development over traditional coding?

  4. What are the key trends in the development platform technologies that support digital business?

  5. How can we build, attract and retain skilled developers?


#3: Integration

Integration is democratizing as SaaS services increasingly provide embedded integration capabilities aimed at business users, and AI-augmented integration promises increased productivity. At the same time, code-based integration leverages APIs and event channels. Organizations can react to these trends by creating a hybrid integration platform (HIP) that serves multiple integration personas, and setting up an integration strategy empowerment team (ISET) to support these personas.

Questions Your Peers Are Asking

  1. How can I create a pervasive integration strategy that meets the needs of a modern organization?

  2. What are the key trends in the integration platform technologies that support digital business?

  3. How does event-driven architecture impact integration?

  4. How will integration delivery and governance models evolve to support democratized integration?

  5. How will integration support business application initiatives?


#4: Process Automation

Coordination and orchestration are essential for alignment. Process automation technologies, working in the context of DigitalOps, can be powerful tools for consistency and agility. Augmented by AI, these tools are evaluating processes, recommending actions and making decisions.

Questions Your Peers Are Asking

  1. How can we foster innovation and drive business agility through business process automation?

  2. What are the key trends in process automation platform technologies to support digital business?

  3. How do we make automation scale and apply more broadly in the enterprise?


#5: UX Design

An effective UX design capability can be a significant competitive advantage. Mature DesignOps teams work alongside development teams to make design continuous and feedback-driven. Design-to-code tools can free up scarce developer resources while removing the wasteful designer-developer communication gap. Meanwhile, the reach of digital technologies grows as regulatory pressures drive higher levels of accessibility.

Questions Your Peers Are Asking

  1. How do we apply design methodologies to elevate the business value of apps through better UX?

  2. What are the key trends in design platform technologies to support digital business?

  3. How can we best meet requirements for digital accessibility?

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