SOA Talk

Oct 3 2012   9:08PM GMT

Developing Digital Disruption: On tap at Forrester AD event

Jack Vaughan Jack Vaughan Profile: Jack Vaughan

At Forrester Research’s Application Development & Delivery Forum last year, we were introduced to the idea that innovative disruption was the principal force propelling the future of IT. In the last year, the sense of disruption of convention in both digital and business models seems to have only grown stronger.

Disruption is driven in a big way by forwardly charging mobile computing applications. Strategies for successfully developing such apps are among the central elements upcoming at this year’s Forrester development event, dubbed the Developing Digital Disruption forum.

Aimed at application development and delivery professionals, the event coincides with another forum, called Embracing Digital Disruption, intended for business architects and business process leaders. For both forums, disruption is front and center.

“In  the mobile space we are seeing disruption of our customer’s planning,” said Forrester Principal Analyst Jeffrey Hammond, who indicated mobile apps are no longer mere add-ons to existing applications, but are instead the ‘’first option’’ for application development.  That turns the table on conventional approaches, and calls for changes in skill sets, he said.

“What people are finding is that it requires a lot of different skills. It requires a different culture in development. Before, ‘agile’ was nice to have.  Now it is a necessity,” he said.

And that changes not just how things are built but also the way in which they are designed. “The need to release [updates] more frequently has an impact on architecture,” said Hammond.

At the Developing Digital Disruption forum, Hammond and colleague Michael Facemire, Forrester senior analyst, will debate emerging mobile architectures such as MBaaS (Mobile back-end as a Service) and mixed-mode mobile middleware.

The digitization of business processes has gone far beyond the early Web days, when e-commerce emerged as a supplement to the basic endeavors of ‘’brick and mortar’’ enterprises. Online strategy and product strategy are one and the same.

“IT people traditionally think of the product as something on the other side of the wall. In an age of digital disruption, that is no longer a good assumption,” said Randy Heffner, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester.

Products, be they books, cameras or even cosmetics, increasingly appear as part of a digital on line presentation, and all stakeholders need to adopt new ways of thinking. “Don’t silo the product experience,” said Heffner.

Naturally, we asked Heffner what role SOA would play in this new world. “SOA continues as a way to package business logic so it is available where it needs to be,” he responded. “It’s an enabler for those who are doing new things like mobile. SOA is just in the big mix somewhere.”

Clearly, mobile applications connected via the Web  disrupt the status quo.  Development leaders must adjust, taking an even greater role in facilitating communication between technology, product and business architects. “You have to think about how you are doing customer experience and everything else in a much more integrated way,” said Heffner, who will discuss how to blend product design, systems of engagement and systems of record at the upcoming Forrester event.

Heffner’s forum session is entitled “Digital Disruption and the Future of your Business, Product and Technology Architectures.” Among a host of other sessions are ones addressing the need for agility in planning and governance, security in the age of the open Web and digital design experience principles. The event is set for Oct. 18 to 19 in Orlando, Fla.

Running as a theme through the event is the need for software development teams to better understand the customer. Even after nearly 20 years of the World Wide Web, many enterprise IT teams are still only familiar with development for ‘captive’ in-house users, who, if they don’t like an application interface, are not likely to get up and walk. Today’s Web-based mobile device wielding customers will, however.

Forrester’s analysis holds that more and more companies will begin think of themselves as software development companies, ones with a special focus on creating a topnotch customer experience.  “You can’t use an employee to make up for your poor user experience anymore,” said Hammond.

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