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How Digital Transformation Impacts Software Development

Digital Transformation-2The global phenomenon of digital transformation means a tectonic change in the landscape most companies operate in. Today, there are very few products, if any, that are not affected on some level by the widespread switch to digital technologies. In industries ranging from agriculture through hospitality to high-tech industrial manufacturing, digital transformation represents at the same time a major challenge and a wealth of opportunities.

Less mature organizations focusing on new, tech-savvy market players stimulating competition often can’t see the forest for the trees. As new technologies enable previously unheard of business models and new sources of revenue, the familiar definition of the market is expanded.

“Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers.”

– The Enterprisers Project

It is true that software development is the underlying enabler of digital transformation, which is why we’ll address this topic in the following section. But in order to adapt to the radical change that digital transformation represents, it’s not enough to just tweak existing software product development processes. Organizations as a whole have to evolve to manifest consumer-orientation throughout their customer-facing processes, and eventually in their end products.

Resonating with fast-changing customer needs requires a whole new approach that will change the entire company. Developers not attempting to jump on this elusive bandwagon risk falling behind in the race.

Impact on Software Development

In recent years, the majority of companies across the globe have felt one, if not the most important, result of digital transformation: the skyrocketing importance of software.

We’re witnessing an explosion in the software content of all kinds of products. Software enhances, expands, and in some cases radically restructures the way a number of product categories, services, and organizations work. The effects of this trend in finance, healthcare, mobility, and a range of other industries is already evident – and digital transformation still has a long way to go.

Digital-Transformation-intland

As software is used in more and more products to expand functionality and to update existing infrastructures, the quality of software products is becoming crucial. Software has come to directly affect the financial success of development companies.

We have seen a good example of this process unfolding in numerous locations globally. Following the international success of innovative mobility providers such as Uber and Lyft, traditional taxi companies across the world have been forced to build ride-booking apps to stay relevant. An app that provides superior user experience can be key to staying competitive in this new market landscape.

As a result, designing products with software quality and customer experience in mind have become key aspects of business maturity in a digitally transforming world. This process is evidenced by the steadily mounting adoption rate of Agile and DevOps practices that promise the accelerated delivery of quality, customer-focused software solutions.

“Digitization requires more than focusing on the development methodology. It is more about the attitude when developing software and the necessary mindset and environment” – 

– Challenges of the Digital Transformation in Software Engineering

While Agile and DevOps surely help, they are but the first steps in the process of digital transformation maturity. The radical evolutionary process of digital transformation necessitates not just a facelift, but a complete overhaul of the company’s approach to value delivery.

Leaning back after a successful Agile/DevOps transition demonstrates a myopic view and mindset. Flexibility needs to be worked into the fibres of any organization aiming to tackle future technological challenges. According to leading analysts and business thinkers, companies today have to get used to the idea of continuous improvement in all aspects of their value creation processes, backed by the smart implementation of new technologies.

Staying Open to New Technologies

Digital transformation is a twofold challenge that requires companies to adapt in:

  1. resources, processes, tools & infrastructure
  2. mindset and culture.

Product developers need to be able to deploy new functionality continuously. This necessitates both a new approach and an updated infrastructure that enables the fast delivery of quality (software) products.

Software experts and industry analysts agree that the key to staying competitive in this shifting market is being open to new technologies. Existing toolchains and previous time and effort investments in processes that work fine in the present should not limit this readiness for change.

“We recommend to be open for new technologies or approaches and not hang on prior decisions based on the motto <<It still works and will also be a suitable solution for the next years. We do not need a new technology>> “

– Challenges of the Digital Transformation in Software Engineering

The short-term approach of responding to current (and in many cases, past) challenges won’t prepare the organization for when the revolutionary changes of digital transformation really take root. New technologies, development methodologies, and customer needs are being created at an unprecedented pace, bringing with them a trend of technological heterogeneity.

In today’s new and fast-evolving device environment, developers need to be able to adapt to new technologies, and accommodate these in their product innovation efforts. Some already apparent technology trends promise solving this challenge. For instance, experts recommend a focus on modularity with the adoption of microservices architectures, the heavy use of smart automation in product development processes, and implementing a more agile team culture.

But most of all, they suggest that we acknowledge and adapt to new devices and technologies and leverage them to create not just new products, but whole new business models and sources of income.

How to Adapt to Technological Heterogeneity?

Therefore, future-proofing the organization as a whole starts with adjusting the company’s stance on technology. Embracing and taking advanage of the diversity of new innovations is going to be key to staying relevant a changing market environment.

As software is at the heart of this change, the first step is to create a strategy on tailoring your software development infrastructure to the requirements of a fully digital era. Integrations will be crucial in maintaining a unified view of the value stream while keeping a flexible approach to diverse technologies.

Related reading: Unification vs Integration: Main Value Processes for Traceability

Being able to provide a single source of truth across product innovation efforts and teams could make or break the success of new projects. Platforms such as integrated Application Lifecycle Management tools are becoming crucial in providing the transparency and flexibility that enables an organization to prepare for the challenges of digital transformation.

Using a fully integrated ALM solution with an open architecture takes the edge off technological heterogeneity. It lets you implement new technologies without unleashing chaos, maintaining transparency while providing the flexibility needed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – accelerated market environment.

Author: Kristof Horvath

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