One of the most profound changes in the history of IT is gaining momentum, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces organizations of all sizes to embrace digital business transformation.
While digital business transformation is in the eye of the beholder, the one thing that is certain is that event-driven IT platforms that drive real-time processing are gaining traction at both the edge and in the cloud. IT organizations are starting to appreciate the need to both process and analyze data in near-real time at the points where it is created and consumed. Batch-oriented processing to drive a business process is becoming antiquated, as organizations look to analyze data orders of magnitude faster than any human thought possible.
Applications, as a result, need to increasingly analyze data in real time, says TIBCO Software COO Matt Quinn.
"It’s a bit of a philosophical shift," says Quinn.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made a similar observation during the recent Microsoft Ignite 2020 conference when he told attendees that understanding data in real time is crucial to digital business transformation.
Changes need across IT stack
The challenge IT organizations face now is determining to what degree they want to construct these platforms themselves using everything from Apache Kafka messaging software to artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, versus migrating to platforms that pre-integrate many of these capabilities.
Swim.AI, for example, is making the case for an open source Swim Continuum platform that makes it possible to deploy continuous intelligence applications based on streaming data. Such technologies will provide organizations with a simpler way to accelerate digital business transformation initiatives.
"You don’t need to store the data to analyze it," says Max Hermann, chief marketing officer for Swim.AI.
The Swim.AI platform is gaining traction because - among other things - it makes it simpler to build, for example, digital twins of real-world processes that organizations are now trying to replicate online in response to the pandemic.
Regardless of how any IT organization goes about driving digital business transformation, batch-oriented applications that have dominated IT for more than three decades will soon wane. While they may never disappear completely, telling business leaders it will require 24 hours to update an application using batch processes is simply no longer an acceptable business outcome. Business users now expect to have the same experience at work as they do when they access consumer applications. Organizations that are unable to live up to that real-time expectation will soon find themselves consigned to the scrap heap of history.
IT as a consequence has never been more important than it is today. The issue is not every business leader appreciates the level of investment that's needed in modern IT applications and systems. They are willing to fund a transition to the cloud to make IT a more variable cost, but that's not nearly the same as investing in application experiences that ultimately delight customers. That failure to comprehend the strategic imperative for investing in real-time applications will soon prove fatal much sooner than most business leaders today realize, for businesses large and small alike.