IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

Unlocking legacy assets with an internal digital platform

By Patrick Martlew
Mon 25 Jun 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article written by ThoughtWorks Australia head of technology Scott Shaw

In traditional organisations, leaders have spent many years building new business capability and investing in the modernisation of legacy systems and processes. The pain of integrating change across siloed assets was considered an unfortunate, but inevitable part of remaining relevant in an ever-changing marketplace.

Today, the playing field has changed. Large-scale enterprise finds itself competing with digital-first startups, who have the flexibility to adapt quickly and disrupt the market without the baggage of existing technology, processes and culture.

But all is not lost for the goliaths of industry. Decades of investment have created a wealth of business assets, including technology systems, an abundance of data, strong brands and deep customer relationships. If these organisations can unlock their assets from their legacy prisons, they too can deliver on new business ideas quickly and create a significant competitive advantage for themselves.

So, how exactly do they do that?

To be successful, organisations must shift their thinking from integrating multiple systems across the business, to building a platform. The term “digital platform” has gotten a lot of traction recently, and can be interpreted in several different ways. But in this context, we are talking about creating an ecosystem for sharing organisational capabilities, that enables small, autonomous teams to execute business ideas or conduct experiments at speed.

Platforms for Execution

Effective digital platforms are built on a foundation of tools and services, and platform assets must be aligned to a company’s organisational structure and business operating model. This alignment empowers teams to work autonomously, consuming each other’s capabilities in a self-service way without the need for centralised coordination. BBVA, a FinTech company based in Spain began their digital transformation back in 2014. They recognised the need to change their technology platform to connect it to a more modular and flexible infrastructure. This change was a key enabler for them to be able to solve very specific customer problems quickly.

For example, BBVA customers can now order a new bank card in 45 seconds online, and have it delivered to them within 24 hours, compared to the previous 5-day timeframe. A strong technical foundation is only one (albeit important) piece of this puzzle. If BBVA had not had the appropriate business model, and supporting processes in place, this functionality would never have made it out into the hands of their customers.

Platform as a Product

In examining the qualities that make an effective platform, we must first consider the platform internally as a product. A product needs to be compelling in order for customers to use or consume it, and an internal platform can be no different.

It is difficult to change people’s habits, so it is important to consider simplicity and usability when we design a platform, providing a convincing reason to use it over a previous solution, or an external service. We create this reason by ensuring that we remain customer-focused. If we listen to the voice of the customer, we can ensure that we build something that they actually need, instead of what we assume they might want. In the traditional enterprise, so much attention is placed on the concept of ‘re-use’, when, in reality, we should just start by building something that will be actually be used in the first place.   When we talk about the customer, it is too easy to focus on the end customer of our company’s product or services, without giving too much thought to our internal customers. This is a big (yet common) mistake. In order to allow our colleagues to service the end customer effectively, we must provide them with a solid supporting ecosystem to do so. Failure of adoption is common when intended users are unaware of the services available to them. Investment must be made in internal marketing, creating champions for new services and actively supporting users as they come on board to increase levels of engagement with the platform.

Platforms must be self-service

Our internal customers can often be found in separate silos, working on backlogs of work that are tightly coupled with those of other teams across the organisation. This is where the difficulty begins, as delivery teams try to coordinate the work that needs to be completed to execute change. In reality, each group needs to be able to work autonomously to be successful. Part of being autonomous is self-service. Putting manual infrastructure provisioning behind an API and calling it cloud won’t get the results we want to achieve, as we still rely on human intervention to complete the process. The time and manual coordination required in this instance becomes a barrier to achieving a task. To be truly self-service, the API must trigger an automatic, instantaneous response, and be consumable without the consumer ever having to ask for assistance. The concept of self-service is also applicable to our data assets. Organisational data must be safely open by default, and discoverable by all, to provide the most value to an organisation. If data is accessible and of a reliable high quality, it can be used to measure experiments, understand customer behaviours and to make decisions that allow us to pivot accordingly.

Platforms need to enable ecosystems.

Creating an effective internal platform requires the creation of a platform ecosystem consisting of both producers and consumers. By putting boundaries around the complexity of a system or business capability, instead of pushing that complexity to the consumer of services, we make it simple for new participants to get up and running quickly.

This helps to create a flourishing ecosystem because these consumers then become producers of data, which is the currency that flows through the system- making it more valuable to the whole organisation.

Macquarie Bank has a mature delivery capability, using agile techniques to meet customer needs quickly. In order to further boost and personalise their customer’s banking experience, they saw the need to build a new open online banking platform, giving customers more control over their banking data, as well as the power to securely manage how they decide to share it.

In creating the platform, they saw the value in using a variety of technologies, rather than a rigid adherence to one technical solution, as well as creating small, reusable services and making their data lake easily available to all. The flexibility of their resulting platform allows them to move from idea to new service at speed.

Where should you begin?

Start with your business strategy, mapping out the core business capabilities required to achieve it, as well as identifying where these capabilities are shared across the business. These can then become the basis of the services that you need to build out.

Providing strong leadership is an important part of setting your platform up for success. A leader must make it explicit to platform owners that the platform should be the key consideration in decision-making, and ensure that reward structures reflect this priority.REA has done this particularly well, creating an internal brand for their technical building blocks.

Components that receive the 'Colab' endorsement are useable by teams across the organisation. Empowering delivery teams allows decisions made on the ground to reflect the higher level strategy, supported by strong leaders who define and champion the platform vision.

Finally, your platform cannot be bought off the shelf. You can certainly buy parts of the platform; software tools and consulting, but that doesn’t address the mindset and change in operating model that a true platform for execution requires.

Done right, your platform is your most powerful asset, a competitive differentiator that sets up your organisation to respond to ever-changing customer needs and wants. This means that it must be tailored to the idiosyncrasies of your unique organisation to best service you, and your customers.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Adatree, Brother, Databricks, Nutanix & Rubrik
We round up all job appointments from May 20-26, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Customer experience
The importance of service level management to customer experience
Staffing shortages have impacted site reliability engineers in particular since they are under extreme pressure to ensure that digital assets perform at optimum levels 24/7.
Story image
DevOps
Deloitte expands cloud observability practice with Dynatrace
Deloitte is expanding its cloud observability practice, including DevOps principles, AI/ML, cloud complexity management and software engineering.
Story image
Contact Centre
Leveraging technology in contact centres to reduce attrition rates
Many organisations worldwide have accelerated DX to better respond to changing market drivers and business environments after the disruption of the pandemic.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Rackspace
Skills shortages hold orgs back from capitalising on cloud 2.0
Organisations are becoming more comfortable with sophisticated 'cloud 2.0' technologies, even as they confront difficulties in hiring and retaining IT talent.
Story image
DaaS
NetApp launches Spot PC, a new Desktop-as-a-Service solution
This is a new managed cloud DaaS solution with security, automation, observability and optimisation capabilities, designed for the needs of today.
Story image
Sustainability
SoftIron named global leader for efficient DC infrastructure solutions
SoftIron has been named a global leader for supplying energy-efficient data infrastructure solutions for core-to-edge data centers after an assessment by Earth Capital Ltd.
Story image
Cybersecurity
4/10 Australian SMEs fallen victim to cyber-attacks since pandemic
Almost four out of teb SMEs in Australia have fallen victim to cyber-attacks since the pandemic began, according to a new study.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Customer experience
Phone, internet complaints increase for first time in five quarters
Phone and internet complaints have increased for the first time in five quarters, according to a new telco report from the Ombudsman.
Story image
Microsoft
Elevation of Privilege the top 2021 Microsoft vulnerability
BeyondTrust has released its 2022 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report, finding that Elevation of Privilege is the top vulnerability category for the second consecutive year.
Story image
SaaS
MedCart achieves close to AUD$10 million in sales with help from Marketplacer tech
Australian health and medical start-up MedCart has achieved annual sales of close to AUD$10 million in less than 12 months, utilising Marketplacer marketplace technology to help achieve successful results.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Accenture - a collective security approach a driving factor for cyber resilience
With the approaching Davos World Economic Forum upon us, it is even more imperative to discuss the impact of cybersecurity on business operations leading into the future.
Story image
Phishing
MailGuard warns of new scam targeting Telstra customers
Telstra customers in Australia are being warned of a new scam involving "Unsuccessful Payment" messages.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Harnessing digital innovations to maximise loyalty programmes and improve CX
When it comes to the retail sector, merchants have never had access to so many different client touchpoints and data to understand their customers better.
Story image
SpaceX
Australian space tech startup secures SpaceX support
Space Machines Company has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner in carrying SMC's Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle to space next year.
Story image
Surveillance
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
VPN
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Digital wallets
Australians lead the way in digital payment use - report
Australian consumers are at the forefront of mobile wallet use and adoption of digital banking tools, abandoning cash and physical payment experiences.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft previews Power Platform website design offering
Microsoft has announced the preview of Power Pages, the fifth product in its Power Platform family, designed for low-code makers and professional developers.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Digital transformation increasing business complexities
A new survey suggests businesses must re-examine their digital transformation approach to better help employees adapt to change.
Story image
Training
Infosec unveils role-guided cybersecurity training roadmaps
Infosec Skills Roles maps hands-on training and certifications to the 12 most in-demand cybersecurity roles to maximise training efficiency.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Infosys
Consumer relationships with digital services continues to change
Two years of pandemic-induced reliance on technology for work has altered our relationship with digital apps and services, new research has found.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Identity and Access Management
The post-pandemic workforce requires secure IAM capabilities
HID Global discusses what identity and access management means for organisations in today's convoluted digital world.
Story image
GapMaps
GapMaps Live to improve brand decisions on physical locations
GapMaps has released its latest service GapMaps Live, giving more insights and features to help brands make better decisions about physical locations.
Story image
Kubernetes
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
NVIDIA
NVIDIA announces a spate of new innovations at Computex 2022
NVIDIA has announced its latest innovations in data center, robotics, content creation, and gaming in a virtual keynote address on the opening day of Computex 2022 in Taipei.
Story image
Transport
Third-party automotive apps bear significant privacy risks
Mobile applications for connected cars provide various features to make life easier for motorists, but they can also be a source of risk.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
APAC
Top data and tech challenges for APAC banks - report
InterSystems’ new report finds that 87% of A/NZ banks experience frustrations and concerns in using their data to drive decision-making.
Story image
Cybersecurity
What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program
It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack.
Story image
BYOD / Bring Your Own Device
How zero trust can lead the battle against ransomware
SecOps teams champion a zero trust strategy to support the fight against the escalating risk of cybercrime and help monitor threat actors across a network.
Story image
Informatica
Informatica, Oracle enter strategic global cloud partnership
Oracle named Informatica as a preferred partner for enterprise cloud data integration and data governance for data warehouse and lakehouse solutions on OCI. 
Story image
SaaS
The paradox of change, and how to get around it
The business decision to technologically transform should not come from an IT department but from the business itself.
Story image
Sustainability
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Symbio
Symbio consolidates TNZI business to support APAC expansion
Symbio has recently announced the consolidation of its international business (TNZI) under the Symbio brand to support its Asia Pacific expansion strategy.