Talk about the cloud’s benefits with most businesses and you’ll quickly realize there’s a chasm between their reality and today’s hype. “Utilize this new service to scale faster!” “Leverage more microservices!” “Reduce your tech debt by migrating to the cloud!” These are true advantages, but for now, most are unattainable for these businesses. If I were to advocate for one goal with leveraging the cloud it would be the move to a modern, interoperable reference architecture.
Before I go further, let me point out that you’re closer to achieving this modern reference architecture than you realize. Like most businesses, you’re likely using some combination of modern cloud-based platforms. While these platforms’ core capabilities might help you to run and scale your business—they don’t in of themselves provide you a strategically competitive advantage (since your competitors all have access to the same services).
But these platforms provide you with another, often overlooked value, which is not only the freedom from infrastructure and the management of the operational overhead (scalability and reliability), but the ability to easily integrate with other best of breed services including both software as a service (SaaS) and microservice integrations. As these platforms’ customer growth expanded, so too did the number of third party providers developing value added capabilities on top of these platforms. Together, these smaller, more specialty services and their respective ecosystems of easily integrable solutions provide businesses a modern reference architecture.
If you adopt this architecture approach, the next time your head of sales suggests integrating a Magic Quadrant recognized software tool—you no longer have to weigh so heavily on a single vendor to provide their integrated stack; rather, you can look to see which combination of available services address the need and bring them together to curate the solution.
As CIOs, a primary focus for us is to enable our employees to be as productive as possible, seeking solutions that reduce change management. It’s important not to just replace tools with newer solutions but build an architecture that enables easy integrations for future development needs. Take Salesforce as an example: their sales teams spend hours manually updating leads’ profiles, even though there are tools that which sit on top of Salesforce that could provide these sales teams an improved user experience. These teams could use Tact.ai, which provides Salesforce users access to the data they need across channels through natural text, touch, and voice conversational interactions.
This approach also enables enterprises to transform entire business processes. Businesses traditionally purchase a packaged contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution that was on premise, monolithic, and costly to implement and manage. Alternatively, leveraging Box as the content hub provides businesses a platform to integrate a combination of modern services that offer an innovative and different approach to CLM:
- mxHero enables users to manage and store their emails in cloud easily
- LawGeeX uses machine learning and AI to automate the contract review process
- Ephesoft also use machine learning service for metadata and business intelligence extraction
- Docusign provides e-signature capability
- Box Relay assists in workflow processing
Combined, these services reduce the menial and repeatable work a business’ legal team needs to take within the larger process of managing and reviewing contracts. It also enables a business to leverage the constant innovation that is happening across Box’s ecosystems.
It’s incumbent upon CIOs to recognize emerging technologies that are addressing our business needs. To accomplish this, we need to consider the operational—online and offline—steps that occur along each step of a process to identify areas where there are inefficiencies. However, even when we identify these inefficiencies we’re often faced with the dilemma of weighing the resource costs of integrating these services against the perceived value the solution.
It’s this paradigm that can hold back our business. With a modern reference architecture, we are able to take advantage of both the cloud’s reduced infrastructure and operational demands while also integrating new interoperable services that improve upon our businesses’ efficiency and process. Like having your cake and eating it too, this modern architecture allows companies to be more flexible and efficient—all at a lower cost. It’s one cloud benefit that’s just too good to pass up.