Don’t Connect Yourself into a Digital Corner

Abstract futuristic - Molecules technology background. Illustration Vector design digital technology concept

As you may have noticed, we just finished TIBCO NOW last week in Las Vegas, and it was all about one topic: Digital Business. This was an event loaded with best practices about all kinds of digital business initiatives. There were 2,000 attendees with roughly 150 sessions given by TIBCO, partners, and customer experts. More than 50 customers attended, and we captured nearly 40 new testimonials by customers about their digital journeys and how they transformed . The keynotes from day 1 and day 2 are available here. You might also want to look at some of the TIBCO Trailblazer awards on YouTube. And you’re going to see much more soon.

One of the things that struck me about their stories were the journeys, and not just how they set themselves up to succeed. What was just as important was to understand the roadblocks and failures along the way. There were four key lessons and a checklist from all these stories that can help you avoid getting connected into a digital corner and having to take a step back and replace some of what you’ve already put in place.

The first lesson was about putting the right connectivity in place. These companies built an integration and API foundation to interconnect everything that enabled them to support new initiatives at the speed the business wanted. They were able deliver new capabilities across channels by consuming, building, integrating, and managing APIs. They did it in weeks, not months or years. Their architecture combined application integration and API management with all types of API protocols including messaging and in some cases real-time APIs such as Websockets with TIBCO eFTL. To track and respond to customer issues and opportunities, to have real-time responsiveness in a mobile app, and to support the Internet of Things (IoT), you need to be able to support real-time APIs.

The second lesson was about being cloud first, and being prepared to support ALL forms of cloud. Many of these companies made it a point to support all forms of cloud because that’s their reality. One group might go with an on-premise platform, another with managed services, a third with a Platform as a Service (PaaS) using Cloud Foundry or Docker, a fourth with an xPaaS (such as an iPaaS), a fifth might just use Software as a Service (SaaS). But all of these can deliver APIs, and all of these have to work together as part of one hybrid IT environment. There were some great stories by companies about the importance of using different combinations of TIBCO BusinessWorks 5 and 6 on premise, Cloud Foundry and Docker, and TIBCO Cloud Integration.

The third lesson was that no one tool fits all. You need to deliver the right tools to the right people, whether they’re in the core, corporate IT, or on the edge in the lines of business and beyond. What came out during several sessions is that part of the reason for supporting the different forms of cloud is to give the right tools to the right people across IT. Whether it was having TIBCO BusinessWorks Container Edition fitting into Cloud Foundry, Google Kubernetes, or another Docker-based PaaS; or having TIBCO Cloud Integration set up as a shared service, all were seen as the right tools for their target audience.

The fourth lesson depended on the first three lessons being learned to be successful. If you look at all the TIBCO Trailblazer stories and many of the stories at TIBCO NOW, they not only involve integration and API management, but also relied on a combination of dashboards, analytics, and streaming analytics to augment the intelligence behind the APIs. With Norfolk Southern it was real-time visibility across their connected railroad operations. With TUI Group it was all about revolutionizing the travel experience, and CargoSmart focused on monitoring and improving connected commercial shipping operations.

It turned out that several companies had to switch their integration infrastructure to be able to augment the intelligence of their business and get a big payoff from digital business. While they had started small, they had painted themselves into a digital corner and couldn’t adopt these technologies. A few customers had adopted Mulesoft in some edge projects, in addition to having TIBCO in their core IT group. As they grew, they re-evaluated and consolidated back to TIBCO.

Several companies avoided this by having the right checklist that helped them do an evaluation up front. Here were some of the core criteria they used:

  • Calculate the total cost of ownership: they put together a plan of the projects they would need for digital business initiatives, and they estimated the various costs involved, including licenses. TIBCO’s done a lot to help companies start small with TIBCO Cloud Integration for $500/month or TIBCO Application Integration as a suite, and grow over time. But software is typically about 10% of the total cost of ownership, as people and time to market are generally the largest costs.
  • Do a proof of concept (POC): while some vendors try to avoid a POC, it’s important to evaluate based on your short AND longer-term criteria to make sure that even if you start small, the integration and API management technology will not only meet your needs, but support business process management (BPM) and other technologies needed, including mobile, cloud, analytics, and streaming analytics.
  • Performance: make sure to evaluate performance needs. Digital companies have seen 4x annual growth in real-time data volumes. Try to get an estimate of the size you’ll need. One company grew their volumes 10x in a few years.

Hopefully you can learn from these stories. Make sure you don’t connect yourself into a digital corner by laying out your roadmap and evaluating what you need from the beginning.