Why it matters
A robust digital platform not only provides a foundation for organizational collaboration, but helps ensure that collaboration is quick, painless and effective, encouraging further teamwork and fostering a virtuous cycle of cooperation and positive outcomes.
“(A platform) helps accelerate the time to convert concept to cash, either with experimentation or getting consumer insights,” says ThoughtWorks Digital Platforms Practice Lead, Vinod Santhanam. “Importantly it also increases your overall system stability - and that leads to happier, more productive teams, and improves the developer experience.”
What prevents it
While technology can provide the bedrock, it’s also vital that senior management gives teams the space and impetus to collaborate on a digital platform, and makes it clear how doing so will contribute to business results. Failing to make this case, or adopting a ‘build it and they will come’ approach can result in collaboration that’s limited to the technical level.
“Wiring a whole lot of technology together with the hope that people will come and use it as it’s intended, so it’s not outcome, value or use case-driven; and just executing a bottom-up architectural initiative – those are the main failure modes for building platforms,” says ThoughtWorks Principal Consultant, Zhamak Dehghani.
How to make it happen
In addition to collaborative technology, the enterprise needs to be imbued with a sense of common purpose, where the focus on departmental responsibilities doesn’t cause teams to lose sight of the overarching goals - most of which will center on delivering value to customers, internal or external.
“Every team should be running as a product team,” says Ryan Murray, ThoughtWorks Director of Digital Platform Strategy. “Their product might be technology, but they’re looking to understand the internal customer’s goals and figure out how to make them successful. We see that mentality at (external) customer touchpoints, but really you need to bring it to every level of the organization.”
Key technology drivers
Cloud technology is the fundamental enabler of the platforms that support organizational collaboration. But cloud-based architecture should be seen as the infrastructure upon which various business capabilities can be created.
These capabilities (and the technologies they are based on) will vary depending on the business outcomes required, but will be broadly grouped into the platform focus areas we have outlined, providing actionable data, connection to customers or streamlining product or service development and delivery.
Together, even if initially associated with separate functions, platform capabilities become “great opportunities to accelerate time to market, bake in security and enable repeatability for the rest of the organization,” Murray notes.