Facing tomorrow: why you need to future-proof your business, today
By Gareth Hutchins, Director, Solutions Architecture at OpenText
There is a lesson to be learned for businesses in today’s shifting market: those who fail to distinguish the past from the future will be left behind.
While the ability to prepare for the future has always been an important business topic, particularly in the tech world, the conversation has always been weighted heavily in favour of the why. With things changing as quickly and continuously as they are, businesses now need clarity on the how of future-proofing.
Learning from the mistakes and successes of the past is obviously crucial, but I’d argue that now an even greater imperative is to grasp the meaning of current sentiments and understand them so that we may shape them for the future.
There is an end-user imperative here sitting alongside the financial one. Consumers, of course, would like their technology hardware and software to stand the test of time, while employees in organizations would prefer not to have to re-train themselves on new software every couple of years. Simultaneously, ripping and replacing technology when it becomes outdated can quickly become costly for the business as a whole.
So, how can businesses break from the past and face tomorrow with confidence?
What is future-proofing?
Let’s start with a definition: future-proofing, in business, is the act of preparing systems and people for – you guessed it – the future. But I’d like to be a bit more specific: in the digital age, it means ensuring that enterprise software is in place to help you stay in sync with users, buyers and customers at the same time.
Being future-proofed means that business leaders need a granular understanding of the use cases and purpose of software investments. That includes how they are used today but also how the use cases evolves in line with consumer preferences and shifts in the market. Once you have that understanding in place, you can weave the ability to innovate continuously into the fabric of the organization.
Evidence of the success of this approach is all around us. Think of the automatic updates pushed to our smartphones which (in theory) keep security up to date and fix bugs. Or on a broader scale, the shift in working practices accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw businesses leverage remote working tools and cloud environments to pivot on a pinhead and remain competitive.
How to future-proof successfully
If we think of yesterday in the same terms as we do tomorrow, we’ll struggle to move forward with any kind of control. In order to future-proof successfully, business leaders must gain a deeper understanding of the software underpinning their IT systems, gaining clear sight of the problems those solutions are solving and how they might need to change in the future.
Practically speaking, this means enterprise technology must be composable, with interchangeable components that can be changed or upgraded without a negative overall impact on the system itself.
Composability allows for an iterative approach to modernization, and when you combine this with extensible, open architecture, you get agility, scalability, security and ongoing optimization all at the same time. These characteristics are key to standing an organization in good stead to navigate whatever the market – or, indeed, the world at large – can throw at it.
These are a couple of steps you can start taking today to future-proof your business:
- Continuous release cycles that push new innovations to customers on an ongoing basis
- Building fully scalable and composable platforms to improve and augment front- and back-end tech stacks – optimizing both the employee and the customer experience.
Bringing these two tactics together delivers what I like to call total experience (TX). TX is a way of creating better experiences for everyone by thinking holistically about the employee, user and customer experiences, and deploying technology and processes across multiple touchpoints to accelerate growth.
The advantages of a future-proofed business
TX is a crucial approach to what we’re talking about here. It helps to improve overall understanding of organizational purpose and process, at the same time as improving the lifespan of enterprise software. The ultimate benefits of this are lower costs and higher customer or end-user satisfaction. It’s a net positive to the company’s bottom line but it also helps to augment employee retention by improving satisfaction.
When it comes to consumers, the future-proofed business can continuously deliver a best-in-class experience that adapts to changing preferences and marker realities. At the same time, this kind of continuous optimization will by nature improve an organization’s security posture, a vital goal as data security continues to be subject to heavy regulation.
With the right tools, and the best approach to deploying them, organizations can face tomorrow knowing they’re prepared for whatever comes next.