Gridlocked OSS cityscapes

Nine in ten businesses (87 percent) face severe turbulence as they pursue digital transformation, according to research from Bizagi, a provider of digital process automation software.
The global study of over 1,000 IT and customer experience professionals finds that businesses are rapidly embracing digital transformation, with 73 percent believing that failure to keep up will result in commercial downfall. However, the speed of change required, coupled with the complexity of the challenge, is leading the vast majority of large businesses into technological ‘traffic jams’, according to Bizagi.
However, three quarters of the respondents believe that the pace of change is increasing due to disruptive businesses challenging the status quo, with the vast majority (82 percent) understanding they must accelerate the pace of transformation to keep up in their industry
Sarah Wray
at TM Forum Inform.

Contrast and compare these challenges with the words of Michael Docherty in this article on, “Gone are the days when incremental core business innovation was enough to drive business growth. Core business innovation is now what it takes to simply stay in the game.” The whole concept of “New and Improved” is expected and is what it takes just to stay in business today. If you don’t make these small innovative changes, you are likely to go out of business. Simply put, incremental innovation helps you survive, not thrive.”

Transformation doesn’t appear to be a very reliable path to success as Sarah rightly points out. But to use a word that is more aligned to sustainability, perhaps we need to think of Digital Regeneration instead.

Rather than building systems that are “too big to fail” (and are therefore too big to replace) we need an approach that allows for continual replacement and reinvention.

A great city evolves by having its area broken up into many parcels of land, where old buildings are torn down to be replaced by newer ones that better suit the city’s changing needs (hopefully). The rest of the city continues to operate (relatively) uninterrupted around the regeneration works. That’s partly because it’s modularised, but more so because the “connectivity” is all standardised – sewerage, water, electricity, roads, railways, etc. These utilities all run on a standard “gauge” and the new building just needs to plug into these grids.

For those of you who use WordPress, you’d be familiar with the concept of adding the plugins / themes that are useful to you into the WordPress framework.

The current OSS model is more akin to having a city with only a few very large parcels, so when the building on any one parcel reaches the end of its useful life, its replacement causes chaos to all the inhabitants and “connectivity” needs to be custom-designed each time.

At the moment, we have the concepts to support a more modular solution in the form of TM Forum’s flagship Frameworx tools and OpenAPI models (APIs appear to be the key to the small-grid model). However we don’t really have a small-grid OSS ecosystem that allows many contributors to bolt their niche tools into something bigger. We only have large-grid models where the big vendors supply the behemoth systems that are too big to replace, which in turn is preventing many OSS customers from having the nimble support platforms their organisations need.

And who ever heard of a subtraction project in OSS? You can’t have regeneration without demolition right?

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