Why platform-based business is a winning model
Today, rapid technology advancement, coupled with regulatory compliance and growing competitors are disrupting organisations’ operations models. The telecoms industry is no exception, with a wave of market disruption that is challenging its sustainability at the same time as opening up new opportunities in unexplored areas, write Dr. Anil Paingankar, a distinguished architect and international board member of The Open Group, and Viswanathan Ramaswamy, a vice president of Wipro.
At present most enterprises operate on a pipeline based business model. This model creates value by controlling a linear series of activities, normally value created upstream and delivered downstream. This business model however does not address today’s VULCA (volatile, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world. Therefore a platform based business model is seen as an effective way to address today’s dynamic market. This model is based on the facilitation of value-exchanges between consumer and producer who are made up of two or more interdependent groups or entities. It guarantees that businesses are benefiting the most when they enter into the pipeline of based firm’s market.
Enablers of a platform-based business model
TM Forum’s communication industry standards provide a reference to the platform based business model. The platform-based architecture approach adopts principles of microservices and open application programme interfaces (APIs) as the enablers for platform based business models.
Several communication service providers (CSPs) such as AT&T, BT, CenturyLink, Telefonica and many others have publicly announced their strategy to go with microservices architecture to support their business. In a recent statement by Melissa Arnoldi, AT&T’s president of Technology and Operations she commented that the company is looking to break the 2,200+ apps in their IT system into microservices to create agility, speed and scalability.
Microservice architecture provides flexibility, agility at scale and performance, autonomous, independent and modular approach, all necessary features for platform-based architecture.
Microservices architecture requires a matured governance and management process. It is therefore very important to accurately assess the current maturity level of the organisation. To adopt open API/microservices architecture there must be a compelling business need with well-defined drivers and technology support systems. Microservices architecture must not be looked at as a replacement to service-oriented architecture (SOA) with focus only from the technology perspective but as part of a business transformation.
Building business platform modules
Platform-based architecture will be built taking into consideration the organisational capabilities of each organisation to build a highly cohesive and specialised services.
In addition, these services can be consumed within the organisation and by external entities, such as partners, suppliers or dealers as well as by cross-industry collaborators. The platform will help organisations achieve excellence in all the associated business value metrics like revenue and margin, customer experience and operational efficiency.
TM Forum provides three main recommended reference architectures to be taken into consideration when looking at implementing the platform based business capability:
- Digital Ecosystem Reference Architecture (DERA) for developing digital business ecosystem linked to the business context. Each context will provide associated APIs/services that will be exposed for internal/external consumption to the organisation, data/information (context based), people skills and competency as well as the processes that will execute the defined business objectives.
- Digital Services Reference Architecture (DSRA) for design, implementation and run-time of the Open API/microservices, and data/information that forms the business context. This also defines the overall lifecycle of API associated to the business ecosystem derived from DERA.
- Digital Platform Reference Architecture (DPRA) will be used to build the underlying API management platform. The main objective here is to provide the guidelines on how the platform should assemble, enrich and expose the underlying managed service component such as an API.
It is important to follow a structured approach with proven methodology to achieve successful transformation of an enterprise to a platform based business model. All services/API that form the operational capability must be derived from and mapped to business architecture, enterprise architecture and associated enterprise models.