When writing this article and during my daily work I often have the challenge to communicate and explain different topics. Sometimes it is challenging to explain low-level technical aspects to high-level managers. This article is an attempt, and I will bounce in wordings and argumentation between technology language and business language. It is a thin line between explaining something and a bare listing of buzzwords. For this reason, I will define some expressions with respect to my point of view.

Precise terminology is key: Business level

“In the age of digital transformation, a significant change within enterprise IT Infrastructure will take place: Microservices will play a significant role in serving the customer.”

Digital transformation describes all enterprise activities that follow the goal to leverage customer value by utilizing data in a prioritized way. This concise definition shows already the complexity behind the expression of digital transformation. Sooner or later it covers all the activities of our daily work, at least every task which generates data or consumes data.

An enterprise is defined as:

  • any type of human endeavor involving people,
  • with the purpose to serve a customer,
  • where various kinds of platforms support each activity.

The customer value describes the heart of an enterprise objective while delivering the value is often done via services and products affecting humans and their environment.

The term data covers all digitalized information, mostly managed via IT infrastructure appropriately.

Figure 1: Microservices and Value Chain Services

Covering the details: Technology Level

“Microservices will play a significant role in the restructuring of the overall IT architecture.”

From a technology perspective, digital transformation is the path towards data-centric decision making resulting in data-centric value delivery. Within the endeavor of a digital transformation, a significant change within enterprise IT Infrastructure will take place.

The change will have benefits for developers as well for the organization as well. The significant change is the grouping around services instead of libraries.

A service has a link to a customer need, while a (software) library is typically defined as a collection of functional (software) packages made generally available.

Bringing both worlds together

However, a (micro-)service should fulfill a customer need (internal or external) and its design is managed and owned by joint development and operation teams with a strong link to business units. The business units have to review their value regularly.

Here, we can see the link to organization design and the consequences behind. The technical terminology is often linked to the DevOps movements – from high-level management it is the question of organizational design and who is responsible to build and manage a (digital) customer service. It is all about purpose / value grouping instead of identical skill / functional grouping.

In summary, when discussing (technical) artifacts with practitioners or top managers only the terminology changes, the purpose should remain the same. Delivering value to customer’s needs, independent of internal or external customers, respectively.

We would like to thank Frank Kienle for his valuable contribution to this article.

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