What does IT do? Historically IT built and deployed complex technological solutions to business problems - developing programs or leveraging existing ones to support and augment business processes and initiatives. Waterfall methodology meant a significant up-front investment in requirements gathering and solutioning, as well as a robust development and testing cycle. Resources were committed to projects and embroiled in detail work as the solution came to light, gradually teasing out the end state in a holistic and rigorous way.
Agile disrupted this - focusing instead on breaking systems into pieces and developing viable solutions to one element at a time - risking some loss of overarching vision and interconnectivity that waterfall allowed for in exchange for rapid and dynamic delivery - keeping a faster pace, embracing micro failures to help mitigate program-level failure, and adapting to changes along the way.
Now we find ourselves at a new juncture point where the cloud increasingly delivers dynamic, adaptable, business-deployable solutions. Tools like Zaipier and Microsoft Flow enable less technical resources to rapidly design and deploy business solutions without needing to engage IT departments. Robust and largely automated business solutions are at the fingertips of the ‘citizen developer’, a long promised but only recently viable role. I have recently found myself immersed in this space; leveraging easy to use cloud-based tools to deliver robust business solutions that would have required custom coding and well maintained infrastructure in the past. In the past year I have embraced the potential of such platforms to deliver business value in a fraction of the time with a fraction of the complexity - solutions that are easily transferable due to their simplistic and transparent nature. No longer do you need to review hundreds of lines of code to puzzle out how a system works – you need only walk through a hierarchical and easy to follow workflow that anyone with a lick of technical competency can make sense of, troubleshoot, and adjust on the fly. Why wait on the availability of a specialized developer when an intern can build a functional solution in just a few hours?
So what does this mean for IT? What does this mean for Blockchain?
For IT it means (at least in part) a transition from hard technical skills to a role of support and enablement - shifting from designing, building, testing, and deploying solutions solution to supporting the business through their journey and guiding them with experience and best practice - ensuring sufficient security, redundancy, resiliency, scalability, and so on are considered and integrated into business-driven solutions.
For Blockchain it provides an opportunity to compliment this new model with seamlessly integrated services. Few businesses have an interest in hosting a node or maintaining wallets; the emphasis is on delivering value with as few barriers as possible. A public blockchain with drag-and-drop integration in business solution platforms becomes available for casual adoption. Rather than targeting the complex custom solutions of today, consider the nimble and dynamic platforms of tomorrow.
Mijin was exciting – business are unlikely to adopt a public blockchain for their inner workings at an enterprise scale, and it presented a solution hand-in-hand with the opportunity to leverage the public blockchain where appropriate. The challenge is convincing business to adopt and implement it as an enterprise platform.
So how do we deliver on NEM’s potential? Target smaller fish – the Business Analyst with no clue how an API works, but an interest in block chain and a business problem in need of solving. How do we enable them without the burden of server infrastructure and development resources? Target the easy-to-use SAAS workflow automation platforms. Offer vendors voluntary support for building NEM and Mijin API integrations into their platforms, publish step by step guides on their forums detailing how to build such integrations manually. Provide example use cases and relevant context.
The cloud is slowly transforming IT , and blockchain is nothing if not the forefront of cloud infrastructure. Stop trying to interface with legacy frameworks and and open the door for dead simple solutions leveraging this technology. It shouldn’t take a developer nor a local wallet nor a local enthusiast notarize something with Apostle, it should be as easy as looking up a Notary Public on google and walking into their office. Remove barriers, enable solution designers, and target those who serve as bridges between business and technology.