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Persistent Systems Navigates New ‘Digital Engineering’ Zones

Persistent Systems Navigates New ‘Digital Engineering’ Zones

Technology evolves, constantly. But like all fluid entities, the inherent dynamism that we know exists in software development, always naturally coalesces and crystallizes into groups, pools and zones that see it take on a solid enough form to earn a name or label.

We are now using technology in a perpetually changing combination of ways that enables us to define some new spaces for IT to exist within. People don’t just use word processors, databases, statistical visualization tools and collaboration platforms to do what they used to do a quarter of a century ago; today we use these tools to perform and workflow tasks in a new kind of digital office, factory, field-location or home environment.

We can call these new environments ‘digital engineering zones’. They encapsulate some of our new work methods (and methodologies) today… and enabling them requires not just software engineering for so-called digital transformation, they require something in between and it’s a term that cloud transformation, enterprise modernization and product engineering services company Persistent Systems calls digital engineering.

Before we look at how we engineer our way to developing and creating in the new digital engineering zones, let’s question precisely what aspects of business and life Persistent is talking about.

This is an era where we don’t just talk about education, we also talk about online distance learning. We don’t just talk about commerce, we talk about this new notion of embedded finance - if you purchase a drink or meal and use the bar or restaurant’s own app to place your order and complete the transaction, the eaterie hasn’t suddenly gone into banking too, that’s embedded finance.

Continuing our thread here, cars have now evolved to become autonomous vehicles. Supply chains have become digital supply chains with real-time package delivery management, notifications and alerts. Contracts have become smart contracts i.e. contracts with automated controls to provide, stipulate, document, track and execute and the legally required steps and elements inside any given agreement.

Currency has, obviously, become digital currency. Healthcare has become telehealth and telemedicine with a side order of decentralized clinical trial management. More cerebrally perhaps, event attendance has become virtualized fan and attendee experiences.

Coming full circle then (and at a more fundamental level than any of these hopefully illustrative examples), IT itself has become software-defined (even physical networking and infrastructure technologies are now defined by a set of code, data and instructions rather than needing to exist as a stand-alone box in physical terms) and the software itself has become a service delivered via a subscription model in the new cloud paradigm of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

The above new precepts come from a Persistent Systems summary report entitled ‘Engineering for the Era of Digital Acceleration’ and they summarize a healthy chunk of the zones that technology is gravitating towards. So even if this list is not completely exhaustive, if these are the areas we need to build technology in, what tools do we use and what approach should we adopt?

According to Persistent Systems, “To be a leader in your industry, function or field, it’s essential to invest in comprehensive engineering expertise that combines traditional software and product know-how with broader business and emerging technologies acumen. Put another way, it’s essential to invest in holistic ‘digital engineering’ expertise and critical innovation capabilities, like design thinking.”

If we take software engineering on one side of the coin and (heaven forbid we actually use the term) digital transformation on the other, then - from Persistent’s perspective - the way forward is the engineering element from software engineering and the digital element from the transformation side.

Hence we get, digital engineering. But what kind of actual software tooling would we be talking about here?

As Persistent’s senior vice president for intelligent automation, Preetpal Singh, has explained here before, we are talking about an evolved set of software tools that extend beyond what might be called the first generation of Business Process Management (BPM) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) functions.

This is the cloud-based use of BPM and RPA, but it is combined with and accelerated by new advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and associated technologies including Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) into a new vortex of compute power. Singh calls that hyperautomation, a term borrowed from analyst house Gartner.

If we’re being purist about hyperautomation, we should note that the core definition specified here includes most if not all of what Persistent has noted as key enabling technologies, but with a few additions. Those other elements here include Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) i.e. technologies designed to help organizations integrate applications and data services from the cloud, in the cloud and with cloud acceleration advantages.

It also includes the use of low-code/no-code tools, packaged software as well as process and task automation tools.

Neither the analysts or Persistent pointed to Infrastruture-as-Code as explained here, but a) we could assume that be to implicit in the context of the story and b) in fairness, Persistent did table Everything (X)-as-a-Service (XaaS) at the start of this discussion.

To be able to execute upon any of these ideas and concepts in order to serve the new digital engineering zones that we have identified, we need to know how to navigate towards hyperautomation in the first place.

“[To successfully navigate in new digital engineering zones] establish a digital strategy that capitalizes on greater composability and the latest digital technologies while reimagining all experiences with the help of real-time data. Develop a cohesive enterprise architecture that provides the needed agility to actively respond to demands across customers, partners and competitors. Capitalize on the full potential of the cloud to reduce costs and accelerate innovation at scale – and reimagine, develop and modernize customer experience,” explained Persistent, in its engineering for digital acceleration paper.

The advice from Persistent is to look for areas where organizations can unlock new business models and revenue streams using digital tools. Although a statement like this can come across as overly generic, there is some specific advice within here, such as the need to harmonize data from inside and outside the organization while deploying advanced analytics.

In truth, Persistent Systems has said some of the same things that many cloud consultancy specialists talk about when they attempt to address the pressing issues in technology today. What the company has done is to coalesce and express the places where technology creates new digital engineering zones spaces and talk about how its services are capable of working (and delivering) in these still-emerging technology arenas.

In pure tech terms, a persistent system is one that retains its knowledge even when powered down… maybe they’re onto something?

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