Digitalisation is not only a commodity for service provisioning, but data are also seen as the future raw material for digital services. Hence, the merge of digital technology and service management to enable or support service creation and provisioning has to address the critical question of how to align business with IT. The digital transformation is both an opportunity and a challenge for organisations to adopt new digital services. Digital data have become a crucial asset, where the data market size is expected to increase by 36.9% from 2016 to 2020 to a value of 75.7 bn EUR in 2020. Every organisation is hence confronted with cyber security issues, legal and compliance regulations and costs for more complex IT-infrastructure as well as with a higher development speed, better flexibility and new opportunities that raise from digital business models.
The challenge for every organisation is therefore to identify those digital services that support making business and avoid those that raise risks like vendor lock-in, difficulties or do not pay off.
The EU project CloudSocket[i] is a 4 Mio Euro research project that is coordinated by the Austrian company BOC[ii] and has been funded by the European Commission under the Frame Programme Horizon 2020[iii], targets this challenge through the involvement and collaboration of experienced European research, technology and end user partners.
The German Business Incubator from Baden Württemberg (BWCON)[iv] supports about 600 SMEs and plans to help them in digitalising their business by hosting complete business processes in the cloud, whereas the Italian consulting company MATHEMA[v] supports the transformation processes of companies in the Tuscany region into the cloud.
Current cloud technology is a promising candidate to enable a flexible business and IT alignment, due to its flexibility and automation. However, the management of such flexible and automated IT, which aligns to business needs is quite complex as the business requirements must be translated through several layers – who are interconnected – to technical offerings.
Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) is seen as the appropriate instrument to map business needs into service interaction and complete, executable and deployable service-based workflows in the cloud, as well as enable the integration of software, data and infrastructure across several – even internal - clouds.
The technical companies provide new and adaptive solutions[vi]: The consulting and software company BOC offers extended business process management (ADONIS)[vii] and IT-Management tools (ADOIT)[viii] to support the transformation of traditional business processes into a digitalised form of the business processes deployed in the cloud. The Italian company FHOSTER[ix] provides a platform (LivebaseTM)[x] that supports the digitalisation of data, as well as supports the allocation of workflows in order to deploy the in the cloud. The Romanian company YMENS[xi] provides a marketplace that does not only offer Software as a Service but is also able the provide Business Processes as a Service. The Spanish company ATOS[xii] is the biggest IT company in Europe and provides a cross-cloud workflow engine as well as an Engine that is able to manage contracts -so called SLAs- between the involved service owners.
Those technical partners provide a strong impact by enhance their existing products, tools and approaches with innovation findings from the project to improve and hence better support European companies in their digitalisation approaches. The partners therefore demonstrated the potential support of each individual tool as well as the potential impact from a consolidated approach expressed in the CloudSocket Framework.
We propose a model-based approach to manage the business processes, hence to support the design, the analysis, the simulation, the export into an execution environment and finally the monitoring for evaluation purpose in order to assess the potential of the digitalisation.
Here we take into consideration the simple exchange of manual tasks with automated ones, the delegation of automated tasks to trusted third party services in the cloud or the whole outsourcing of the complete IT for the Business Process at hand into the cloud via a so-called Business Process as a Service.
After the analysis of the business processeswhich maps to the consideration of multiple realisation possibilities, the different cost models can be compared, showing the possible risks and costs per business process when delegating the operation of the IT into the cloud.
Legal restrictions, regulations, IT support and likelihood of risks and even the organisational structure could influence the decision making, if and how to use cloud offerings to improve the performance or the flexibility of business processes.
The research partners of the project provide smart technology – like semantic, conceptual and mathematical models - to support their decision making. The University of Applied Science of North West Switzerland (FHNW[xiii]) proposes a pragmatic approach to assess the cloud readiness, introduces smart computer programs to map business requests to cloud offerings and hence can propose which parts of the business process to migrate into the cloud. The German University of Ulm (UULM[xiv]) is a competence centre in cloud computing and investigates the upcoming need, to integrate several cloud initiatives to the so-called multi-cloud solutions. Such a multi-cloud orchestration solution has the benefits of consuming multiple cloud services from multiple/different clouds, thus avoiding vendor lock-in, as well as having the opportunity to improve the (technical) quality of the digitally transformed business process.
This is seen as one of the upcoming trends where one user consumes solutions from several providers that run in several clouds. The Greek Public Research Centre FORTH[xv] develops smart algorithms for service discovery and selection which take into account various types of end-user requirements as well as generates business intelligence solutions which support various kinds of BPaaS analysis like KPI evaluation & drill-down and can lead to the production of added-value knowledge that can improve the digitalised Business Processes.
The result of BPaaS-Consulting is an individual - business process specific - specification about expected potentials and opportunities but also risks and costs when digitalising parts or the whole business process as well as when delegating the IT support into the cloud. In addition, CloudSocket demonstrated how such business process can be realised in parts or as in whole and how they can be operated in a multi-cloud environment. All necessary tools are available to support either the selection of existing business processes in the Cloud or the generation of new business processes.
The European Project CloudSocket will finish by the end of 2017. Videos, Webinars, demonstrators, publicly available reports and first feedback from the two Brokers – one from Baden Württemberg (BWCON) and the other from the Region Tuscany (MATHEMA) –provide an insight about:
· how European companies may transform via digitalisation,
· how to identify risks and challenges for European companies,
· how to assess the costs and effort that is necessary in order to individualise IT support for companies andprovide specific solutions related to how to manage a certain BPaaS depending on the focus of the respective users,
· indicated the potential to create a new job-profile of a Broker who relies on business consultancies and cloud operation qualifications and
· how European Companies can answer the digitalisation wave that massively hits Europe.
We are happy to provide further information either personally, from the website or via email:
Dr. Robert Woitsch
++43-1-905 10 56
References and Web-Links
www.cloudsocket.eu funded by the EC