Elasticity has become a much-used term for cloud / technology infrastructures, as well as for business strategy and performance. Just like ‘agile’, ‘disruptive’ and ‘innovative’, elasticity has real meaning and depth, while becoming yet another object of hype. The notion of the elastic enterprise is a good one, particularly given the bumps and twists that companies experience with continuous economic and market changes, good and bad.
I prefer the term ‘responsive enterprise’ – simply because organizations effect important change through purposeful decision processes, not through automatic stretching. Responsive also reflects the need to consider all relevant variables and inputs for each situation, where each situation can be quite different from the previous ones – and where inputs include human experience and even intuition.
Elastic is a significant direction for infrastructure technologies such as cloud platforms and data management processes. With the elastic enterprise as an important outcome of effective business models, it’s essential to have a variety of technologies to support elasticity within the enterprise, to meet business requirements and objectives.
Haydn Shaughnessy, co-author of The Elastic Enterprise, comments on the need for transformation rather than innovation to become organizations that can respond well to change and risk (danger and opportunities):
What we’re saying…is that the organisations that are truly forging ahead have discovered a new way to allocate and orchestrate resources. This is a structural change in the way enterprises operate. The five new pillars are:
- Business platforms – rules and technologies for highly scaled interactions
- Business ecosystems – the flow of relationships that are created in a quasi-anonymous way, again at scale
- Universal connectors – technologies like APIs and RSS that enable relationships to build at very low cost and very low friction
- Cloud computing and infrastructure – from where companies can select the building blocks of new enterprises and ventures at very low risk
- And sapient leadership, a term we use to denote people who can orchestrate the bedazzling set of interactions that grows around successful platforms and ecosystems.
All these pillars come together in enterprises that break the mold – and buck the trend.
(and become responsive enterprises that meet constant change head on)
So for today’s digital enterprise — web, cloud, mobile, anytime anywhere access for anything — all demand a standards-based elastic infrastructure. Crisscrossing this enterprise are business processes and data that have to function agilely without the friction of silos and disconnected systems, whether in the cloud or on premises.
For the vast majority of companies, data and information are critical to running the business to achieve successful outcomes. Many enterprises have started to leverage data assets for significant transformations of their businesses. Many will directly monetize enterprise data; many will use data assets as the basis to derive new business models, new products, new markets.
But to attain great objectives through enterprise data, organizations have to find all that data, ensure data quality and reliability, figure out what data sources are needed for different purposes. Organizations want to agilely and seamlessly move data across the enterprise no matter where it originates. Data management processes need to be elastic to transform and integrate data from highly disparate sources to meet all demands for what data can offer.
Elasticity, both as a business paradigm and an infrastructure, enables organizations to tap into dynamic business models, decision-making processes and technology mechanisms to strengthen responsiveness to any situation, inside the enterprise and out. To empower enterprise elasticity, organizations have to be dedicated to continually improving data gathering, analytics, business processes and the connections between people to have what is needed in time – or even before it’s actually needed.