A new study looking at the agile technology and architecture trends, practices and success factors in teams and organisation.
Underpinning much of the technological development is an agile digital architecture that is based on versatile, constantly changing and evolving software, that is flexible and has the capability to learn as it is being used.
The World Economic Forum report “Digital Transformation Initiative” estimates that digital transformation will add approximately $100 trillion to the global economy over the next 10 years. In terms of disruption per sector, the report estimates that just in the services sector the following sector segments will be disrupted to the greatest extent:
• Audit and accounting
• Technology and media consulting
• High-frequency high-volume search
• Consulting services of every type
• Executive search services
especially with recent developments in knowledge management architecture, machine learning, data analytics and visualisation, the Internet of things and, of course, artificial intelligence.
For example, last year (2018 ) the first data/research driven, wholly AI authored book was published by Springer. It is estimated that job losses in these and other sectors will reach into the millions.
Agile digital architecture
Underpinning much of the technological development is an agile digital architecture that is based on versatile, constantly changing and evolving software, that is flexible and has the capability to learn as it is being used. Secondly, agile technology architecture is derived from the iterative agile methodology that evolves over time, based on exposure to real life problems and issues .
The basic idea behind an agile architecture is that the technology and software is easily modified as the requirements of the users change and evolve, is tolerant of change and is designed in an iterative and incremental way that has user functionality as its primary goal .
…basic idea behind an agile architecture is that the technology and software is easily modified
Additionally, agile architecture refers to a complete ecosystem that combines development, production and use in a way that is:
• Adds new practices and realisations into the system as they develop
A new study
A new study has looked at the latest digital agile challenges, trends and practices.
Challenges on digital agile architecture
The study found that digital and technology providers face the following challenges:
- Balancing agility and structural architecture. This is an issue of continuity and change in the architecture
- Maintaining documentation and guides
- Scaling the technology
- Understanding the interdependence of components
- Understanding the relationships between requirements
- Managing optimisation, flow and processes
- Organising communications and coordination
- Involving and managing microservice provision
- Managing learning and knowledge management across teams and clients
- Keeping up with new business and management / leadership models and processes
Trends on digital agile architecture
A number of technology trends are becoming apparent which are having a significant impact on agile architecture and design:
- Integration – that new technologies and services need to be capable of connecting and integrating with other technologies and services .
- Emerging micro-services – there is a trend towards a host of small add-ons, apps and other niche and specialist technologies and services that enhance user functionality and technology customisation and flexibility .
- These emerging micro-services are a key part of the evolutionary and revolutionary development chain process for technologies, software, infrastructure and users alike.
- The digital architecture and technology is becoming increasingly invisible and integrated into users’ daily work, so that users don’t need to keep swapping systems and technologies. User interface design means that many technologies are now voice or behaviour activated and learn from the users’ behaviour and habits, increasing productivity through automation .
- There is a tension between adaptation and anticipation of user need. Whilst many agile software and technology development cycles are adaptive, there also needs to be significant levels of creativity, innovation and anticipation of need for next generation technologies, architecture and software.
- Speed – a significant trend in technology-based evolution and revolution has been the increase in the speed with which technologies adapt and respond to user requirements and needs. As a result, many new technologies and software are inherently adaptable to user preferences to some extent and have some level of learning capability as a built-in feature, which speeds up its evolution.
- Continuous monitoring – many new technologies and software are ‘connected to base’ so that the designers are getting real-time data on usage, issues and, to some extent, needs. Additionally, there is a growing trend in the ability of the designers to update the technology or software on-the-fly, and invisibly to the user. This has been found to enhance technology adaptation and learning.
Success factors on digital agile architecture
The study was able to identify ten success factors for digital agile architecture:
- Understanding the context the technology will be used in, as well as the design context.
- Understanding the role responsibilities and competencies of everyone in the development pipeline and how they relate to the development cycle.
- Understanding developments in agile.
- Applying lean practices and principles.
- Using continuous evolution principles.
- Knowing and using the architecture and its components and understanding how it evolves.
- Decomposition and granularity (also known as factoring). This is the ability to break complex problems or systems into small ‘chunks’ to make them easier to conceptualise, understand and deal with.
- Taking and evolutionary approach.
- Quality focus – continuous effort and prioritisation on quality.
- Using the tools in a coordinated way and treating the whole process as an ecosystem and applying systems thinking.
Practices on digital agile architecture
The study found that there are a series of agile practices that teams and organisations are using at the moment:
- Testing and automated testing
- Prototype and experimentation
- Incremental value delivery
- Lean thinking
- Refactoring and continuous refactoring
- Continuous architecting and the zipper model
- Revision of source code and code and sprint reviews
- Evaluation of architecture and design
- Multilevel teams/scrum of scrums
- Continuous integration
- Continuous learning
- Minimum viable architecture/walking skeleton
- Organising a team based on Convey’s law
- Architectural runway
- Architectural roadmap
- Deferring architectural and design decisions
- Minimum documentation/realised architecture documented source code
- Pair programming
- Common semantics/metaphor/common language
- Continuous delivery
- Client computing
- Minimum viable product/lean start-up/build measure learn
- Small, autonomous and dedicated teams/2 pizza teams
- Continuous flow of value end-to-end
- Resolving interdependencies
- Combined ecosystem/dev, build, test, operate, product tools and environment support
- Design principles
- Risk and cost-driven design
- Systems monitoring
- Kanban visualisation
- Use of micro-services
- Cloud-based services
- API and other connections
- API gateways
- Domain driven design/bandit context
- Independently deliverable micro-services
- Monitoring of micro-services
- Versioning of micro-services
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