Today, most large enterprises have embraced the idea of connected applications. Through reusable components and cloud-first modular architectures, increasingly intelligent applications are unlocking new value from data, improving business agility and harnessing technology innovation. These applications lie at the heart of successful responses to digital disruption and are allowing businesses to create new models based on new kinds of businesses, besides partner and customer interactions.

The evolution of apps

What’s becoming clear only now, however, is that all these great advances are by no means the end of enterprise applications’ evolution. Indeed, connected applications are proving to be a stepping stone on the path to much more comprehensive transformation.

As applications, data and infrastructure become increasingly interconnected, leading companies are beginning to re-imagine their IT (information technology) stacks. The conventional IT stack is over—it’s now all about boundary-less systems of complex machine, employee, consumer, partner and competitor interconnections.

The physical and virtual boundaries of these businesses are increasingly hard to pin down. At any moment the enterprise re-configures around new systems, capabilities, partners, projects, products or services to deliver against business goals. These enterprises are shape-shifters, ideally suited to reacting to disruption and optimizing every business opportunity. At any given moment, they’re operating at their very best.

Building boundary-less systems

Modern platforms are already breaking down barriers and enabling companies to connect best-of-breed services to meet specific needs and solve complex problems. These provide businesses with the building blocks of tomorrow’s enterprise—one which will be exponentially more dynamic and innovative than those of the past.

So, how can you remove limits and build your business around emerging boundary-less systems? We believe there are three key steps to take:

Step up your cloud game: Cloud computing is a necessary underpinning to boundary-less systems. However, you shouldn’t view cloud as an end point: Deploying the cloud is an ongoing journey and source of continuous innovation. Thanks to the countless new possibilities that a blend of cloud services and edge computing opens up, embracing cloud is a crucial first step in capturing the value of boundary-less systems.

Embrace disruption through flexibility: With continual disruption a fact of modern business, static technology investments are limited in their ability to deliver value. What’s cutting edge one day will be old hat the next, so you need to ensure your business is able to adapt rapidly time and again.

By applying a uniform approach to data, security, and governance, you can build interoperable systems that are flexible by design. Standards and uniformity of design will help you ride the waves of disruption and insulate against future change.

Unravel your IT stack: By taking a modular approach and decoupling infrastructure, data, architecture and applications, you can remove unnecessary dependencies across all layers of the solution stack. The idea is to build a series of modular components that can be continually reassembled to meet business needs as they arise. The importance of this step can’t be overstated: It frees value locked in legacy systems and provides a critical bridge between core and new digital systems, thereby enabling innovation at scale. For a true boundary-less system, you will need to decouple data and applications, applications from legacy systems, and all tightly integrated systems.

The boundary-less systems emerging today enable a level of agility and dynamism that’s truly breath-taking. The monolithic IT stacks of the past are being replaced by endlessly reconfigurable modules that are seemingly limitless as they emerge, underpin new partnerships and find new business models.

As these become obsolete, the modules are broken down and reused elsewhere. To my mind, boundary-less systems are the single best solution yet to our age of disruption and, one that I believe, the business leaders tomorrow will be built on.

Bhaskar Ghosh is group chief executive officer at Accenture Technology Services

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