Flexibility will dominate in an era of information growth at hyperspeed.
In 1900, human knowledge doubled at the rate of once every 100 years. By 1945, that knowledge curve had compressed to doubling every 25 years, and by 1982, it took just over one year to duplicate the world’s information. In 2020, experts estimated we passed the point when human knowledge began doubling every 12 hours. This astonishing rate of change has significant implications for the workplace.
When information grows at a hyper pace, our lives must be dominated by a flexible mindset that allows us to embrace change as a defining theme. At work, this flexibility emerges in the form of constant learning, evolving job descriptions, and the need to implement and use new technologies at a rapid pace. This flexible office can become overwhelming to both employees and companies like yours that sell office technologies. You need to constantly update your product lineup to meet tomorrow’s needs that we can’t even clearly define yet today. How can you possibly keep up?
A new software architecture is emerging that can help your organization to stay on top of the latest technology trends while avoiding long delays in new vendor and product evaluations. You’ll be able to meet more needs with fewer vendor partnerships and more flexible product offerings through the trend of microservices-based product design. Let’s take a look at this trend and an example of how it will empower your customers to embrace information growth at hyper speed.
What are microservices?
This trend is so new that it’s still being called by different terms depending on who you’re talking to. For example, Gartner calls it composable, Deloitte says flexible consumption, and Forrester favors consumption-as-a-service, while most software developers use microservices. What is it?
Microservices describes a software design architecture that is used by developers to streamline product creation. Essentially, a development team builds small bits of code that can be reused and recombined to produce a wide variety of products. It’s beneficial to the development company because new high-quality products can be composed of trusted and tested components, bringing them to market much more quickly. Microservices-based architectures benefit customers because they have access to technologies that help even as their needs evolve in response to rapid changes in their business and marketplace.
The benefit to customers goes beyond faster access to the latest tech tools, however. A microservices-based architecture also enables manufacturers to change the way they package and sell their products. Instead of buying expensive software licenses that necessitate paying for lots of unused features in order to get access to the handful the company actually needs, these new flexible products allow buyers to access and use a variety of smaller feature bundles (known as Packaged Business Components or PBCs) directly in response to what they need at the time. The entire library of product capabilities is always on, available to be used at any time.
What is microtransactions-based billing?
This shift in software architectures gets really exciting for customers when coupled with a microtransactions-based billing model. This idea may be familiar to you from the gaming industry, where players can choose to access special tools, powers, or opportunities for small, incremental fees throughout the game experience. Given that customers prefer choice when it comes to consumption, and their familiarity with usage-based billing, the flexibility, and affordability of these products is likely
to dominate technology purchases in the office of the future.
In a microservices, microtransactions-based billing world, companies will pay only for the capabilities they actually used based on how much they used them. Each billing period, a company will have a different “composable” product that directly reflects their unique business strategies for that time period. Further, microtransactions-based billing means their cost matches consumption and usage, so if they only need a small amount of a capability, they’ll pay less than a company that uses that function all the time. Bean counters rejoice! With microtransactions-based billing, businesses can finally smart-size tech spending to exactly reflect what they really used.
How will it really work?
Many companies in our industry have added robotic process automation (RPA) to their product lineups over the last few years in order to help businesses that are in a hurry to automate every process they can. Let’s dig into an example of how a microservices and microtransactions-based product changes the user experience for RPA.
Let’s assume the company has a fairly typical RPA project. They want to look up thousands of items in a giant spreadsheet, match them to information in a database, and use the database to add new information to the spreadsheet. In total, their project will take 720 hours (one month, assuming work continues 24 hours a day).
If the company chooses to pay a person to complete the work, we can assume they’ll pay about $27.50 per hour, based on an average US worker annual salary of $57,200 (as reported by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics). At this rate, the project will cost about $20,000. But, we all know humans don’t work 24 hours daily or on weekends, and we make mistakes. So, the company will wait more than four months for the project to be completed, and they’ll have lower quality results.
Traditional RPA products are billed based on a user license or bot. To complete this project, most companies will buy a license for one bot. Since the bot doesn’t need breaks and can work 24 hours daily, the project will be completed in one month. Traditional RPA usually offers a significant savings over a human worker, but the license then sits on a shelf while continuing to incur maintenance costs. Despite paying for it, the bot may never be used again.
In a microtransactions-based product, the customer is billed based on the number of hours the RPA product is in use rather than the number of bots they turn on. If they choose to line up a bunch of servers to complete the work, they can, because no bot-based license is involved. This means they’ll pay the same price whether they use one system and one month to complete the project or many systems to complete the work in a fraction of the time. In addition, microservices-based RPA gets billed at a fraction of a dollar per hour, resulting in significant savings over the bot-based license that is more traditional. Best of all, once the project is over, the company does not incur additional fees to maintain its access to RPA, and it can instantly “turn on” the capability again at any time to meet future needs.
What should you be doing now to prepare?
Thanks to the appeal of buying technology this way, the change to a microservices-based architecture will become widespread over the next decade as software manufacturers convert their products. Much like the move to cloud services, you’ll need to adjust your product lineup, and those who move quickly into this trend will reap the biggest benefit. Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Learn about this emerging trend and stay current as it evolves.
2. Recognize and prepare for a more variable revenue stream, where each customer’s payment changes based on their tech needs during the billing period. Evaluate your overall cash flow and prepare to flexibly accommodate this variability.
3. Put your sales and support personnel to work really getting to know your customers’ businesses, so they’re prepared to advise them on rapidly changing technology needs.
4. Position yourself as a partner in your customers’ cost-reduction efforts by marketing the value of the partnership you create with them to smart-size tech spending with microservices and microtransactions-based billing.
As humans adapt to a pace of knowledge growth and change inconceivable a hundred years ago, we need businesses and technologies that can match our evolution. Microservices architectures result in flexible products that can adapt immediately to reflect rapidly changing business strategies, and microtransactions-based billing furthers the benefit by aligning technology spending with technology use in a way never before possible. The office of the future is exciting, and you will play a critical role in helping businesses succeed.
Christina Robbins is Vice President of Communication Strategy and Marketing at Digitech Systems LLC, one of the most trusted choices for intelligent information management and business process automation worldwide. Celebrated by industry analysts and insiders as the best enterprise content management and workflow solutions on the market, Digitech Systems has an unsurpassed legacy of accelerating business performance by streamlining digital processes for organizations of any size. For more information visit www.digitechsystems.com.