While integration and interconnectedness may already be a familiar part of the digital transformation narrative, the digital mesh represents the next dimension in terms of connecting people, processes, things, and services, while advancing machine learning and transforming the user experience.
In essence, the digital mesh reflects the increasingly complex web that is woven as billions of pieces of data are aggregated and transmitted through voice, text, and video across a breadth of devices from tablets to wearable tech.
If the IoT has long been surmised as getting everyday objects to talk to each other, then here the basic premise is accelerated tenfold. Now devices are talking to each other, executing commands, passing information and orders through an even more substantial framework of APIs to blend the physical and virtual world and to boost interactivity in ways that can transform entire industries and ecosystems.
One of the most profound impacts is for the user. Once confined to the back-end architecture in the enterprise, the digital mesh is trickling out from the corporations to reach the customer directly through technologies spanning mobile, machine learning, and edge computing – leading to what has been coined the ambient user experience.
This describes the heightened synchronicity across the customer’s digital journey, which thanks to the heightened interconnectivity, becomes a seamless and consistent exchange as they flit from one device to another, between multiple environments and the physical and virtual world. Underpinned by real-time contextual information, transactions become more immersive, tailored, personalized, and one in which interaction with people, hospitals, shops, airports, trains, schools, and everything else can occur from one single app. All of which is fueled by a tighter network tied into a mesh of software, platform, infrastructure, and device endpoints.
One area where I anticipate traction is in the health sphere. Wearable sensors and devices which monitor our physiology, drive specific health-related goals and alert us to any specific problems, have become increasingly mainstream over the last few years, but things are about to go up a gear. We are on the cusp of experiencing a proliferation of sensors which will be seamlessly incorporated into all aspects of our lives, working cognitively while embedded in the mattresses we sleep on or in our car steering wheel to continually monitor our physical state and report the facts.
In a similar vein to how smart solutions have created the connected home by sharing a wealth of information from preferred temperatures to anticipating our favorite playlist, these sensors will communicate information on our health and the constant micro changes happening within our bodies every minute of the day. An intelligent personal assistant such as Google Now can then be primed to schedule doctor appointments based on the sensor data provided.
In short, it’s the kind of hyper-personalised ‘always on’ activity that will just happen in the background with information just appearing at the right time, place, context, and device. Therefore, this conveyor belt of content raises user expectations of continuous, seamless insight all in real time.
This poses some interesting challenges and questions from a delivery standpoint. Inevitably these vast opportunities are tempered by increased complexity, presented by a multi-layered and multi-device digital journey. As such it demands a rethink in terms of adopting new business models and processes able to cope with this increasingly connected and blended world.
Drawing and integrating information from a variety of sources, while ensuring stringent security controls requires an underlying architecture that is agile and ready to adapt in this increasingly fluid and fast space, with app services which combine performance and flexibility.
Deployable in the cloud environment, the mesh app and service architecture (MASA) accommodates the full spectrum of endpoints, accesses APIs at various levels and across multiple locations, pulling everything together in one easy-to-see bundle. By leveraging microservices, small, modular services organized around business capabilities and priorities, the speed and agility for making changes with less impact on existing infrastructure is accelerated further.
Crucially, this goes hand in hand with the adoption of a DevOps mindset to enable developers to create, publish, and consume APIs and their own integration development and operations to deliver capabilities faster and in line with business demands. It’s a tall order, but delivering the continuous digital experience is never going to be easy.