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The value of modeling for digital transformation

In business and IT domains, the perspective on the hickups of “modeling” – and modeling automation – over the past three decades teaches us a lot. The neverending technology innovation has had contrasted effects on the perceived value of modeling, and has clearly delineated the modeling-averse from the modeling savvy. The value of modeling surely bounces again with the digital imperative. How and why?

 

What modeling are we talking about?

In this post, you need to know that the “model” substantive means the representation of something. Modeling is the act of building this representation. It goes from a spoken or written word that represents what I am talking / writing about, to a drawing using graphical symbols, a painting, to a 2D model of a 3D object, etc. You get it.

Now, what can a service designer expect to be modeling-related in a customer journey mapping software? Or a product owner with a roadmapping or ideation management tool? I’d say nothing, except the act of drawing, seems to be somewhat modeling-related. I mean the modeling technique and skills are not supposed to be a painful prerequisite to successfully build the expected representation and deliver business value. All you need os to draw. It’s a matter of smartly hiding several levels of abstraction inside the tool.

 

Has modeling lost value over time?

Well, this value has moved in different places. Ask yourself what, in a UML-based system modeling tool should be modeling-related? Nearly everything. Same for BPMN process modeling or for any subject matter that relies on modeling standard (E.g. Archimate or DMN).

Also, remember what Mark McGregor wrote about modeling vs. mapping back in 2013, which obviously still applies: in substance Mark suggested that in certain contexts, speed and agility has immense value when using modeling software to fix business issues.

I would say that the value of modeling – computer-aided modeling – has not significantly changed for system modelers or process designers. Such roles greatly benefit from the way their tools not only comply with standards (UML, BPMN…), but also integrate their modeling skills into a productive value chain. But reversely It has changed dramatically over the past 5 to 8 years, for users of mapping tools who, consciously or not, build models with software tools that require drawing skills only. For them, the value of modeling lies in the extent to which software vendors successfully hide the complexity of modeling, to let them benefit from the business value they expect, directly in business terms.

 

Value in hiding complexity

Finally, certain software vendors add even more modeling value when they successfully apply modeling techniques – like combining a meta-model foundation to an agile approach – to build flexible software offerings more likely to meet and anticipate fast changing market needs.

Should you be curious as to why the Axellience software vendor belongs to the last category, just have a look at the customer journey mapping tool in their Business Transformer suite and let us know what you think. We’ll be delighted to chat.

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