Digital Transformation with the Node.js Stack

Written by: Gergely Nemeth

This article was originally published on RisingStack's blog by Gergely Nemeth. With their kind permission, we’re sharing it here for Codeship readers.

In this article, we explore the nine main areas of digital transformation and show what the benefits are of implementing Node.js. At the end, we’ll lay out a Digital Transformation Roadmap to help you get started with this process.

Digital transformation is achieved by using modern technology to radically improve the performance of business processes, applications, or even whole enterprises.

Note that implementing Node.js is not the goal of a digital transformation project -- it's just a great tool that opens up possibilities any organization can take advantage of, such as:

  • Increased developer productivity

  • DevOps or NoOps practices

  • Shipping software to production in brief time using the proxy approach

Just to mention a few.

The 9 Areas of Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation projects can improve a company in nine main areas. The following elements were identified as a result of MIT research on digital transformation, where they interviewed 157 executives from 50 companies (typically $1 billion or more in annual sales).

1 - Understanding your customers better

Companies are heavily investing in systems to understand specific market segments and geographies better. They have to figure out what leads to customer happiness and customer dissatisfaction.

Many enterprises are building analytics capabilities to better understand their customers. Information derived this way can be used for data-driven decisions.

2 - Achieving top-line growth

Digital transformation can also be used to enhance in-person sales conversations. Instead of paper-based presentations or slides, salespeople can use great-looking, interactive presentations, like tablet-based presentations.

Understanding customers better helps enterprises to transform and improve the sales experience with more personalized sales and customer service.

3 - Building better customer touch pPoints

Customer service can be improved tremendously with new digital services, for example, by introducing new channels for communication. Instead of going to a local branch of a business, customers can talk to support through Twitter or Facebook.

Self-service digital tools can be developed that both save time for the customer while saving money for the company.

4 - Process digitization

With automation, companies can focus their employees on more strategic tasks, innovation, or creativity rather than repetitive efforts.

5 - Worker enablement

Virtualization of individual work (the work process is separated from the location of work) have become enablers for knowledge sharing. Information and expertise is accessible in real time for frontline employees.

6 - Data-driven performance management

With the proper analytical capabilities, decisions can be made on real data and not on assumptions.

Digital transformation is changing the way strategic decisions are made. With new tools, strategic planning sessions can include more stakeholders, not just a small group.

7 - Digitally extended businesses

Many companies extend their physical offerings with digital ones. Examples include:

  • News outlets augmenting their print offering with digital content

  • FMCG companies extending to e-commerce

8 - New digital businesses

Companies don't just extend their current offerings with digital transformation. They also come up with new digital products that complement the traditional ones. Examples may include connected devices, like GPS trackers that can now report activity to the cloud and provide value to the customers through recommendations.

9 - Digital globalization

Global shared services, like shared finance or HR, enable organizations to build truly global operations.

The Digital Transformation Benefits of Implementing Node.js

Organizations are looking for the most effective methods for digital transformation. Among these companies, Node.js is becoming the de facto technology for building out digital capabilities.

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient.

In other words, Node.js offers you the possibility to write servers using JavaScript with an incredible performance.

Increased developer productivity with same-language stacks

When PayPal started using Node.js, they reported a 2x increase in productivity compared to the previous Java stack. How is that even possible?

First, NPM, the Node.js package manager, has an incredible amount of modules that can be used instantly. This saves a lot of development effort for the development team.

Second, as Node.js applications are written using JavaScript, frontend developers can also easily understand what's going on and make necessary changes.

This saves you valuable time again as developers will use the same language on the entire stack.

100% business availability even with extreme load

Around 1.5 billion dollars are being spent online in the US on a single day on Black Friday each year.

It is crucial that your site can keep up with the traffic. This is why Walmart, one of the biggest retailers, is using Node.js to serve 500 million page views on Black Friday without a hitch.

Fast apps = satisfied customers

As your velocity increases because of productivity gains, you can ship features/products sooner. Products that run faster result in better user experience.

Kissmetric's study showed that 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less.

Your Digital Transformation Roadmap with Node.js

As with most new technologies introduced to a company, it’s worth taking babysteps with Node.js as well. As a short framework for introducing Node.js, we recommend the following steps:

  • building a Node.js core team

  • picking a small part of the application to be rewritten/extended using Node.js

  • extending the scope of the project to the whole organization.

1 - Building your Node.js core team

The core Node.js team should consist of people with JavaScript experience for both the backend and the frontend. It’s not crucial that the backend engineers have any Node.js experience -- the important aspect is the vision they bring to the team.

Introducing Node.js is not just about JavaScript. Members of the operations team must join the core team as well.

The introduction of Node.js to an organization does not stop at excelling Node.js. It also means adding modern DevOps or NoOps practices, including but not limited to continuous integration and delivery.

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2 - Embracing the proxy approach

To incrementally replace old systems or to extend their functionality easily, your team can use the proxy approach.

For the features or functions you want to replace, create a small and simple Node.js application and proxy some of your load to the newly built Node.js application. This proxy does not necessarily have to be written in Node.js.

With this approach, you can easily benefit from modularized, service-oriented architecture.

Another way to use proxies is to write them in Node.js and make them talk with the legacy systems. This way you have the option to optimize the data sent being sent. PayPal was one of the first adopters of Node.js at scale, and they started with this proxy approach as well.

The biggest advantages of these solutions are that you can put Node.js into production in a short amount of time, measure your results, and learn from them.

3 - Measure Node.js, be data-driven

For the successful introduction of Node.js during a digital transformation project, it is crucial to set up a series of benchmarks to compare the results between the legacy system and the new Node.js applications. These data points can be response times, throughput, or memory and CPU usage.

Orchestrating the Node.js Stack

As mentioned previously, introducing Node.js does not stop at excelling Node.js itself. Introducing continuous integration and delivery are crucial points as well.

Also, from an operations point of view, it is important to add containers to ship applications with confidence.

For orchestration, to operate the containers containing the Node.js applications we encourage companies to adopt Kubernetes, an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

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