As digital transformation accelerates, deepens and intensifies within the enterprise, the number of digital assets that an enterprise has to manage will correspondingly increase. For example, enterprises are already in the process of developing more net new applications, modernizing existing applications, creating microservices, APIs, functions as a service, infrastructure as code solutions, CI/CD toolchains and other implementations of DevOps toolchains. Moreover, enterprises increasingly source digital solutions from other enterprises or community-based sharing infrastructures such as open source code repositories or private repositories. These digital solutions will be deployed across a multitude of infrastructures and correspondingly require minor to substantial modifications to optimize them across different deployment environments.
This proliferation of digital assets will require enterprises to dedicate full-time developer resources to manage the exponential growth of digital assets. Such resources will play the role of a digital librarian tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that all digital assets:
- can be seamlessly retrieved and used by relevant stakeholders;
- features documentation about their origin, lifecycle and evolution;
- have been evaluated for the most recent security-related breaches and considerations;
- are managed by governance protocols that ensure they are accessible only to appropriate individuals and teams;
- are replicated in conjunction with business continuity planning to ensure not only their timely recovery, but also the ability to recover past versions of each asset;
- and have access to relevant datastores and APIs.
This type of full-time developer resource—let’s call it a digital librarian—will become increasingly important to enterprises as they embark further down the path of producing custom digital solutions as opposed to customizing or configuring existing applications from third party vendors. Moreover, a full-time, digital librarian will become imperative as organizations intensify the practice of sharing and borrowing code from other organizations and communities. Put differently, an enterprise digital officer will be required to manage the flow of digital assets and ensure the implementation of processes that enable developers to find the source of the digital assets that they are using, and how those assets have variously used by the organization for which they work.
This kind of digital librarian will require the following skillsets and capabilities:
- Proficiency in AI/ML technologies that dynamically manage the indexing, tagging and classification of millions of digital assets
- Content management capabilities that empower developers to identify and use assets of interest
- Identity and access management experience to ensure that assets are available to appropriate personnel
- Business continuity and disaster recovery skills
- Granular knowledge of databases, data warehousing practices and APIs used to access data and feed applications
As such, a full-time developer librarian will require the skills of a full-stack developer that has deep experience in AI/ML. Digital librarians will need to either customize off the shelf AI/ML platforms for the task of digital asset management, or otherwise develop custom AI/ML applications for asset management themselves. Importantly, such librarians will need to meticulously document their own processes and actions to ensure business continuity as they themselves vacate their role over time. The larger point here is that a digital asset manager requires granular knowledge of development processes that they can bring to the role to manage the technologies that help manage digital assets. In addition, knowledge of development will be required to develop taxonomies and processes for classifying digital assets in ways that make sense to developers, and facilitate the use of digital assets.
But isn’t everything ultimately stored in an enterprise repository? And isn’t this responsibility already handled by a CIO or chief data officer? The answer is no, on both counts. While code is stored in repositories, the surrounding universe of data stores that populate applications, APIs, testing results and production-grade implementations of applications across multiple platforms are not. The entirety of these artifacts are essential to documenting the digital history of enterprises and their management is invaluable both to innovation as well as to legal considerations about the intellectual property of a digital solution. CIOs and chief data officers certainly manage many of the processes underlying the management of digital assets, but rarely to the point of managing the availability and history of each and every digital asset in the entire organization. As digital transformation initiatives intensify, the need for full-time resources to manage digital assets will intensify and become a core component of the developer workforce in all enterprises.