29 Mar 2012
The “IT Transformation” of an organization from its legacy environment to the next generation of technology is one of the most complex and expensive changes an organization can undergo. Just building momentum to begin the program can be extremely difficult, as organizations typically undergo months (maybe years) of planning and false starts. When implementation finally begins, the team often focuses on the perceived pressure point – configuring the new off-the-shelf applications to meet the functional capabilities desired by the business.
The realization that eventually comes (often too late) is that the problem isn’t whether the new applications can provide the required functionality. These programs are starting in the wrong place and aren’t dealing with the real problems:
- How to improve and optimize business processes
- How to manage information across the enterprise
- How to safely migrate from the legacy to the contemporary environment
- How to deliver on a transition strategy that provides incremental functionality while mitigating risk and staying within budget
- How to define an improvement strategy for your people, processes, and organization as well as the technology
Of all these factors, how information is managed is the most crucial factor to the success of the program. Unlike other areas (application functionality, integration, process, presentation) there is no choice with data but to fix the issues of the past – there is no opportunity to “start over.” For a complex, federated organization, this problem becomes even more complex due to the high degree of de-centralization of systems and processes.
The MIKE2.0 Leadership Team believes meaningful, cost-effective business and technology change processes can achieved much more effectively by taking an Information Development approach, and our methodology can be an integral part in a successful transformation. Our Executive Overview on Data Driven IT Transformation provides an introductory presentation on this approach.
3 Key Choices Impacting Your IT Transformation Program
We believe there are three strategic choices will affect the manner in which you define your transformation strategy:
Will your development streams be application-driven or business-driven?
A business-driven development approach means that not only applications are important; equal focus must be given to information management and integration. Taking this approach will impact not only the technology solution, but also how the organization is run, and how programs are typically funded. Moving to a business-driven approach means that application implementation at the project level no longer solely drives the architecture and the Technology Backplane; the integration layer as well as the data layer is funded and implemented at the enterprise level. Some organizations are better suited towards an application-driven approach as taking a business-driven approach also means more inherit complexity across a federated environment. It is a consideration that is fundamental to an organization’s resulting technology requirements and must therefore be considered very carefully.
Will your approach to integration use a common, standards-based approach or will it be driven by applications?
Integration is an inherently complex activity – not only in terms of technology but also in terms of organizational behavior and processes (it requires a lot of people to work together). Integration teams are typically assigned the most difficult tasks on the project, addressing limitations in legacy applications through the perceived newest and most flexible technology solutions. As a rapidly evolving set of technologies, it is therefore not surprising that much of the legacy integration environment is a mess – a “spider web” of integration touch-points between systems.
Contemporary integration technologies such as EAI were supposed to fix this mess – and help break you out of the spider web. Certainly, off-the-shelf integration technologies provide a capability to do new development more quickly, but many of the environments are perhaps more complex (and less reusable) than before.
The lack of standards is what makes integration difficult. Without proper standards, new technologies just make the spider web bigger (and more expensive) – automating the spider web through application-driven integration.
Implementing a Services-Oriented Architecture through open and common standards is the key to breaking out of the spider web. Just as the advent of standards in other areas of IT has greatly simplified database design, network communications, and inter-office collaboration, standards are the key to simplifying integration.
Will you make the management of information be a critical focus of your organization?
We believe that the Information Development approach is an Evolutionary Path that will be delivered over time and will be complemented by emerging standards in business and technology.
The MIKE2.0 Leadership Team believes this is the “path to the future” for many organizations. The changing landscape in business will require companies to adapt their current approach to meet the challenging and complex environment ahead. The real winners will be those that can manage information to serve their customers better, and use information and improved processes to take cost out of their business.