For several years, the IT department has been in a state of transition within large companies and organizations. While back-office systems are as vital as ever—these being what technology consultant Geoffrey Moore calls “systems of record”—IT is supplying more strategic value to businesses as they support new “systems of engagement.”
Indeed, IT’s role within the larger organization is being reshaped, with IBM and Rational seeing four important trends to modernizing enterprise, multi-platform management and development:
• Portfolio strategy and management
• Mobile enterprise development
• Continuous integration
• Cloud computing.
All four of these trends fit within a general “flow” from customer requirements through development to delivery and then circling back to customers where the “engagement” aspect becomes most critical. Portfolio strategy and management is about bridging the gap between the Line of Business (LOB) and IT, ensuring there’s optimal use of enterprise budgets and resources. Mobile enterprise development is about extending the reach of existing applications and data to customers, partners, suppliers, and employees. Both continuous integration and cloud computing are about enhancing the methodology of application design, development, testing, and deployment—mobile or otherwise. The goal? Deliver faster, cheaper, and with higher quality and more value.
Here we offer IBM’s perspective on these trends and explain how they’re relevant to the task of modernizing an enterprise toward greater efficiency and bottom-line improvements.
Portfolio Strategy and Management
Organizations must innovate to deliver greater business value. However, an increasing percentage of their budget is locked into what most view as maintenance costs. When you consider that “keeping the lights on” costs consume at least two-thirds of today’s IT budgets—often more in large enterprises—and that a significant percentage of projects are late or fail altogether, there’s clearly a need to do better. The issue is LOB and IT are frequently at odds on where to focus.
Portfolio Strategy and Management (PSM) is about making more informed and aligned decisions. This alignment of priorities between the LOB and IT is an important step in deriving greater business value from IT. In fact, a solid PSM implementation is key to the effectiveness of the other three trend areas—mobile, continuous integration, and cloud computing—as each of them represents different pressures on both the business and IT. How do you sort through all these competing projects and still ensure you’re doing what’s most important for the business?
To help answer this, you need to analyze your business across three distinct areas within PSM:
• Application Portfolio Management helps organizations proactively manage the applications that run the business. Over the last few decades, many companies have made significant investments in C/C++, Java, COBOL, PL/I, RPG, EGL, and other Fourth-Generation Languages (4GLs)—in addition to investments in distributed languages. The inventory of applications can be huge. And remember, these are the applications that run the business. These enterprise assets and their evolution, be it modernization, retirement, or replacement with a packaged application, should be managed carefully, in conjunction with all stakeholders, to ensure the most value possible is derived.
• Demand management is a discipline for determining the derived business value of each project and to help you know if these projects are containable within the IT capacity, both human and financial. Demand management must be conducted jointly with key LOB stakeholders, as requests for new applications, enhancements to existing applications, basic maintenance, and modernization activities are all vetted together.
• Delivery management governs project execution by setting appropriate checkpoints during implementation. Delivery management is unique vs. project management in that it ties back into the overall demand management dashboard, allowing all stakeholders to see progress and make real-time course corrections as appropriate.
Mobile Enterprise Development
Almost all enterprises are expending or are planning to expend effort to expand their reach to customers, employees, and partners via mobile channels. The question is, what are the most effective and affordable ways to do that?