IT Architecture is grasping to keep up.
Today, most major enterprises struggle with on of the following IT architectures:
- A custom developped core system in a program language no developper below the age of 50 speaks, with a mish-mash of different applications build on that core (from access db scripts written by somebody 10 years ago to interfaces to create interactive websites by an ad agency).
- An industry standard ERP system (think SAP) build for massive transactions 10 years ago and tweaked by countless waves of consultants and internal IT gurus based on continuously changing demands from the business.
This leads to a situation where IT gets frustrated by a chaotic and hard to maintain architecture and ’the business’ does not understand why IT never seems to be able to deliver something without taking 2 years. Add the rise of social media and the need for people to collaborate more in their day to day job, pushing business people towards SaaS solution not supported by IT and it is not hard to see that things can get quite heated. IT departments fight with security guidelines to prevent employees to use social collaboration tools. How hard it may be for some, I am convinced we are (sorry for that: we have) evolved to a situation where the user is more in control (CMS allow non-IT profiles already for years to tweak ’technical’ things). Not to mention the overall ‘IT knowledge’ of younger people.
My conviction is that IT architects should refocus on the core of the organisation: The processes that are stable for years, require a great deal of protection and consists of data that can deliver value to all business units (and external stakeholders like customers). Make this data completely error proof and uptodate should be their main concern. The next step would be to create an open layer (this means not without security!) where the business can attach other solutions to. Being in the world we are at, having stable requirements for business applications is impossible, so IT should not ask the business for it.
This open but stable core functionality gives companies the possibilities to quickly deploy SaaS solutions for a need that is imminent now (without having huge setup costs) without compromising the need for core data stability.
Ps: The link with marketeers is obvious: They also find out the hard way that their customers cannot be managed anymore on a coporate transactional way. This realisation only makes it more synical for IT departments who had been warned: Times they are a changing indeed!