“Houston, We Have a Problem.” We Aren’t Responding Quickly Enough to Business Needs!

Class reunions, photo albums, familiar songs, and old applications – like longtime friends that awaken our memories and stir our emotions. The past is a kaleidoscope of promises, failures, victories, and embarrassments. Sometimes we want to forget memories that are too painful. As the years pass, however, remembrances of unpleasant events usually fade into our subconscious. But there is a time to remember: Mistakes should not be repeated; commitments made must be fulfilled and the memory of special events can encourage us and move us to action.

The Israelites spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days. How long has your company been building the hair-ball you call the ‘current state’ application architecture?

The case for a strategy

Lacking a strategy, past generation(s) have been coding / building / buying software for up to 40 years and have perished into the wasteland of:

  • “Put-out-a-fire” architecture,
  • Point fixes that don’t fix problems,
  • Bypassing middleware because it’s “cheaper”,
  • Departmental IT

Are you your firms’ Moses?

After the organization choses to follow any transformation, they need to know ‘how’ to follow the transformation. “How”? The lessons are clear. Because of what was done, have hope and follow a different path. Because of what is now expected, listen and transform. Because of who they were (e.g. “IT”), you should honor their humble beginnings but not build newer technology on top of their legacy. Learning these lessons will prepare you for the future – your future.

All in the backdrop of an ever-growing bewildering range of integration choices. They left a manual-intensive paper-based model behind, but never reached the promise land of automation, technology, and a new style of IT that was to save them.

  • Strengthening governance
  • Standing up Enterprise Architecture
  • Implementing an Application Portfolio Management capability
  • Aligning current business climate, consumers, and emerging business climate
  • Transforming your technology post-merger / acquisition
  • Responding to radically different business models by new market entrants, using IT in new and threatening ways
  • Developing more knowledge rather than more information

It’s a tremendous challenge to lead transformation. As portfolios grow and become increasingly complex, conflicting needs and plans arise. Look for ways of sharing the load so that others may leverage their abilities in support of the transformation. Focus on the positive – problems don’t have to rob you of the victory.

Challenges you may face

  • Which systems should be launched? Updated? Replaced?
  • So hard to figure out the current “as-is”. Business is always screaming for more!
  • What’s the best environment for cloud? Should we even move to the cloud?
  • Need operation software, but it’s so bloody expensive
  • Which technologies meet our requirement? Meet our EA standards? Do we even have standards that need met?
  • Complete automation!? No way!
  • Spaghetti-like functionality structure

Defining ‘Business’ Value

“Houston, we have a problem.” We aren’t responding quickly enough to business needs. We cannot counter the disruptive influences of mobility, cloud, social media, and empowered consumers. Pressure from business leaders is increasing as you have failed to link transformation with innovation that supports their business needs.

  • Are you implementing business-led innovation?
  • Would you consider yourself an IT-enabled business?
  • Are your business units’ ideas driving top line growth that your current systems can’t support?
  • How well are you doing at reducing spending on traditional IT and moving spend to business projects?
  • Is IT a strategic partner or just another vendor for the business?

Be honest. You aren’t in this alone! If you haven’t seen your main competitors in a white paper or at a recent technical conference, trust me, they are fighting the same thing. Your (and theirs) enterprise has become part of a much broader ecosystem – one that requires ecosystem-centric transformation.

You are slowly moving from legacy systems to modernized (what DOES that mean?) and mobile and cloud and unstructured data that requires increased security, information optimization, and mobility integration.

Bloody hell, no wonder you need a consultancy!

Where to start?

“Once it is obvious that the application / system complexity is a problem, focus your efforts on doing something about it, rather than further documenting the problem.” (Gartner “What is the penalty for complexity in application portfolios?” June 2010)

How can something so simple and straight forward, still be spot-on almost 5 years later?

Because, E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E skips the basics. It ALL starts with documenting your current state!

How can you begin to invisition a future state when you don’t have a clue where you are today?

Think about it a bit, and I’ll see you in the future…

Frank Wood

Executive Transformation Strategist



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