Business applications are the workhorses of enterprises. Over the last decade, globalization, new regulations, and changing business models, user demographics, and behavior have increased our expectations for enterprise applications. We now demand they provide new, advanced capabilities and greater agility.
We have also witnessed a number of major innovations such as open source, Web 2.0, SOA, cloud computing, mobile devices, social networking, composite applications, virtualization, and outsourcing each come to maturity. This raises questions about the implementation of these innovations in mission-critical enterprise applications.
On one hand we are in the midst of change and new developments within the enterprise. But on the other, application portfolios are aging, critical skills are retiring, budgets are shrinking, and maintenance and operations expenses and associated risks are increasing.
That’s why now is the time for corporate strategists to take a hard look at their existing applications portfolio and start developing a vision and transformation road map for the years ahead. Corporate executives have to start thinking about how their organization will leverage these innovations and how they will position their corporate information assets to maximize business benefits and best serve business objectives in the long run.
This is a tall order! It’s one that requires careful and skillful planning for precise alignment with business direction and strategy. IT strategists need to understand how their business leaders plan to take advantage of new channels, like mobile devices and social networks, to market, sell, and deliver their products and services.
They must have a clear vision of how to evolve their company’s presence on the Web both from a brand and transactional capability perspectives. They need to understand changing behavior patterns of customers and changing trends in the market to identify and deploy effective strategies that will help them interact with consumers in new “virtual markets.”
Given the dynamic nature of business markets, they need to build their information assets in a way that will enable the launch of new business models and counteract their competitors’ business models at short notice. They have to carefully assess security implications and decide whether they will build or buy, develop skills locally or offshore, deploy on-premise or on cloud, and develop capabilities in-house or outsource the task.
From a pure technology perspective, the challenges are many. Legacy assets are fast becoming a liability while a new generation of technology platforms is rising. Transforming these long-standing castles to champions of agility is not going to happen overnight. Many new horizontal architectural layers have emerged surrounding these once stove pipe applications.
Cloud computing is fast becoming a disruptive deployment model. There is a proliferation of client access channels to include voice, Web, mobile, and social networks. Companies are forced to support all of these while still maintaining their traditional channels.
With a massive amount of time and treasury already invested in building existing business applications, organizations need to have a clear vision for the future, a sound plan for evolution, and a robust governance framework to execute. This series of posts will explore what lies ahead in terms of the future of enterprise applications and how you can develop an effective application transformation strategy. Stay tuned for more.