IT Transformation, EA, and the Cloud (Part 2)

Let’s refer back to the list we included in the first post in this series on IT Transformation:

  1. Define the enterprise architecture – how the systems fit together to provide the business solutions that the business units demand,
  2. Manage the delivery of code for specific software packages – as part of cross-functional business/IT teams that will be run by the delivery managers situated within business units, and
  3. Provide system and infrastructure support for those solutions that are developed.

If you’re a critical reader, you probably noted that the last two items in the list above can be outsourced effectively, and you’re absolutely right. These services are commodities; they can be provided by outsourcers and generally don’t require specific industry vertical knowledge. That lies in stark contrast to number 1 in the list above, which is not something that can be outsourced… Why?

IT Transformation, Cloud Computing and the Future

Simply put, the way in which your software solutions fit together is a key differentiator for your business in the Web 2.0 era. The promise of large, packaged ERP solutions – that they could provide all of the software capabilities that your organization needed – has turned out to be untrue. The emergence of social networking – in fueling both your marketing activities and your sales – is real. The importance of a rich, interactive web presence is becoming more and more important. The ever-increasing pace of globalization means you have to be able to digitally interact across the planet. How will all of your technology solutions work together to provide a seamless customer experience? Is there a one-size-fits-all solution for the business world? No. Is there a one-size-fits-all solution for your industry? Unfortunately, the answer is still no. That is where enterprise architecture (EA) is critically important in enabling IT Transformation.

Think of it this way… Would a Ferrari be a Ferrari if the engine couldn’t effectively transmit the power to the wheels? Would it be a Ferrari if the design wasn’t just right? No, it most certainly would not. Think of your business as a Ferrari; all of the pieces have to work together to make a the-sum-is-greater-than-the-parts whole.

Similarly, your web presence – the portal for your customer into your world – needs to work seamlessly together with your social networking solutions. You want your customers to be able to connect with you on Facebook and get updates via Twitter… You want your customers to be able to buy your products – something which is only possible if your web portal interacts seamlessly with your supply chain solutions. You want to be able to learn about your customers, so that you can tailor your products and your marketing campaigns accordingly. To do that, the customer data you gather through your web portal – including what your customers say on Facebook – needs to flow through seamlessly to your business intelligence software. The exact method of interaction will differ based on industry vertical and based on your business plan. If you don’t connect these systems seamlessly and in the way your business requires, it would be like having a beautiful Ferrari sitting in your garage with the engine beside it – rather than in the engine bay ready to perform.

And that is the #1 value that your IT department should be providing for you. You know what you need your web presence to do for you. You know how you want to interact with your customers and what data you want to gather. IT shouldn’t dictate that for you. But IT Transformation should enable you to do business the way you want to do business.

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