The signs are not good. A recent CIO Survey so this is all a bit worrying. Can we save architecture? Should we try?
Recently I have been enjoying the “Pheonix ProjectThis is one of those novels of IT and, like a good Disney movie, you know it is just a story but it engages on many levels and includes strong messages. In the Pheonix Project the authors make much of the parallels between traditional manufacturing and IT operations. I am a big fan of this idea and something very similar is at the heart of the next chapter in our story about a service oriented operating model for IT.
In this latest post on a service-oriented operating model for IT I will cover mapping out the IT value chain. There are quite a few steps which lead up to this point so start here if you want a reminder and don’t forget these warnings. So let’s get started with: what are IT value chains all about, why you need to take the time to map them and how do you use them.
I recently read an interview with Catherine Bessant, CIO of Bank of America (a quick and simple registration on CIO.com is required). Catherine comes across as an impressive CIO role model. She has taken an unusual path to the role and has an unusual approach to some of the challenges which we can all learn from. For this post I have picked out one of Catherine’s key areas of focus. She describes herself as “freakishly focused on simplification.” Given the intricate and fast moving nature of IT, you might think this focus is incompatible with the CIO’s role but it should be near the top of every CIO’s agenda.
This post is one of a series about developing a service-oriented operating model for IT. Previous posts have covered: the concept of a service-oriented operating model for IT designing the right organisation structure. This post is about the first step in the IT transformation process - engaging with the rest of the organisation. This means IT leadership engaging with other leaders across the enterprise and not just the rest of the IT department. Whether or not your vision is to move to a service-oriented operating model this is the first step in the process.
There is quite a lot written about IT consolidation and centralisation. Best practice in business operations includes concepts such as having a “single source of the truth” to help understand and serve customers or make key business decisions. These sorts of concepts imply some centrally managed shared IT. Enterprise architects strive to understand, model and design business structures and supporting IT spanning whole enterprises. IT concepts and technologies such as Service Oriented Architecture and Cloud Computing are justified on the principles of maximising scale and re-use. Procurement specialists seek to rationalise suppliers and consolidate purchases for all categories of spend including IT products and services. Suppliers offer price and other inducements for sole supplier status. For a long time ERP suppliers have promoted their ability to provide a single, integrated solution to the needs of large businesses. For relatively small organisations a single, enterprise-wide perspective on IT is quite realistic. For large organisations, particularly those which operate on a truly global scale, the reality is a lot more complex.
Recently I read an article on the on-line version of Forbes by Mark Settle. Mark was proposing an IT operating model which he calls “Broker/Integrate/Orchestrate” as a replacement for a more traditional approach he refers to as “Plan/Build/Run”. The article is well written but I think Mark creates an artificial gulf between these two ways of looking at IT and neglects another useful alternative: an operating model based upon a portfolio of services.
Every few months the IT press is swept by talk of the “next big thing” and how it will totally transform the IT market, change how IT users work, shake organisations, batter IT departments and threaten CIOs. In reaction many commentators will post a wave of comments explaining that the “next big thing” is not new at all and has been a core part of IT for years. There are always a few that point out that IBM Mainframes were doing the same thing decades ago. The current wave of press hype seems to be focused on the combination of Social Networking, Cloud computing and Mobile devices and trends built upon these components such as “Consumerisation of IT” and “Bring Your Own Device”. In this case I think there is some substance to the arguments made by both camps but both seem to be neglecting what could be a slower acting and more profound shift - a shift in the application of technology rather than the technology itself.
If you were an artist, investment manager or a government minister you would describe a “portfolio” in very different ways. Even within the domain of the CIO the word has several distinct uses. Here is my attempt to summarise what constitutes the different portfolios that are relevant for a CIO. In subsequent blogs I’ll expand on what I have learnt about each of these from my research and my own experiences.