IT architects should learn: nothing beats a simple, powerful story. No, not even these six-layered, three-dimensional reference frameworks can do that; they are nice to discuss internally – among architects and all – but outside, in the real world, very few people get it. I sincerely believe that the most important lacking skills in IT currently are visualization and story telling. We should apply less UML or BPMN and more prototypes and storyboards. Fewer complex architectural models or nested requirement lists and more compelling, engaging ‘days in the life of…’. No wonder that some of our most recent techniques (for example to accelerate the implementation of package solutions) have the narrative outside in perspective, through consumer scenarios, at its very foundation.

We felt the same when we were working on the 2011 edition of Capgemini’s ‘Business Technology Agora’ (also known as ‘TechnoVision’). The approach has proven for quite a few years now to be effective in understanding the impact of evolving technologies on business change. But it features a matrix (to map business drivers on technology solutions) and a layered framework (to cluster technology areas) that are both often applauded by IT experts but less understood by business people.

So when we added the concept of five ‘Application Lifecycles’ to distinguish between applications with different development and usage dynamics, we chose for the simple metaphor of modes of transport to explain our thinking: Train, Bus, Car, Scooter and a central Hub as the illustrations of five categories of applications that each have their own characteristics in terms of change frequency, governance, delivery model, skills needed and so on. The result has just been published in a white paper. Our findings of the past few months show that the metaphors have an instantaneous effect on people – both at the IT and business side – not only because the concepts seem spot-on but also because we use metaphors.

Have a look at the white paper and let us know what you think, both about the ideas and the story.