We have shared it with you before: we are currently in the process of creating the 2014 edition of our Application Landscape Report. As a matter of fact, we now have access to the initial research data and although you will have to wait until January for the report to be published, some insights are too interesting not to be part of your IT planning efforts for next year.
What we are finding is that IT departments increasingly feel the pressure of their business peers to deliver IT solutions that deliver undeniable, hard business value. First and foremost, this is obviously driven by the advances we have seen in the past two years in analytics and business intelligence, the rise of social media and mobile user experiences and – of course – the simplicity that the Cloud delivers in bringing powerful new applications very quickly and effectively to life.
It’s good news on one hand, as the business side need not to be convinced of the potential of this new wave of applications (actually, they might recognize it even faster than their colleagues in IT). But on the other hand, the existing application landscape – as it has evolved during the course of many years – usually doesn’t show the same, obvious business value that the newcomers have.
All of this is quickly creating a new benchmark, a new set of expectations against which the application landscape is measured. It may be the trigger to transform the applications portfolio in a more radical way than companies have been willing to do so far, as the only way to meet the new standards.
Clearly, the total cost of ownership of the application landscape is still the most crucial success factor: it is an unavoidable hygiene factor that requires the highest levels of industrialization. This will involve the mutualisation of scarce, skilled resources, process automation, smart tools, team collaboration, continuous lean style improvement and the pro-active use of reusable assets. There is still a lot of work to be done here.
But right after that comes transparency, both in terms of how the applications portfolio delivers actual, measurable business outcomes and to what extend the service levels are being met. It requires much more than ‘just’ effective alignment between business and IT, as every component of the application landscape will have to be expressed in terms of how it relates to business value and with what quality it should be delivered. Once this is achieved – could be a life-changing experience indeed – it creates the foundation for (possibly radical) change towards an applications portfolio that simply brings more value to the business.
It also will create more room for innovation: delivering on the promise of Cloud, Big Data, Social and Mobile but just as much re-engineering the application landscape over and over again to benefit from new technology developments. After all: what once was state of the art sooner or later is bound to become state of the commodity.
In short, we are finding that breakthroughs in information technology are creating new, sky-high expectations around the application landscape. In order to meet these expectations, organizations seem to be considering more drastic measures than in the past. It gives way to a next generation of Application Management services, among other things.
Keep watching us practicing the art of Application Landscaping. Much more soon to follow.