In my last post I used 'ecosystem of applications' rather than 'portfolio of applications' to describe the applications under IT management.
I chose 'ecosystem' carefully. What we at one time considered an internal collection of enterprise applications is becoming a hybrid composed of Software as a Service, supplier and customer interactions and internal systems loosely coupled so as to permit dynamic integration with both long term and temporary partners.
Or at least this is the dynamic vision that organizations should be aspiring to.
The case of temporary partners is the extreme. Most current environments make it very difficult to plug a partner into a key business process if the system was not originally designed with that as a requirement. Even in those cases where we do incorporate a partner, say for collaborative design, replacing them with another is normally a major effort. Or consider the simpler case, replacing an internal point solution like workforce management. Substituting a product from one vendor with that of another can be incredibly painful.
Fundamental to managing this ecosystem is understanding the interactions between components, their efficiencies (think SLAs and cost), and their relative importance to the business. This will drive a component architecture that supports the kinds of dynamism that are critical to true agility. In the future you will use this model to simulate your business environment including customers and competition. And know, for instance, that a certain volume of negative tweets will affect sales in a particular region by X%.
To find out more check out the Application Transformation sessions at HPDISCOVER 2011.