About a year ago, I did a series of posts on application transformation and doing more with more. This included videos from Geoffrey Moore that discussed moments that make a difference for a business.
A couple terms used during that series were systems of engagement and systems of record. These concepts can be important when addressing your application portfolio and the organization's application transformation needs.
The following video (produced by HP) provides more details on that concept.
Looks like it was filmed around Dallas, based on the DART train at the beginning.
There are a couple of topics I’ll be talking about at HP Discover: systems of record and application transformation. I’ve done a number of blog posts related to this space over the years, but there still seems to be quite a bit of confusion about some of the terms used in applications transformation.
Systems of record are those systems that store the history and detail of business transactions… Systems of engagement are those loosely structured, conversational systems that sit on the edge of the business the employees, customers, partners interact with. Until recently, organizations didn’t think there was a difference in their portfolio.
Almost all organization systems were based on their being a scarcity of resources (computing, storage…). Many of these limitations are no longer valid. How we think about our systems needs to change.
The big question though is: What to do about it? How do you get started? Alphabetically?!? There needs to be a better way.
I was at a conference recently where a very innovative leader said: “There is no need for strategy any more. Just throw you applications away and start over.” Clearly, this is a person that has never really had a significant installed base. He also stated “If any startup isn’t embarrassed by their first release, they waited too long.” Most enterprise organizations don’t have the luxury of this slash and burn approach.
There needs to be a good way to approach the problem of both reviewing the existing environment and determining what new opportunities can be addressed and that is what we hope to talk about.
Current situation analysis is definitely a good place to start. The approach needs to have measures based on the business needs and the constraints of the organization. Having a canned technique is helpful but may not address the true needs of the organization, so understanding the definition of value is important. Examples could be to evaluate the applications on:
- Value generated/watt consumed
- Value generated/maintenance $$ spent
- Core process/support process
- Mobile workforce demand
Whatever the technique may be that is right for you, the approach needs to define what the organization values and who the sponsor for the work will be. Executive support is crucial for these activities – so be ready to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question.
Today, HP is announcing new applications transformation capabilities to help organizations do more with more -- more mobile devices, more platforms in a wider variety of locations.
Everyone is familiar with how traditional IT applications consume the majority of the budget keeping the existing organization working. These systems of record build up over time and need to be examined periodically for the value they provide. Over the next couple of days, I am going to put out some posts about the changing expectations of applications and the transformations that can take place in business and the new levels of business value that can be generated.
To help with this I’ve included some videos from Geoffrey Moore so here is the first one that introduces the concepts of systems of record and systems of engagement:
Yes, organizations need to do more with more and if it is well planned it can even cost less too.
A number of folks who are at the HP Master the Cloud event in Toronto got together last night for dinner and we had a pretty wide ranging conversation discussing technology and technology adoption.
At one point, someone at the table said "I understand Cloud Bursting", and naturally with my slightly contrarian nature I responded “Oh really, explain it to me, since I don’t think there are many people who actually do understand it. How does it work?” I realized I was backing them into a corner that probably no one – especially me – could get out of. I admitted to them that I was being unfair.
The reason I say that is that in order to answer the question, you need to understand what the organization is actually trying to do. What constraints are being placed on their environment? How do they measure value? What kind of software resources do they have available?
It is easy to say “cloud bursting” but quite a different level of expertise is required to actually implement it in software so it works reliably and securely. There is a level of architecture sophistication that is hard to find. I can guarantee only a tiny percentage of current IT systems can support this level of flexibility. It is definitely “doable” -- just not a simple answer and not everyone is going to be willing to pay for what it will take.
There are many aspects of the movement to a more flexible IT environment that have similar underlying complexities. It’s like using the 5 Whys to get to the root cause. It can really make you think about what’s important.
I was looking at the Consider the Source blog entry titled The Optimus Primes of Outsourcing. It made a good point about how different organizations look at advancing into the future. Some are transformational while others like bold new projects. In a world where outsourcing is becoming a common way of integration and modernization for organizations. It is an alternative for easing into change by pulling in experts. There are skills and models that can be brought to modernization situations to help lower risk. Organizations that do these activities more than once will have best practices and repeatable processes.
The imperative for enterprise modernization is simple: It comes down to common-sense economics. Familiar legacy systems have been the foundation for many businesses for decades, so it's easy to ignore the compelling economics of the non-proprietary alternatives. The complexities of that success will require periodic weeding for maximum value harvest.
I find it interesting that organizations can view infrastructure modernization separately from application modernization. From my perspective there will always be elements of both for every improvement. I have not quite included business modernization, but will give in that any effort that has real business impact will need to incorporate those aspects as well.
There is no one best way to modernize. The process begins with a current situation assessment and review of the existing applications and hardware portfolio with an eye toward long-term goals and thinking about value delivered and what can be migrated and what should be migrated. Your partners in modernization should be able to attune themselves to your business and be open to finding a solution that matches your needs. While the migrations that are core to modernization were once viewed as risk-prone, as the improvement process becomes rigorous and reliable it should be less risky (the current production is running on that code after all).That’s assuming that the foundational business rules have not changed and can be harvested effectively from the existing code.