Business isn’t static and neither are the business applications that power it. Over the years the portfolio of business applications inside every organization has not only grown, it has changed to meet economic, commercial and operational challenges, as well as take advantage of technical advances.
With continuing economic uncertainty making many organizations more risk-averse than ever, 2012 is likely to be the year many organizations focus on modernizing rather than replacing their old IT estates. The first step on that journey is to understand the applications that make up your business. Only with that knowledge will you find a way to break through complexity to get to simplicity.
Application portfolio complexity has been caused by time and change. The applications you currently use to run your business processes didn’t all appear fully formed at the same time. They reflect what your business needed at a certain point in time. As time has moved on so the business needs have changed – and the applications you use to address them have moved on too.
Let’s look at what may have changed since your application portfolio was established:
Your market isn’t the same as it was – you have more competition, you need to respond faster to commercial challenges and customer demand, the old ‘reality’ has changed.
Maybe you‘re no longer the business you once were – you’ve merged with another company and your systems need to be aligned, you’ve expanded into new territories with different regulations.
Your customers aren’t the same as they used to be – they want to interact with you online via PCs, tablets and Smartphones.
Your use of technology has shifted – you no longer run everything from the mainframe, you’ve bought systems that run in a distributed environment, some of your systems run in the cloud, and you’ve replaced in-house systems with packaged solutions.
The way you do business has changed – your salespeople use iPhones to manage their calendars and place orders, your supply chain is automated, dealers place orders online.
Your application needs have changed – you need to provide more information and allow more people to access it, you need to interact with third party applications and with supply chain partners’ systems, you need to meet new standards and regulations.
Your people have changed – the new CIO wants a ‘root and branch’ overhaul of IT, the new CEO wants more analytics and shareholder value, the original programmers have retired.
Of course, none of these changes has happened sequentially or in a linear fashion. The changes haven’t stopped happening, and never will. The only constant is change.
As if that wasn’t complex enough, changes to your application portfolio will have been made in the context of budget, business priorities, and available skills. Some applications haven’t kept up, despite needing to, some will no longer be fully supported and some will have been patched up with a quick fix. The result: Rather than a clear, structured environment that is easy to understand and maintain, your application portfolio may be a bit of a jungle.
The increasing complexity of IT demands careful management. In order to define the roadmaps to take your business applications forward you need to understand where you are now, and to synchronize your IT and business priorities.
And that’s the first step towards modernization: getting a clear view of your enterprise applications ecosystem.
Modernization strategies involve hundreds of decisions. Successful modernization projects demand a firm basis for making those decisions, and a way of simplifying the complexity of expanding application portfolios. This is what Application Portfolio Management (APM) delivers: it enables you to determine reliable and repeatable ways of interrogating your IT landscape for vital information regarding cost, value, complexity, risk, customer satisfaction, fitness for purpose and other key metrics. This is at the heart of the value that APM delivers.
Micro Focus has helped global clients discover and act on key business metrics buried in their IT estates, ensuring the right strategic decisions are made at the right time. Accepting the risk of making the wrong strategic decision is simply unthinkable these days.