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Business requirements for flexible, innovative IT are generating pressure for IT simplification and adoption of new technology solutions, like cloud and mobility, that facilitate continual business changes.
As a result, IT simplification is often a business priority for the CIO and the board.
The most effective approach to simplifying IT is to start not with IT itself, but with business needs and product sets.
Any program to renew the IT environment must take into account the business’ evolving strategy—or miss the opportunity to create systems able to support growth.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing legacy complexity and inflexibility. Only with a clear view of the business’ requirements can the CIO make the right technology simplification choices.
Many organizations must manage highly complex and inflexible legacy IT systems as a result of mergers and restructuring, tactical investment decisions and changes in business priorities over time. This complexity has significant negative implications for IT costs, operational risk and adaptability to ongoing business changes.
IT simplification is generally brought to the agenda by business triggers or pain points. The most common are low IT flexibility and inability of IT to respond quickly to changing business needs.
Many CIOs are looking to simplify their organizations’ IT architectures by moving to fewer, standardized components. This drive for simplification and standardization is leading to a strong focus on how IT services are structured.
Increasingly, this analysis points to the benefits of cloud-based offerings and components delivered as-a-service (XaaS). As cloud technology matures, it is bringing a new level of flexibility in matching infrastructure provisioning to business needs.
But both legacy renewal and cloud are about far more than just infrastructure. A clear road map is needed to turn a complex, on-premise legacy architecture into a simplified, flexible architecture using both public and private cloud and the best available application solutions.
The business triggers for IT legacy renewal demand a business-grounded approach that enhances both IT and the business as a whole. To approach simplification and integration decisions from an IT perspective is to start at the wrong end.
Simplification of technology requires a debate about simplifying the business. These two often distinct agendas are increasingly being combined on the corporate investment agenda.
A priority throughout the legacy renewal and simplification process is a rigorous focus on architectures, on both the IT and business sides. Accenture High Performance IT research has found that the organizations that excel at agility generally maintain a strong focus on architecture and use this focus to inform investment decisions.
To develop the necessary focus on architectures, organizations need to map changes in the business to those in IT. The business/IT engagement model must be updated to exploit a simpler, standardized set of components across both domains.
To do so, organizations must perform a “root-and-branch” review of the products and services provided by the business, the value they generate, and the infrastructure that is used to deliver them. The review should reveal the organizations’ challenges and the best architectural models to address them.
There are five major steps in a thorough review:
Product Cost Transparency. The first step is to examine the expected relevance and relative costs of the products and services in the business’s portfolio of offerings. Having an understanding of the relative costs and future relevance of all products can support a strong business case for replatforming. This understanding enables the business to address obsolete products and paves the way for renewal of the IT and product architecture to support growth.
Step Up New Platform. Having identified the current profitable, active products and services and their IT requirements, the business creates a new platform to support them.
Transition Products to New Platform. Move IT processing support from a legacy set of components to a strategic set, and transitions its portfolio of active products and services to the new IT platform.
Close Unprofitable Products. Eliminate unprofitable products and services.
Transition Current Platform or Remaining Products. Transition your current platforms or remaining products and services to a replatformed operation to support the legacy requirements for as long as necessary.
Inflexible legacy IT architectures constrain not just IT’s ability to support the business, but also the business’s potential to grow and compete. There is strong argument for renewal and simplification of IT architectures in many organizations.
A renewal program must pursue simplification of both IT and the business in order to stimulate growth. Organizations should focus on how business and IT architectures can be simplified by moving to fewer, standardized components, thus renewing the entire organization’s capacity for growth.
September 19, 2013
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