Digital products and agile delivery have unlocked huge potential for companies. To fully grasp this opportunity businesses need their architecture teams to be bold and forget about the ‘IT rulebook’.
The move to digital & agile poses a challenge to traditional IT architecture teams, who govern what IT departments do and how they work through defining IT rules and guidelines. The principles these rules enforce, such as technology stability and uniformity, are a lot less relevant as cloud and agile increasingly; reduce the cost and time required to deliver technology solutions, and significantly improve interoperability.
The rise in shadow IT and the increasing focus of the business’ attention on ‘the age of the customer’ illustrate that businesses want to take advantage of these trends and will find ways around the IT rulebook. Rather than redefining the rulebook to close these loopholes, architects should instead focus on embracing new technology and the potential it brings.
Where the business previously needed architects to steer long, expensive IT projects to make sure they were successful, they now need them to dynamically match up business processes, organisation and data to ensure the business is ready and able to adapt to the fast pace of technology change.
Architects should look to shift their focus, concentrating on business outputs first. This can be done by moving from a bottom up, infrastructure driven model, to a top down, customer & business driven model. In the future architects should be seen as the experts, who are able to quickly analyse the impact of business ideas and changes in customer behaviours to uncover the impacts on the business and design solutions to make sure this is a success.
Fig 1. illustrates how architects can refocus on customer outcomes; using their architect skillset and working with the business to assess: customer needs, the impact on teams and people, process implications and underpinning data that is required, before looking at what tech solutions are available. To make this future vision a reality will require flexibility on the part of architects and the business, but architects should make the first move; throwing away the ‘IT rulebook’ and embedding themselves within the business areas. This will enable them to developing strong relationships with stakeholders and start working with them to unleash the potential of technology change.