Research group Gartner used its Spring Symposium in Florence this week to emphasise the need for IT directors to adopt an evolutionary approach to the delivery of the "real-time" enterprise.
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Delivery of the real-time enterprise has, for months, been a major theme of the research group. In Florence, Gartner insisted that the technology needed to deliver the real-time projects already existed and, in many IT organisations, so did the skills.
“If you have developers building web services today, they are already doing real-time enterprise,” said Gartner vice president for research Betsy Burton.
The challenge for IT directors, she added, was to funnel that energy that exists within IT departments to make smarter use of the technology that is already available. “Why not use the data warehouse you already own to deliver the real-time enterprise?” Burton suggested.
Burton also called for CIOs to make better use of mobile systems by integrating them within enterprise applications, “so that you can deliver information to the key decision makers when they need it, at the moment they need it".
Dario Scagliotti, chief information officer of Pirelli, spoke of the challenges in creating a real-time enterprise in commodity business such as tyre manufacture.
He outlined a MySAP project, which had provided Pirelli’s extended supply chain business partners with a portal to access business information. “Our business managers wanted to create as extended supply chain with our dealers, suppliers to provide real-time visibility of customer demand.”
The internal culture within Pirelli made progress to real time very slow, said Scagliotti. However, the IT team, backed by the vision of top line management, were able to act as a catalyst for change.
“We put in place a very focused investment to drive faster access to information as and when it made sense," said Scagliotti. "We were very careful investors in the extended supply chain.”
This diligence paid off, and in 2003 Pirelli will be investing 10% more on this project than in 2002, he added.
Peter Scheidt, a vice president at Danske Bank, said his organisation tried to speed up its transformation to a real-time enterprise 15 months ago by moving its IT developers into business development units. “IT is only a tool to do business,” he noted.
The strategy was to create a service architecture to allow easy access to functionality contained within the bank’s various IT systems.
“We needed to offer the same functionality across various [customer] channels.” To achieve this, Scheidt said the bank built an architecture called the enterprise service bus to provide access to these systems through web services.
In the process, Danske Bank was able to dispel a common myth - that legacy IT systems could not cope as well as new architecture in the provision of web services.
“The functionality we have on the mainframe is just as efficient as the new applications we are building with WebSphere and Microsoft environments. It’s about exposing small pieces of functionality,” Scheidt said.