Accenture is urging CIOs to re-engineer application development to support digital disruption.
Experts across the industry have suggested that IT needs to run at two speeds, to support both traditional enterprise systems and agile development.
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In a recent interview with Computer Weekly, Dave Aron, distinguished analyst at Gartner, said: "2014 will be a year of dual goals: responding to ongoing needs for efficiency and growth, but also shifting to exploit a fundamentally different, digital paradigm. Ignoring either of these is not an option."
The reason is that the traditional approach to IT, based around a sophisticated IT enterprise architecture, can take years to implement, and cannot therefore keep pace with the changing demands of the business.
- Determine your ability to enable cloud and mobile apps against your existing service-oriented architecture (SOA), application programming interface (API) management, and platform as a service (PaaS) investments.
- Begin the design and architecture of an enterprise app store for the distribution of mobile and desktop applications.
- Start creating a list of enterprise-level apps to develop using cross-functional teams.
Source: Accenture Technology Vision 2014
Software is a core competency in a digital world, according to Accenture. In its Technology Vision 2014 report, the consulting firm noted: "Mimicking the shift in the consumer world, organisations are rapidly moving from enterprise applications to apps."
It said the mainstay of big, complex enterprise software systems will continue to support large organisations, and there will still be a need for developers to customise such systems.
But according to Accenture, large enterprises need to push for greater IT agility. "There is a sharp shift toward simpler, more modular, and more custom apps," the report stated.
The implications are significant for IT leaders and business leaders alike, Accenture warned in the report, claiming heads of IT will need to transform the nature of application development.
Under Accenture's vision of IT, back-end services such as datacentres and networks would remain under IT’s control, but in more and more organisations the lines would blur as the business takes a more active role in many aspects of front-end applications.
"Savvy IT leaders are deliberately partnering with the business side, not just to enable but to encourage them to take on some of these roles. Building these custom agile applications is becoming a hallmark of the new digital enterprise," the report noted.
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The architecture of systems would need to enable this separation. In the report, Accenture predicted middleware would be resurrected as a software platform to present data services for modular apps, which would work individually or together to perform a particular business function.
It said IT leaders should not strive for the holy grail of establishing a standard enterprise software platform. "There is no such thing. It’s not possible to use a single platform to handle every business requirement. And don’t assume that cloud will always be the answer either," the report stated.
Accenture urged IT leaders to appreciate that old school IT is changing. "IT has entered a new stage in which constant change is the new normal – one in which IT not only supports business applications but also enables the business to play a more active role in front-end apps," it stated.