Analysts have warned that suppliers are painting a rosy view of the 'adaptive, on-demand or N1' enterprise.
Meta Group's Asia Pacific research director Kevin McIsaac urged caution over supplier interpretations of what an adaptive enterprise means.
"Things will become more modular and IT will move away from integrated applications to components and service-oriented architectures. The service-oriented architecture is going to be a key part of being adaptive," he said.
While the first phase of an adaptive approach to IT was with standards-based hardware, McIsaac said the next phase is services.
"Services will go right to the highest level of business, for example, payroll," he said. Enterprises need to understand where the needs for fixed and variable assets are. This includes hardware, software and people."
Meta's executive vice-president Karen Rubenstrunk said IT must move towards service-oriented architecture if the promised benefits of an adaptive enterprise are to be realised.
"Chief information officers are not chief process operators and the CIO is the one person that has an enterprise-wide view to understand the business changes," Rubenstrunk said. "Virtualisation and grid technologies allow IT organisations to manage resources on demand and by 2010, 34% to 40% of IT resources will be on variable pricing contracts."
Rubenstrunk added that adaptive enterprises look at retirement and reuse, and also focus on a highly streamlined infrastructure.
"How fast you can go will depend on how much risk your organisation can handle. Define a scope of organisational principles, strategic planning, governance and project planning, and enterprise architecture."
Rubenstrunk cited "concurrent engineering" in the automotive industry as an example of the break up of components into standards-based pieces which are developed in parallel, thereby driving more value in the market.
"We're two to three years out but the faster the standards come the faster we can take advantage of them," she said. "Developing the will to be adaptive involves looking at value, relationships, leadership, governance, change management and execution."
Rodney Gedda writes for Computerworld Today