‘Shadow IT‘ is a term used to describe information systems and solutions built and used inside organisations without explicit organisational approval. Cloud services, mobility and ‘Bring Your Own Device’ are driving an explosion in Shadow IT. Shadow IT, like shadow finance and shadow economy suggests noncompliance and illegality. Unlike the black market, shadow technology notionally unleashes immediate benefits but harbours a latent potential to damage its host. Quantifying the risk, and getting sufficient attention to do something about it, is the issue.
Technology departments have tried to ‘reign in’ these rogues using the frameworks and processes of Enterprise Architecture, without much success. One reason for the partial failure is that Enterprise Architects have a propensity to focus on risk management, standards compliance and centralised governance. This narrow ‘old-school’ focus locks them to the core, not the edge of the business where innovation happens. Meanwhile, the business units, driven by digital demand and unaided by their IT counterparts, have initiated their own innovation platforms. That’s the line taken by Dean Gardiner from Dell Australia in his paper at the Australian Enterprise Architecture Conference (Sydney, October 2015).
Every business case for a new IT system must identify and argue for resulting benefits. Benefits management is a well-established competency for ensuring benefits are identified, quantified, tracked and realised. Realised benefits justify the initial investment. Victoria’s State Treasury, which funds some very large IT projects, including a number that have gone off the rails has started providing much-needed guidance on identifying and planning for anticipated system benefits. In light of continuing problems with large public sector IT projects (Queensland Health payroll system, Victoria’s licensing system) this is important capability-building.
Enterprise software vendors would have us believe that enterprises are flocking to The Cloud, meaning they are subscribing to remotely hosted utility systems and services rather than licensing and hosting them on premise. The oft-claimed benefits are efficiency (only pay for what you use), simplicity (no more on-premise software) and agility (the software utility can be configured at any time to release new capabilities).
Illustrator’s answer to the question ‘what is enterprise architecture?’
To crowd-source ideas for his next session at Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture Forum, Principal Analyst and blogger Jeff Scott indulged in the age-old ‘What is Enterprise Architecture?’ debate. Definition debates have been aired in online forums so many times it’s a wonder anyone bothers to post, but each time a new crop of wannabes pop up to trot out the same semantic debates. Not so this time. To Jeff’s credit, his post pulled 3 recommendations and 14 comments, significant not so much numerically but for who responded and the thoughtfulness of the respondents.