“One of the most unfortunate side effects of the revolution in desktop computing technology… has been the backlash against anything related to long-term planning.” (Steven L. Shaffer, Transition to open systems, 1996)
We are living in wake of this side effect, an era of great enterprise debt. It is like a sea all around us. Our businesses show it, our local authorities show it, Wall Street shows it; our infrastructure paychecks, and children’s education show it. This sea of enterprise debt has large swells caused by the rapid growth and sprawl of IT at a consumer level. There is a large economic undertow that points to our co-dependency on technology with a denial of our loss of life independent of technology. All this under a low pressure system and jet stream of change in global intelligence, market and tech-tonic shifts.
Okay, that is a bit extreme, but the point needs to be made that the cost of leaving inefficient things running, operating with old processes, and leveraging debt beyond the tipping point is very high. Enterprise debt occurs when we cut corners and do 80% of the right thing. Eventually those corners we have cut amount to insurmountable trials. Let me give you three:
1. Sinking ship: Hole in our profit margin.
While we continue sales, the lack of effectiveness begins to and eventually washes away our profit margin. To gain these profits, expenses continue to grow. Profits may be rising but the cost of those profits is reaching the point at which we will not be able to produce the profits. Unnoticed, that hole in our profit margin will produce a sinking ship. Sinking ship unnoticed and the ship is forced from commission or simply sinks.
2. Starboard engine out: Legacy systems out of gas
Another huge issue is leaving aging IT solutions in place past their life expectancy, and even beyond their contribution to efficiency of the organization. On these ships, large quantities of mussels attach themselves to the hull in the way of work-arounds, patches, interfaces, dozens of small applications, and large amounts of data redundancy without business intelligence and metrics.
3. Adrift: Compass has no vision
With mission in tow, the organization simply holds on to dashboard and key performance indicators like: still afloat, still a ship, haven’t lost the crew, and we can still hold more cargo. However, when it comes to moving forward in the new culture, economics, and regulations, the ship cannot move. It doesn’t know where to go.
So what is the answer to mounting levels of enterprise debt, growing complexity, and high levels of volatility?
The application of architecture to the growing enterprise problems may be the only solution. The fact is: “What has got organizations where they are now, will not be sufficient to take them where they need to go.” And even more importantly, over time “What has got organizations where they are now, will not be sufficient to even allow them to survive.”
Organizations will have to stop pursuing quick wins and low-hanging fruit because they will not be sufficient to reveal and remove hidden Architectural Debt. In time, organization complexity and volatility will continue to grow unless a pragmatic enterprise transformation process is adopted.
In other words, the sea will win, and the USS Enterprise will have to be taken out of service or sink.
The solution: Pragmatic EA, powered by Elyon Enterprise Strategies, Inc.