IT Spend Forecast to Increase: But Will Vendor & Intra-Enterprise Collaboration Follow Suit?

Yesterday's WSJ reported Gartner's latest projections for IT spend in 2010 and beyond. Specifically "Software spending is expected to rise 5.1% to $232 billion, with the majority of enterprise software markets seeing growth ... [and] Enterprise hardware spending will also grow, but is expected to remain below 2008 levels through 2014 ... [while] Global IT services is expected to rise 5.7% to $821 billion." And perhaps most interesting is Gartner's projection that "The hottest software segments through 2014 are expected to include virtualization, security, data integration/data quality and business intelligence."

Data integration/data quality and business intelligence certainly strike major chords on these virtual pages. But as corporations rebound and increase their IT budgets, will they concurrently increase their focus on horizontal and vertical utility of these investments within their management structure and demand that their vendors do the same? McKinsey Quarterly's April edition, in an article titled Why business needs should shape IT architecture, provides a great deal of insight into to why doing so is more important than ever before.

In articulating this decades old challenge the column states that "Too often, efforts to fix architecture issues remain rooted in a company's IT practices, culture, and leadership. The reason, in part, is that the chief architect -- the overall IT-architecture program leader -- is frequently selected from within the technical ranks, bringing deep IT know-how but little direct experience or influence in leading a business-wide change program. A weak linkage to the business creates a void that limits the quality of the resulting IT architecture and the organization's ability to enforce and sustain the benefits of implementation over time." The article goes on to claim "A new [emphasis added] approach to EAM [Enterprise Architecture Management] lifts such change programs out of the exclusive preserve of the IT department and places them more squarely within the business. It starts with an effort to define the architectural design in a language the business can understand, with outcomes that serve its needs more fully and efficiently, thus improving communication and helping the business and IT leadership to collaborate in developing the IT architecture." They also provide a summary sidebar; "Revolutionizing architecture management: A CIO checklist" to help place " ... ownership in the hands of the end users -- the business professionals -- and therefore makes it easier for the required changes to stick and improve overall governance."

Many aspects of this "new approach" have been discussed and taught for decades in B-School curricula. But because integrating these collaborative concepts into most corporate cultures remains a daunting task, the challenge not only remains fresh – it's essential. To wit, McKinsey claims "Companies that have taken this approach to EAM have lowered their need for architecture-development labor by as much as 30 percent and reduced times to market for new applications by 50 percent."

William Busch

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