Integration Intervention: The Moment Unmovable Was Unacceptablepost by Chris Curran on June 18, 2015
Guest post by Glen Hobbs
Setbacks often inspire soul searching. For one of my clients, the disappointment was losing first mover advantage in an emerging Asian market. They needed to rapidly roll out new product configurations and pricing models. But, the IT department projected the company would miss the window of opportunity by months. The blow prompted my client to pose provocative questions they wanted my help to answer. What is holding us back? Is it our people or our systems or a combination of both? How long can we afford to innovate at the cadence of crawl? We evaluated the client’s environment and here’s a brief assessment of what we found:
- On the surface, it was a simple change – just needed to define a new product bundle, business rules and currency for the new country.
- However, the enterprise was riddled with redundant, overlapping systems that had morphed into a monstrosity of technical bloat over many years.
- These seemingly simple business rules were coded into these underlying systems, which only IT could modify.
- To do so, numerous technical and organizational “interlocks” had to be identified and navigated – the company was entangled, not integrated. Making one change could have a ripple effect that would trigger necessary changes across multiple other systems. So before any move was made, IT had to diligently identify and negotiate changes with business departments to make sure dependencies were understood and resolved. This translated into 7+ months of work, while the competition were able to do it in 3-4 months.
- Furthermore, the company was spending more than $50 million to maintain an imprisoning infrastructure that included dozens of integration platforms.
The heart of the matter was the organization had become unmovable, which was unacceptable to senior leadership. Reducing costs was important to them, but the need for speed was far more critical in a business environment where digital disruptors are lurking and light on their feet. The client was determined to foster the freedom of movement to facilitate innovation. Like a finger point to the moon, the organization made a commitment to radically revise its approach to enterprise integration. Here’s a proposed before and after picture.
In the next post of this series on enterprise integration, we’ll discuss how this client can reach their desired goals by creating an “integration fabric,” which entails:
1) Extracting and centralizing business rules to enable business users to make changes themselves.
2) Placing a priority on integrating business processes, eliminating the fragmented handoffs and increasing automation to cultivate seamless integration.
3) Streamlining and simplifying the message flow between systems so end users experience consistency.
4) Deploying intelligent tools to enable configuring rather than constant coding and integrations to be done via visual drag and drop.
5) Integrating master data across the enterprise so that all systems are using the same “source of truth” to see the same 360-degree view of the customer.
6) Transforming the IT organization to meet the needs of the digital age. (PwC’s New IT Platform)
This company has a long journey ahead, but they have made the first and most important step of deciding that enough is enough and a better approach to enterprise integration is required.
(This post is the second in a series on the past, present and future of enterprise integration. To explore the first post, click here.)
Image shared by Sten Dueland