Brave New World for Applications: Is it IT + LOB, or IT vs. LOB?
September 10th, 2013 By: Industry Perspectives
Pauline Nist is GM Enterprise Software Strategy at Intel Corporation.PAULINE NIST
At a recent tech conference, I got to sit on two distinct panels. The first was focused on how business could use analytics (Hadoop) to derive critical insights that drove business impact. The second was on how IT could leverage Hadoop to derive a more complete picture, and analysis of their data.
I was intrigued as to how many people would attend both sessions, how the questions would vary, but mostly I was amazed that there were two different panel discussions. After all, shouldn’t IT AND Business be working together? That’s not a rhetorical question. Rather I think it is an indication of a major shift taking place in corporations today. There is a key enabler behind this and it’s the public cloud. When you can start experimenting with Amazon Web services for free, who doesn’t want to try it?
Cloud: Enemy or Enabler?
I have heard IT managers half seriously suggest that their corporations shut down the use of corporate credit cards to pay for cloud usage. They see it as a way to get control over data and security issues. But I would argue that’s the least of their problems. The challenge is that Lines of Business (LOBs) aren’t always getting timely responsive solutions out of IT, so they are hiring developers and data analysts and doing the work themselves. The credit card purchase at AWS is the end point, not the beginning.
Even Gartner is predicting that by 2014 at least 25 percent of new business applications will be built by end users. As Gartner suggests, IT will be better served if it acknowledges this trend, and manages the risks by educating and supporting programs that create a safe environment for end user applications developers. I must admit that I’m not seeing a lot of such support happening.
Attracted to Hadoop
Additionally, I see Hadoop as a real temptation, which encourages many LOBs to connect with one of the companies providing a Hadoop distribution, and then starting a project. In fact, one of my fellow panelists (from one of the Hadoop distro companies) at the aforementioned conference, said that he told his sales guys to only talk to the LOBs and not IT! (though not quite as politely as I have paraphrased it!).
This is an age old trend. Users want the compute cycles and control of the apps. It gave rise to minicomputers, Unix workstations, PCs, Client/Server, and now the Cloud. IT would be wise to support the process not ignore it.
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Scott HumblePosted September 10th, 2013
I couldn’t agree more with your analysis. Unfortunately, by circumventing IT, business will often expose the organization to the risk associated with a vendor support mechanism that may not be in the best interest for the business at large. The vendor is all too happy to take their money regardless of whether they meet industry compliance standards for security and data compliance including everything from retention to access. Integrating applications into a business is a significant endeavor. Off the shelf and under the table applications that a business adopts without engaging with IT is not only hazardous but it limits the ability for the organization to leverage economies’ of scale and in the end, it impacts the bottom line and it reduces productivity and interoperability.
Conversely, IT MUST acknowledge the reality that the business may only be taking this kind of action because of the perception that they can self manage information systems better than IT can. If that is the case, IT is in a very precarious situation and closing the loop will be VERY difficult. It takes years of perceived neglect for most organizations to resort to self solutioning.
Sadly, my experience suggests that this is COMMON. It is such a tangled web that it can take years to unravel an application that was never fully rationalized into an environment. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to give an organization the bad news about how a single application can delay a tactical project schedule and have an adverse effect on an organizational strategy. More often than not, it is because an application was loosely adopted through a third party that IT turned a blind eye to. The amount and criticality of data that is floating around the average enterprise without any real oversight is still somewhat shocking to me. The fact that IT doesn’t see this as symptomatic for a disconnect that exists between them and the business is a travesty.
Bottom line – one of the best things that IT can do is to actively begin to survey the business both for service level agreement compliance but also as a solutions partner to begin to understand the full gravity of the situation and develop a plan and to address it. You CAN FIX IT but it is really difficult to say the least.