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Evolutionary Application Development

I was reading the Harvard Business Review article on Radically Simple IT (March 2008) by David M Upton and Bradley R Staats.  I was just thinking how application development should evolve if it has to support growing demands of the business.

As pointed out in the article, big implementations do become obsolete by the time they get implemented or they cannot continuously adjust themselves to the latest business realities. The obsolescence starts they day they ‘GO LIVE’ (land in Production).

Given the realities, Time to Develop (TTD) and Time to Land (TTL) are the metrics by which application developments’ effectiveness has to be measured in the coming days in addition to the value they deliver.

Not only we should just measure the value they deliver currently but also potential value they can deliver for every incremental investment that a customer makes in enhancing the application with additional functionality. The Marginal benefit should outweigh the marginal investment that customer makes in enhancing the application.

This throws up few more interesting points like, then is the application modular, scalable, adjustable and adaptable.

SOA could probably take us there, but maturity in the eco-system will reveal whether SOA is delivering the value it promises. Realistically speaking, we may hit limitations and constraints in terms of scalability to meet the ever changing business reality. But the question for application developers and solution consultants is, ‘Are the applications/solutions scalable in the near future. Can they evolve to suit the emerging Business Realities? Can I drop a functionality/feature and adopt another one,  on the basic function set?

Hence delivering ‘Information’ becomes more pertinent than ‘Technology’ for the IT shops and IT departments of all the enterprises. If so, the fundamental mind shift from being Technology centric to being Business Centric has to happen.

If we agree that delivering Information is the prime purpose of the existence of all application development vendors and the development community, then we should quickly transform ourselves from Technologists who develop technologies and implement technologies TO consultants who understand business, provide business solutions, develop applications that not only meet demands of business today, but also the near future demands of the business.

SAP is also helping the development community thru this transformation by developing and providing more and more tools that are easy to use, configure and compose rather than DEVELOP and hence providing more and more of ‘mind’ time for developers to think business (aka information) rather than technology.

With the advent of SOA and BPM, the erstwhile SAP developer needs to quickly transform into providing solutions using the toolsets that SAP offers and quickly provide solutions that are scalable and modular.

Then we as development community have not just delivered value for today’s business needs, but also business value that IT and SOA can deliver in future

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