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Business Architecture (5): big picture and roadmap

The previous contributions of this series discuss likeness, ERP + industrialization, BPR and lean organizations, business network transformation. I like to draw some conclusions here.

The commercial use of IT equipment within industries, targeting from an optimization of data administration towards building predictive (forecast) systems, some of these  industries went ahead (and got the trendsetters) and others were the followers. In future these roles might be exchanged from one level of industrialization to the next one. The mental change was very impressive as well. Most of the market participants claimed their modern architecture in the past, to get suddenly surprised (overnight) by unexpected new market participants, delivery new advanced methodology, or aggressive pricing.

All the changes along the industrialization process of IT within industries were somehow influenced by scaling, due to globalization or to the increased impact of consumer demand. If any feeling of exclusivity might be existent, it will last only for a certain period in time and only for some offerings. To become exclusive is easy compared to the “remain exclusive”. This applies for all business strategies implemented for different products and services in a variety of models; IT has and will remain a crucial role. Whether this means: “IT determines business” or “business drives IT” is nowadays more an artificial discussion. The IT and the business have to collaborate as equally valued business partners.

The discussion about “product features being part of IT procedures” is for most of the industries already resolved. With the implementation of the different ERP packages most of the industries “agreed” on the set of common standards. This automatically indicates the deletion of the statement “IT assures competitive advantages and is, by itself, a competitive differentiator”. The projection of this awareness from the ERP domain along of BPR, BPM, towards networks and business architecture platforms, has already determined the platform strategy for most of the industries. The platform is a collection of standards, with the industry flavors on top.

Due to globalization and the integrated (near-time) business between different industries, changes in business processes as well as new business scenarios will become “state of the art”. The borders between industries will disappear. Competency determines the permission to do business, not the historical roots. As a logical consequence of any architecture this means uniformity in the building components. Otherwise inter-industry is affected by the weakest platform (the most restricted scope and incompatibilities in the fundamental design). With these considerations, the modern, standard software packages are considered in a similar way as custom built and legacy applications. Overall this means: the knowledge and expertise to build business platforms is exchangeable across all industries. The denominator of common sense and expertise is large.

Especially in industries like financial services IT resources are in bottleneck situations. They have to be the architects and constructors of the new landscape, but they have the organizational and industry-specific expertise as well. On top they have to manage the custom-built and legacy applications as well. Using a collaborative business network where IT feature stack and industry expertise might be complementing forces, the pace of transformation could be considerably high. This statement is regarding IT feature stack.

People and organizations need to be trained and transformed as well. From this perspective any company should reflect on its current stand, its capabilities to move and to expand. Evident, not all representatives can play the universal, global role. We know as well that “one fits all” doesn’t work as well. To determine mid-term business strategy might become a target for business networks as well. Whether these networks contains regional representatives targeting to a global coverage, to save performance and cost, or have players from different industries, joining the same future business target, is in principle relevant for one or another business strategy.

This and similar approaches might drive emerging industries to achieve an industrialized IT business platform within shortest timeframes. The “cut-off of market segments” by new entrants can’t be a valuable business strategy for current market stakeholders.

Considering current localization restrictions build by languages, cultures, ethics, etc. it might take still some time to get consumers of servicing industries in the same role as nowadays in retail, automotive and other industries.

After all: history might be recurrent, but not per definition in the same way.

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