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Live from Gartner Symposium ITxpo - AD Overview: Assembling, Buying and Constructing—The ABCs of Delivering Software Solutions

I am attending Gartner Symposium and ITxpo this week and blogging as I go.

Dale Vecchio and Matt Hotle presented an AD Overview: Assembling, Buying and Constructing—The ABCs of Delivering Software Solutions

Often the key question customers ask is "how do I move forward from my current application portfolio?" The future of Application Development is not about programmer productivity but about assembling software solutions - programming is a decreasing proportion. We are not going to replace the current generation of systems with new versions of custom systems built from scratch.

I really liked one of their intro comments about focusing on assembling, buying, constructing.

"Can't code your way into the future"

I have discussed build or buy or both in the context of decisioning and the fact that if only 5% of application logic is unique, is it all decisioning? and completely agree with this comment. Don't just code it.

Their conclusions included taking skills issues seriously, realize this is a big shift, think carefully about reuse and take a BPM approach to manage all this. I agree with them and have to say that I think for most organizations that a decisioning platform and a focus on enterprise decision management would help too.

BTW Fair Isaac is at booth 305 and I am presenting at 12:15 on Wednesday on Real-World Experience in Applying Business Intelligence to Business Processes

Some specific thoughts from Dale and Matt that caught my eye.

  • One of the first issues is going to be around governance. In application development, governance includes project and portfolio management (where to spend), application portfolio management (what to do with what you have) and software process architecture. Built on a framework of Enterprise Architecture.
  • Dale and Matt predicate that organization does not matter, what matters is clear definition.
  • Application portfolio management is about taking control of the set of applications to become more agile. One of the steps shown was to extract business logic from legacy applications as services. I have discussed legacy modernization with rules
  • Emphasized that business and IT alignment is now and has been key for many years in CIO survey. I have blogged about the power of rules to help in this before.
  • Generational shift in skills in an organization is a big issue in IT as it is elsewhere in the organization. What happens when these folks retire? Can you still manage these legacy applications?
  • Impact analysis and location of reusable assets will be key in SOA - in rules too
  • Business process management will be a key skill and Matt noted the word "business" in that and emphasized the business skills needed. Likewise note that business rules has the same "b-word".
  • Matt mapped goals to a value metric as process improvements must deliver some value. Although he classed all the goals as Business Process Management goals many of his examples were decisioning ones - clearly Gartner lumps decisioning into process management which is a pity.
  • In the component assembly piece, Dale had a number of example components that were rules-based. Really these were decisioning components as clearly you could use predictive analytics to improve some of these.
  • Dale emphasized that the Internet is now very prevalent and can be relied on. This makes a change to when and how you get access to services. The need for services for your business to use is there and as companies deliver these services you will need to be able to use new approaches to assemble services into composite applications.
  • Agile came up and Matt made a comment that Agile is both reliant on business buy-in and business participation. He also made it clear that moving to these kind of new approaches requires both a motivation for change and well defined objectives / changes needed.
  • Defined the business process platform as a way to deliver more rapid and controlled process change. I have written about Gartner's view of agility before and the differences between process and decision agility. Clearly a strong decisioning platform should be part of what Gartner is calling a Business Process Platform.
  • The need to detect events and respond to them came up too - EDM is a great way to build responses to events, by the way.
  • Defined business process management suites and this clearly involves a business rules engine. Sadly of course, most current BPMS do not include a properly integrated one. I think a typical BPMS purchased today does not meet Gartner's definition and needs a rules environment also.
  • They went on to map the BPMS into the organization and process. Need for the business analyst to reappear was a big issue - there are the "purple people" Brian Stucky discussed.
  • Lovely use of an old Italian saying about the three ways to make money - "inherit it, marry it or steal it". Same three ways to get business logic - inherit legacy, marry an enterprise application and steal it by reusing. Emphasized how important it is to extract the right pieces of my legacy applications to make services. I think this is an area where legacy modernization with rules makes a big difference.
  • Matt discussed the challenges of reuse. This is an interesting area as many people have noted. Enterprise re-use programs have failed before so be careful. It is a major change effort but you will also need an inventory, repository, standards, QA, measurement, performance incentives, methodology for reuse etc.
  • Service-Oriented Development Approach (SODA) has 3 Rs
    • Reuse
    • Responsiveness (code less, spend less time)
    • Reliability (less new code, less risk)

Nice, if very fast, overview.

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