How the Cloud, Mobile Devices Affect Application Strategy

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When you build your own software, you have to pay for the hardware, development, deployment and support. "You're risking capital and hoping you get business value," he explains. "If you've written a check, you're going to ride that depreciation for a long time, whether you're getting business value or not."

But with SaaS and, he predicts, when Family Dollar starts using cloud computing, the risk to precious investment dollars can be lower. Provided your agreements with vendors are structured properly, Jewett says, "you can walk away if you're not getting business value."

Applications Everywhere A well-developed enterprise architecture reflects the integration, or lack thereof, between IT and business goals, says Betsy Burton, an analyst at Gartner. The architects can become a conduit between the technology group and business managers, she says. In so doing, a good architecture team will transcend a technology-focused mission, she says.

"You want the team to evolve the business to the future, which is more than setting down vendor standards," she says. "Organizations that do not drive all architectural decisions off of a clear understanding of business context and the future state of the company have an extremely difficult time demonstrating and delivering business value."

Smooth delivery of applications in new modes such as cloud and mobile serves as a proof point of the value of good enterprise architecture, says Matson's Cherukuri. "Enterprise architectures define technology and what the business does and how it does it," he says. "They also define our thought process about technology."

Burton agrees. Today, 60 percent to 70 percent of enterprise architecture chiefs report to the CIO. But she predicts that as architecture groups evolve to emphasize business-process expertise, they will become accountable to the chief operating officer.

Kappelman, the IT professor, expects a greater evolution. The big thoughts about the creative use of technology in a business context won't stay confined to IT or enterprise architecture, he says. He likens the change to the way " scientific management" emerged in the late 1800s. Then, efficiency experts were charged with making shop floors run better. Soon, precepts developed by those scientists proliferated, influencing the work habits of all employees, Kappelman says. Everyone strove for efficiency. Likewise, he predicts, "what we now call enterprise architecture will become part of how everyone functions."

Meanwhile, CIOs can leverage a strong enterprise architecture group to keep ahead of business demands by identifying application delivery needs. Ericksen embedded architects in each line of business, such as asset management, to absorb the nuances of shifting strategies and goals. These architects bring what they know of technology and what they learn about the business back to the development team to ensure applications are built and delivered in ways that best serve PNC as a whole.

The enterprise architecture team, he says, "has to be very rooted in business outcomes."

Read more about software as a service (saas) in CIO's Software as a Service (SaaS) Drilldown.

This story, "How the Cloud, Mobile Devices Affect Application Strategy" was originally published by CIO.

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