Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lipstick on the iceberg - why the local view matters for IT evolution

There is a massive amount of IT hype that is focused on what people see, its about the agile delivery of interfaces, about reporting, visualisation and interactional models.  If you could weight hype then it is quite clear that 95% of all IT is about this area.  Its why we need development teams working hand-in-hand with the business, its why animations and visualisation are massively important.

But here is the thing.  SAP, IBM and Oracle have huge businesses built around the opposite of that, around large transactional elements, things that sit at the backend and actually do the running of the business.  Is procurement something that needs the fancy UI?  I've written before about why procurement is meant to be hated so no that isn't an area where the hype matters.

What about running a power grid? Controlling an aeroplane?  Traffic management? Sure these things have some level of user interaction and often its important that its slick and effective.  But what percentage of the effort is about the user interface?  Less than 5%.  The statistics out there will show that over 80% of spend is on legacy and even the new spend is mainly on transactional elements.

This is where taking a Business SOA view can help, it starts putting boundaries and value around those legacy areas to help you build new more dynamic solutions.  But here is a bit of the dirty secret.

The business doesn't care that its a mess behind the scenes.... if you make it look pretty

Its a fact that people in IT appear regularly shocked at.  But again this is about the SOA Christmas, the business users care about what they interact with, about their view for their purposes. They don't care if its a mess for IT as long as you can deliver that view.

So in other words the hype has got it right, by putting Lipstick on the Iceberg and by hyping the Lipstick you are able to justify the wrapping and evolution of everything else.  Applying SOA approaches to Data is part of the way to enable that evolution and start delivering the local view.

The business doesn't care about the iceberg... as long as you make it look pretty for them. 

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