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Analysis / Enterprise

Rising To The Challenge Of Modern Systems

With new technologies springing up at a prodigious rate, IT managers are under increasing pressure to satisfy growing demands. In fact, instead of helping, modernisation can pose a massive problem for business IT. How can companies keep on top of new developments while ensuring their existing infrastructure runs smoothly? Jim Close, Country Manager of Software AG, explains how businesses can modernise IT and immediately improve business processes.

IT can seem like a relentless uphill struggle at times―feeling more like you are a hamster on a wheel which turns ever faster the harder you run. The more capabilities your team has, the more your users come to expect. Conducting business operations manually in the modern market is unthinkable―so why the constant complaints about IT being expensive and slow to change? Do users not remember the time before email, order systems, Internet and automation? Perhaps business IT has taken too much of a lead from home computing. There, if you want the latest gizmo, you can simply throw away the old one. Sadly, in business, it’s not so simple.

The main problem for businesses is that after years of buying and developing multiple systems, they have a spaghetti-style mix of applications―some of which are resistant to change. The consequences of this are all too familiar: business processes can break down leading to weakened customer service, profits and even innovation. As accessibility becomes a major issue, IT managers are faced with a choice of modernising old equipment or getting rid of it altogether.

The manufacturing industry faced similar problems of disjointed applications and associated inaccessibility nearly a century ago. Henry Ford created the first integrated production line, whose granular and repeatable tasks cut car production from 14 to just two man-hours. In short, the components were the same but the processes were different―and manufacturing continues to lead the way, with Six Sigma and Lean principles becoming commonplace.

So how has the IT market responded to modernisation and demand thus far? With new software of course. Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) abound, and are heavily marketed around the principles of the Six Sigma. But results from BPMS can be mixed, and many failures lurk behind the success stories. While excellent in theory, without the knowledge, rules and systems that have come up from decades of IT expertise, new management systems are liable to fail.

So what should companies do once they have invested in business management technology? The key to success lies in modernisation―opening up existing systems and ensuring that BPMS technology can cope with the challenge of existing infrastructures. BPMS can actually add to system complexity unless it is tightly coupled with existing technology. In time, BPMS and SOA companies will come together―and those that can’t do both may struggle to survive.

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years’ publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.