The CIOs of today’s digital enterprises attempt to find solutions for many of the pain areas of IT. It could be many such as return of investment, value creation for internal and external customers, assets usage, cost transparency, contracts renewal and management. The key is to look at the IT value chain in an integrated manner. This can be done through adoption of IT4IT Reference Architecture framework. Information, service, functional and integration models are used to look at IT holistically from a business standpoint. It prescribes a guideline when rigorously applied would enable the transformation of IT from a cost centric mode of operations to a viable unit of business.
In today’s digital enterprise, the complexity and pace of change is mind boggling. Digital disruptions in the form of cloud, software defined everything, API economy and bi-modal IT has significantly transformed the very business model of IT. It has led to customer demand for continuous value creation through innovative and IP driven products and services. This fact shows that the global trend in IT services industry is shifting from operations and support centric cost center mode to a catalyst for continuous value generation and growth both for the client and service provider ecosystem.
IT4IT Reference Architecture is a vendor and technology neutral IT management framework which looks at the IT value chain activities in an integrated manner. It prescribes a framework that uses data, functional, service and integration models to create value through the service portfolio across its entire lifecycle. It cuts overhead costs, reduces redundancies in process and tools as well as provides business insights for the management.
IT4IT Reference Architecture
Based on Michael Porter’s Value Chain Concept, the IT4IT identifies four core areas of activities that if well managed would result in optimization and value for the IT business. The four core areas cover the stages of planning, building and running the IT services. The four value streams are Strategy2Portfolio, Requirement2Deploy, Request2Fulfill and Detect2Correct. To orchestrate the different activities across value streams leading to the desired business outcome/ target, there is a need to identify and model the functional, service (conceptual, logical and physical or realizable), information (data) and integration capabilities to attain the target state. These form the four essential pillars of the IT4IT Reference Architecture. In simple terms, functional model captures the technical / architectural capabilities that IT businesses should have.
Solution to CIO Pain Areas
The CIOs of today’s digital enterprises are engaged in finding solutions to returns on IT investments, creating value differentiators for customers, transparency on costs and linkage to the service usages and satisfaction levels. There are strategic level decisions such as forecasting demand for services portfolios, establishment of Enterprise Architecture and Governance to ensure seamless benefits realization. Tactical and Operational decisions that impact businesses comprise of optimization on sourcing and procurement cycles, contracts management with vendors and suppliers, annual maintenance contracts on HW and SW licenses, and consolidation of tools and applications. Some of the top CIO priorities according to Deloitte CIO Survey 2016-17 are innovation, cost and performance.
To overcome these pain areas, IT4IT Reference Architecture links the critical functional, service and data models across the IT value streams. It thereby is able to correlate the outcomes from different IT value stream activities with appropriate data and the underlying technical capabilities. There are 32 such key data objects which describe how services need to be created, consumed or disseminated across IT value chain. There are service models which describe what IT delivers to consumers. The IT4IT is a prescriptive framework which doesn’t leave the interpretations open ended left to imagination.
The IT4IT Reference Architecture stands out with respect to other contemporary IT management frameworks or reference architectures in several ways. These are elaborated as below.
- No framework except IT4IT Reference Architecture covers the entire value chain and provides common vocabulary and approach to IT management.
- No single overarching IT management framework can blend multiple best practices that can be adopted for decision making and value delivery as its core principle
- Provides listing of all key and supporting components across IT value chain which if managed well would result in significant cost savings on overall IT cost
- Provides control levers to manage IT risks and disruptions
- Provides standards on Cost Charge Backs and Show Backs
- It is independent of vendor or technology and is process agnostic. It can be used in the context of bi-modal IT
How Can It Be Adopted?
Enterprises can start their IT4IT journey with current state assessment of business capabilities, processes, IT assets and tools, cost of delivery and quality of services delivered. IT4IT Reference Architectures can be used to identify gaps with respect to current state. Use the information, functional and service models prescribed in the IT4IT Reference Architecture to achieve desired Business target state. This can be done by identifying KPIs and other metrics that need to be captured across the value chain activities. The organizations can then use the traceability data across the IT value streams to determine and predict business outcomes in line with the desired target state.