Managing in the era of disposable apps: things they didn't teach you in college

Enter the era of IT service broker, whose role is to 'integrate internal and external services together to form composite services.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Apps -- or applications -- now get installed and uninstalled at the blink of an eye. The value is no longer in the applications themselves, but what they provide to the business. And that's where IT leaders need to focus their efforts.

Photo: HubSpot

That's the gist of a recent post from CA's Robert Stroud, who recently conducted a webcast on the topic with George Spalding of Pink Elephant.

With the growth of mobility, cloud computing and social collaboration, service models are rapidly being defined, "reducing the time between change from weeks or months to minutes," he points out. "We have a society of disposable apps. I for one install an app, and if it is not intuitive or quickly and easily deliver value, I instantly delete it. This is having a real impact on IT organizations."

For starters, IT needs to worry less about applications and code, and more about what it means for the business. In the process, IT leaders are moving away from managing code and networks, and taking on roles as IT service brokers. That is, IT leaders will be bringing in solutions from both outside and inside their organizations to address business challenges and opportunities. The new role of IT is to "integrate internal and external services together to form composite services rather than building their services internally," Stroud points out.

This requires new skills in the IT realm, such as business strategy execution, design, governance and compliance requirements, Stroud says.  "No longer is the internal IT function the only direct supplier of all capabilities," he says. "As an IT service broker, the internal organization will look more like a contractor who sources services, either internally or externally, based on whatever best meets the requirements and specifications."

There are emerging tools and platforms, of course. "The use of API integration allows service brokers to quickly integrate the components," Stroud notes. However, as we all know from experience, technology alone will not magically address these challenges. Along with strategic business skills, IT departments will assume roles in alternative solution research, planning, procurement, sourcing, integration, and negotiation.

The negotiation area is particularly important. Enterprises will need to maintain ongoing relationships with solutions vendors, as they may be depending on them to be up and running and always available 24x7 -- versus the occasional updates and new release cycles of the past. IT leaders will be looked upon as the connection to the vendor, and need to be able to hold their feet to the fire when things don't go right.

Sourcing skills is another emerging area of expertise. "The broker will assess and provide recommendations faster and at a lower cost than traditional sourcing processes," says Stroud. "Being able to access the market in general and enforce competition between suppliers provides latitude for selecting solutions that are leveraging modern technology with favorable business terms."

Stroud relates how one financial services company's IT department is successfully assuming the new role of IT service broker:

"Once the organization determines a business need, the business, enterprise architects and broker team work together to identify components to deliver the corresponding service solution. That service is assembled like a discreet manufacturing production process and then delivered for service validation, user acceptance and then production. Once the solution is delivered to the operations team the SLA components are delivered, along with user interface requirements and escalation processes."

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