Applications and the Ticking Time Bomb

Applications and the Ticking Time Bomb

No, it’s not Y2K all over again. But as organizations increasingly eschew custom-developed software in favour of commercial packaged applications, is their quest for standardization and simplicity in fact tethering the very flexibility they so desire?

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The IT function may mostly be preoccupied with infrastructure, the delivery of IT services and general IT management, but in reality all these activities are about delivering support for the enterprise applications that continue to be the primary vehicle for delivering business functionality.

However, now there are signs the best efforts of CIOs and their teams may not be enough to defuse the application time bomb waiting to explode in many of their faces, analysts say.

Organizations undertook the slow shift from custom-developed software towards commercial packaged applications on the promise of standardized functionality, reduced complexity and the passing off of most applications to third parties. These benefits are all well and good in theory, but in practice standardization is a myth and the still monolithic nature of many of these systems leaves organizations stranded atop an explosive situation that threatens the very flexibility they are trying to achieve, according to observers.

Despite the major commitment of resources required just to keep applications running, few organizations drill down deeper to identify if there are any areas that are going astray in order to bring them back to the straight and narrow

UK-based Butler Group research director Tim Jennings says the nature of this time bomb is twofold: first, the myth of standardization adds considerably to the maintenance burden that falls on the application owner, rather than on the vendor; and second, the still monolithic nature of many of these systems makes it difficult to keep the application in step with business objectives over time. "Worse still, both these factors contribute to a vicious circle. There is a serious inertia in the ability to upgrade the software and to evolve the functionality to meet future business requirements, with the consequence that further customization is carried out, exacerbating the original problem," Jennings says.

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