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Application Composition, Agile Development Rapidly Gaining Ground

Application composition is being used more as a way to stay ahead of the competition and to gain the greatest IT benefits from technological investments.

Information technology projects aren’t slowing down just because the economy tanked -- only IT budgets. Everywhere you turn, businesses are facing serious challenges that require a fresh look at how IT dollars are spent. In an era of frugal investments, the costs of maintaining legacy systems and using traditional business process management (BPM) techniques are being scrutinized, while new purchases are being put on hold or cancelled.

It’s no wonder, then, that legacy systems and traditional BPM processes are getting the once-over. Ancient processes are creating situations in which businesses simply can’t respond in an agile manner to competitive pressures and consumer demands. Need that product by Tuesday? Sorry -- we can’t get it to you until Thursday. It’s inefficiency at its worst in many cases, with the bottom line suffering the hardest hit.

It’s not just agility that’s missing in many organizations, either. Misplaced information creates productivity problems for businesses, too. If you’re spending time searching for information (Where is the file on Customer X? What’s the status?), you’re not selling your product or service, and you’re not generating the cash to pay bills.

Lack of visibility across an organization and its processes or the inability to manage compliance issues are additional business challenges. All too often, more than one system exists to accomplish a specific task, with information scattered throughout and processes disjointed and disconnected. Despite efforts to combat these issues through BPM techniques, value is often still missing, and users are typically left trying to fill the gaps that disparate applications created.

But these challenges don’t mean that you can’t implement case-based solutions that make smart business sense. The key lies in using technology effectively rather than allowing technology to dictate your processes -- and your bottom line.

Where IT Fits Into the Business

Although it’s tempting to simply relegate the IT department to the role of business support, it’s a mistake to do so. Used properly, IT departments can be far more than mere support: They can be key business partners who help the organization with strategy, agility, productivity, and more. As a business partner, IT can provide applications that are fast and simple to deploy; easy to modify, customize, and extend; and that align with current and future business needs.

As the 21st century dawned, so did the concept of sense and respond -- the ability to rapidly adapt to changing market conditions. The agility and customization required to successfully deploy this concept, however, is only possible through the use of technology. Humans, of course, need the ability to step in where required to monitor and analyze the changing market conditions, but it’s the platform underneath that allows for rapid decision-making and the case-by-case management of situations.

The partnership between business and IT needs to revolve around a technology platform that allows application deployment to be business led and IT governed. When IT is used in partnership mode, dynamic case management solutions can be created to help businesses in almost any industry. In the most successful situations, leveraging the platform through application composition is the key.

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