How significant is the IT Architecture for your business
Every organization, SMBs to Enterprises, relies upon their IT architecture for running the business, its workflows, planning, processes, policies, principles, operations, services, projects and to fulfill their obligation towards value proposition. It is not merely the data storage and management system, as existed till the late 80’s but incorporates the complete domain of business management as of now. Right from the aim, planning, policies and principles, the IT architecture starts to play a significant and profound role in the organization’s existence, operations and development.
Your IT architecture coordinates and interlinks the organization and its management functions by providing the platform, tools and interface for organizational foundation, functioning, administration, and development. It enforces the standards and regulations upon the processes and workflows to produce the desired outcome. It controls and regulates the functioning by providing tools and interface for monitoring, analyzing and decision making. It provides historical and statistical data with analytical tools for planning and implementation and at the same time providing resources for the expansion and development of the organization.
What is needed in the IT Architecture?
The below elements or components are crucial for the IT architecture:
- Back office
- Project execution
- Public interface
- Data management
There are many architecture implementation models adopted by various organizations. Some select a particular architecture after detailed studies and research while some architecture will evolve with time and experience. In any case, since IT architecture is the backbone and powering factor of the organizational realm, any discrepancies in the selection, configuration, implementation and management of the IT architecture will produce negative signs and side effects to the smooth functioning of the organization.
An IT architecture can be bad or the domain related synonyms as applicable to it, like non-scalable, outdated, redundant, inconsistent, unreliable, etc. depending upon the environment that demands from it. Whatever the technology be, if your IT architecture is just not suitable for your needs, it will start producing warning signs for your business.
What are the symptoms of a bad IT Architecture?
Frequent Malfunctioning and Increased Downtime
Is your IT staff busy running around departments responding to case reports and troubleshooting? Are there frequent system crashes and your staff is stuck with an abrupt system shutdown or crash? Or are they not getting the data and functionality they need for their duties? Obviously this is a clear and concise indication of an outdated or mis-configured IT architecture.
If the number of interfaces is not proportionate to data view and management requirements, it means you are forced to do the same action across different screens on the same data. You are wasting the operational time as well as computing resources. A poorly designed CRM or Finance Software can create this issue and it may be on a certain point of time that you have detected it. It indicates either lack of horizontal scalability or poor design patterns.
It depends upon the data and entity relationship design of your IT architecture that decides how much data redundancy you are experiencing either visible or invisible. Copying databases or data tables across departmental databases create extreme amount of data duplication and redundancy. If you HR could not find an interface to review the salary hike pattern of an employee through the synchronized but logically separated data views of the HR and Finance departments, it indicates that a data copy mechanism is in use to provide this data to the HR. This is a clear case of Data Redundancy and associated overheads in data synchronization, storage issues etc.
Lack of features and tools
Is your CRM not allowing or integrating with your Email Marketing Software to send marketing and other types of emails to your customers? Are you unable to export data in bulk? Is your DBA struggling with growing slow query log and underperforming database? Are you lacking a security system to filter your incoming and outgoing emails? Is your disk storage congesting with incremental backups? All these indicate that your IT architecture is hungry for additional functionality and capabilities. Ignoring this scarcity will be a huge road block between your business and its growth.
Organizations now depend heavily on networked (web based or LAN) applications for managing their customer relations, marketing, finance and accounts, communication, commerce, stock management, data management etc. When the integration of these applications is not done properly, or if they are not compatible with each other, it results in complex workflows. This complexity will be experienced in the form of multiple and redundant data processing tasks, lack of tools to process data, rigid and tedious procedures to apply when it comes to combine data from various departments etc. Employees will start feeling the overhead and unnecessary extra effort will be spent on otherwise easy processes. The main culprit here is an architecture that lacked proper planning and selection of compatible applications or failure to select a business software suite matching the organization’s requirements. Foreseeing the business and data growth also contributes to this complexity.
Communication and Collaboration bottlenecks
Communication is not only IMs, telephony, Voice/Video Conferences, but for the current world it extends to collaborative sharing of resources like files, media and even a code base. If you are facing issues with concurrent file editing, version control, task management, multiplexed resource sharing etc. then these are signs of your IT architecture lacking the most critical feature of Collaborative Sharing. Managers need to have multi-channels of inward and outward communication and broadcasting facilities to ensure processes and work-flows are executed flawlessly.
When you face a situation to purchase a costly hardware or software to add additional functionality to your IT architecture, it points to its weakness in scalability with cost-affordable commodity hardware. This is a prominent sign of your IT architecture needing a revamp. Additionally the consultation and human resources expenses starting from recruitment to salary and perks to manage highly proprietary application suite further complicates the issue.
Are you forced to be satisfied with what your IT architecture is offering and your requirement for a flexible work-flow is to be disregarded due to the complexity or non-feasibility in customizing the components of your IT architecture, then it is good time for initiating a re-thinking. Customization is one of the promising features any IT architecture should offer and that are your right rather than a privilege.
The million, if not a billion dollar concern – how your IT architecture is affecting your deliverability and customer satisfaction? Are they forced to wait for a manual approval of an order or transaction they have placed online? Are your embedded business rules are outdated and you are not able to detect or if so, not able to enhance it? Then customer dissatisfaction is obvious. Other features that you may look as being available in your IT architecture are continuous delivery and agility, improved customer participation and transparency in processes, easy and minimum levels of work-flows, smart and pro-active customer support not only through conventional means, but also through live chat, document sharing, transfer of issues to appropriate departments, track-able support tickets etc. are must haves for your IT architecture.
Where are we now?
Not only for SMBs who have resource and budget constraints, in today’s enterprise scenario, even corporations are forced to save every penny in the business model. It is not the actual budget that matters, but whether you will get the ROI and QOS you are looking for your investment. Your IT architecture today have a horizon full of options to support your business with the tools and suites that changes your business environment to a highly productive, collaborative, controlled, and dynamic one.
Data Management and computing are domains where technology has grown enormously. The enterprise service architecture based technologies are making life simpler and richer. If you need a scalable and fully managed database management system to store all your data, your biggest asset, then there are the DBaaS and highly scalable cluster systems like the MySQL Cluster. Managed microservices, cloud based SaaS technologies for communication, collaboration and sharing offer enormous quantity of availability and scalability. Virtualization and Containerization has emerged as powerful alternatives for costly hardware changes. You need not house any hardware in-house that adds to the cost of server maintenance and security, but can purchase the highly scalable, rapidly provisioned computing and data nodes deployed through the cloud and placed in data centers across the world. There is no such thing like one-time investment and periodic investments for upgrades; you need to pay only for what you need at the current moment and foreseeable future.
It is the matter of choices and drive for embracing technology for nourishing your business and productivity through wise decisions. And available for you is a broader spectrum of options, to be picked up and added to your IT architecture shopping cart. What you are supposed to get from this most modern and sophisticated infrastructure is efficiency and growth, with the least effort and cost. And you will start the process of continuous evolution again only to be the best than the previous you.