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Demand Shaping: The IT Unit’s New Passion

Title Author(s) Type Topic(s) Comments Date
Demand Shaping: The IT Unit's New PassionRoss, Jeanne W.
Beath, Cynthia M.
Research BriefingIT Governance
IT Investment and Portfolio Management
Abstract: In the Digital Economy, companies must be strategic in choosing their IT projects. This briefing identifies six “demand shaping” tools that leading-edge companies are using to ensure that their IT project portfolios pursue their most valuable and achievable opportunities. While the tools themselves are not new, what is new is that firms are using them specifically to build IT savvy and to concentrate investments on strategic IT capabilities. The tools include making IT costs transparent, strategic program management, roadmapping, agile development methodologies, post-implementation reviews, and business relationship managers.

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April 16, 2014

Very good paper that reminds IT leaders where to focus and what to orchestrate.
Two questions/comments where I would like to know your pov:
1. Roadmapping: you mention that it “…often starts with application portfolio management..” Shouldn’t Entreprise Architecture be the leader or “orchestrator” of this?
2. Agile development methodologies: the practice of release dates vs the “DevOps” where the best-in-class org. like Amazon, Google, Facebook realize dozens+ deployments per day. Your pov?

Jeanne Ross
April 16, 2014

Cynthia and I discussed your questions. Here are our thoughts:
1. We agree that the EA team often orchestrates roadmapping initiatives. But this process preceded assignment of an EA team at some companies we’ve studied. By “application portfolio management’ we were referring to the adoption of application portfolio management practices — baselining the application portfolio’s characteristics. Getting a clear grip on what is in the application portfolio, how good applications are technically, how valuable they are to users, what platforms they run on, etc — is often a good first step in developing roadmaps. Of course, it is often an early step in an EA journey, too!!

2. What “born on the web” companies like Apple, Google and Facebook do in terms of developing and evolving their web presences is interesting, (and there may be are important lessons there…). but it doesn’t seem that germane to “not born on the web” companies who are struggling with legacies and complexities that limit their agility. What we’ve observed is that companies (of all sorts) that have adopted agile methods see benefits in improved business leader grasp of what technology can do and how easy or hard it is to develop a particular feature. This improved understanding informs their requests, thus having an important side benefit of shaping demand. Agile methods have other benefits on the supply side (and on the operations side, at companies like Google), but our interest was in how these methods also turn out to shape demand for IT.

April 26, 2014

Thanks for sharing this valuable research. I have a question about whether your research looked into the governance structures in or through which all or some of these demand shaping activities/interactions should occur. For example, innovation incubators that exist in some mature and forward-looking organizations may be a good place for some of the demand-shaping activities such as agile development to take place (by evans). I was wondering if you became aware of any such specific organizational structures used to support demand shaping in the organizations included in the research.

Jeanne Ross
April 27, 2014

No, we have not observed any structural factors. What may prove more relevant for agile is architectural maturity. The existence of reusable platforms appears, understandably, to facilitate agile. We are currently analyzing survey data that will help us better understand contributors to demand shaping.

October 20, 2014

Hi Jeanne

Excellent insights. Do you have more views on factors that contribute to successful adoption and application of agile (like architectural maturity) at “not-born-on-web” enterprises – especially Banks that have a mish-mash of large legacy platforms (or are in the process of renewing these through core banking modernization programmes) and newer digital platforms of engagement?

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