As the gap between IT and the business continues to narrow - albeit slowly - there's an increasing understanding that IT needs to bend to the requirements of the business, rather than the other way around.
In some quarters this might be viewed as heresy because we spent the last 20 years convincing business executives that packaged ERP applications were actually the codification of best practices when it comes to business processes. As such, we asked the business to conform to the software. The trouble is that changing ERP software to reflect rapidly changing business processes proved to be near impossible.
The end result is that business executives became convinced that IT executives just didn't understand the real needs of the business. The good news is IT departments are starting to regain their credibility in the eyes of the business by focusing more on business process management (BPM). Done right, BPM provides more flexibility by wrapping business logic in a modular way around a particular business process from end-to-end, rather than just concentrating on integrating a set of horizontal applications in a suite.
BPM, however, is not easy. Many of the tools being marketed in the BPM space are little more than expanded middleware and electronic forms software. In an effort to make it easier for customers to actually accomplish BPM, CSC has announced a partnership with BPM platform provider Cordys that will make the latter company's BPM platform available as a cloud computing service. Applications built on top of the CSC cloud computing platform will essentially be delivered back to the business as a service.
The basic idea is that rather than having to invest in the IT infrastructure needed to make BPM work, CSC will essentially host the BPM applications. Customers can also deploy Cordys software on-premise and most customers are expected to wind up with blended scenarios where certain elements of a process, such as analytics, run in the cloud, while other processes run locally.
To bring the business and IT community together to design the business process, Cordys also provides a collaboration workspace where business people and the IT development team can model a specific business process that will be executed on the Cordys platform.
Cordys, which is led by Jan Baan of Baan Software fame, is basically arguing that in order to bring IT and the business together, the IT industry needs a new approach that they have endeavored to build from the ground up, rather than try to retrofit legacy application architectures. Given the general state of IT affairs as it applies to the needs of business, the odds are good that Cordys has a real point to make.
And for the first time in history, that may actually not only wind up with IT bending to meet the needs of the business, but also the reinvention of the way we think about business processes themselves.