Leave IT Order-Taking Behind — How To Become A BT Leader

[Forrester Principal Analyst Phil Murphy and I collaborated on this research — and the consulting projects that prompted it.]

Business technology demands that application development and delivery pros help business leaders define IT capabilities to drive business strategies and either create or broker delivery of those capabilities. To respond, app development and delivery pros must adopt new delivery methods, organizational models, roles, and processes. Providing excellent IT project execution and predictable IT utilities is now table stakes. Welcome to the world of BT — where the walls between IT and the business have faded or disappeared almost entirely.

Three case studies illustrate the paths that app delivery organizations will follow as they make the transition from IT order-takers to business technology (BT) leaders. (The company names have been fictionalized.)

  • "Services Inc." struggles to keep the lights on while the business expands globally. The IT group initially thought it needed a new software development life cycle (SDLC) and stronger project management. In fact, it needs much more: a productive relationship with line-of-business leaders, an application platform flexible enough to keep up with demands, and a refocusing of its efforts on the work that would help it globalize and that would truly differentiate it from competitors.

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The Business Architect Cometh

[Forrester Principal Analyst Alexander Peters, PhD. and I collaborated on this research.]

You may have heard the term "business architect" in your travels; if you haven't, you soon will. A significant number of our clients are searching for these new leaders. Broadly, BAs are responsible for developing and managing an organization's business model and business technology (BT) agenda. The business architect fills the gap between business management and IT management. One way to bridge the gap is to make it someone's responsibility to do so.

In our research, we spoke to individuals occupying this crucial role in a large European agency, a large financial services firm, a regional healthcare provider, a diversified energy provider, and a logistics firm. The need for BAs is most acute in organizations that are in the midst of transforming their businesses and information systems.

The need for business architects is manifest, but what's less apparent to these firms is how this role should be structured, who should occupy it, and what a BA's responsibilities should be (as illustrated by wide variations in job ads for the position). In our research, we found two established models for the BA role:

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