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CIOs on the IT Landscape Complexity and the Need for Agility

Martijn Schilperoort
March 26, 2015

I recently moderated a CIO roundtable to address the challenge of how enterprises free themselves from stove-piped or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications with disruptive technology. I think the market has arrived at a crossroads.

The CIOs I met were extremely frustrated bythe how' and who' to addressthe above mentioned challenge. Over the last couple years they were forced to build solutions that would reduce full-time employees (FTEs) by automating the work, as well as decrease the total cost of ownership (TCO) by outsourcing support functions.

They executed accordingly, standardized their software stack, and rationalized their application landscapes tooutsource the maintenance and support to their (Big 5) system integrators. They secured extremely tight service level agreements (SLAs) on cost and effort, and have been managing the contracts on these key performance indicators (KPIs).

These same CIOs are now told that their applications landscape and systems architecture are outdated. The lack of ability to provide the business with innovative functionality and omni-channel reach is causing the business to lose their competitive advantage...every month.

Catch phrases and strong terms flood the market: Agile Enterprise Software, Adaptive Enterprise Applications, Context-Aware Intelligent Platform, and even terms that predict a customer apocalypse! I can fully relate to the utter confusion of these executives! Aren't these parties exactly the same advisors who counseled me to do what I am currently doing? I quote, "Now that I am finally getting a grip on costs and stability, I am told I am not agile. I am stuck in five-year contracts and multi-million dollar programs with a number of mission critical projects."

I needed to do some soul searching for myselfÖHow do we explain that outsourcing the application landscape sounded like a good idea at the time, but mustbe re-engineered to facilitate on-site,business-led agile, rapid application development? What are the actual contractual, architectural, and educational elements that currently must be dealt with on a daily basis, and how do these elements relate to the current lack of agility incurrent IT organizations?

Have we all been giving the wrong advice? Or has "the future" overhauled us? What should we be advising and selling to our customers? Shouldn't we be taking into account that we (analysts, vendors, systems integrators, consultants) are part of the problem, as well as part of the solution?

Isn't it time that vendors take a good look at themselves and make doing business easy?

We should help our customers with easy and fast learning curves for our customers to be able to own their own future. We should eliminate cloud or on-premise decisions by providing technology and contracts that provide both and enable flexibility for customers to change and adapt. We should be able to provide our customers with a platform that facilitates the sharing of best practices and optimizes collaboration.

For now, at least, I am feeling happy that my soul searching made me realize that I made at least one correct choice last year. I joined the Appian team. If you want to know why, click to learn moreor head over to

-Martijn Schilperoort,Managing Director, Appian Benelux