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Summary

Organizations need to have a strategic approach to IT ecosystems. Ecosystems contain hundreds or thousands of applications with multiple types of metadata. Those focused on data domains (e.g., marketing, sales, finance, and production) would comprise a subset of the larger ecosystem and contain focused applications. Ecosystems may not be formally organized. Some may also be closed except to participants who have defined points of access. Open ecosystems are usually associated with e-commerce platforms. Supporting back-end operational systems in those applications need to adapt to open ecosystems if they exist, as well as the closed systems within their organization. Strategies should be developed to coordinate the use of a platform and its applications to ensure operational efficiencies are maintained for participant satisfaction. This approach often leads to unique ecosystem designs in which subgroups of participants work together to share information, work products (e.g., analytics), algorithms, and reports with the hosting organization that provides platform governance.

Hosted ecosystems are also supported by a variety of third-party applications that provide information or a vehicle to create work products. Key roles include the hosting organization, suppliers, consumers, and experts of various applications. Data are easily shared by all participants based on data and business rules through cloud platforms and portals. Normalization of data is straightforward using metadata governance and rules. The second level of the ecosystems is the production of discrete workloads for data domains. This enables participants to contribute information to the work product. The highest level of the ecosystem are the user interfaces or portals that control access to the metadata, rules, and work products. These are organized by participant groups. Also supporting the ecosystem are engineers and analysts who conceive new applications and coordinate the use of current applications through analytics, algorithms, and functions and features. These roles include discipline experts associated with coding, data domain experts, and application developers who improve the value of current applications or create new ones. This leads to the question of which organization owns the customer experience? Strategy is important. Customer satisfaction and the efficiency of internal operations, both IT as well as supporting systems, need to be governed across the supply chains to ensure excellent customer experience and productivity.

Having the ability to create an IT ecosystem that supports adaptable and flexible processes enables organizations to compete effectively on a global basis in diverse markets. IT ecosystems are very complex, having hundreds or even thousands of software applications supported by IT platforms with thousands of metadata fields. These need to be formally governed though a council. Clear roles and responsibilities are necessary, as well as an understanding of the metadata flowing from various sources to consuming systems. These systems and their metadata must have owners and supporting governance processes. IT ecosystems may also have redundant systems if an organization acquired other organizations that had their own IT ecosystems.

Over the past few decades, advanced software applications have been designed to automatically navigate these ecosystems to collect and organize enormous amounts of data to make it useful for reporting, providing insights, and making decisions. Operations has also benefited through direct IT automation across the ecosystem as well as focused process automation (i.e., RPA). RPA is applied to mature and stable processes having high volumes or large batch sizes where the business rules for doing work are logical. An RPA algorithm or macro mimics a highly manual process used to produce work, but at a lower cost and higher quality. This can include automated access to metadata in other applications to copy, delete, or modify it to build reports, models, invoices, and other work products.

Agile project management (АРМ) is an effective methodology for coordinating and managing IT projects. АРМ promotes the gathering of customer user stories and requirements by displaying them visually. This helps the scrum team associate work tasks with discrete features and functions tied to user stories. These can be executed in a scrum sprint. At the end of a sprint, a working solution is reviewed by the business owner, customers, and stakeholders. Software development productivity will be higher and lead times will be reduced when АРМ is used effectively.

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