Application Proliferation: Imperatives For The CIO

Bharti Maan

Enterprise applications are integral to running any business. Applications are among the most effective tools of any business and speed up and simplify nearly any task or process. Applications enable businesses to serve their wide range of customers across geographies, create versatile products and solutions customized to diverse customer situations and needs,  sell under difficult and uncertain conditions, unlock the value of or verify specific opportunities, and even uncover root causes.

But should you have too much of a good thing? And how would you ensure that the good things you have continue being good?

Most companies deploy 10-12 large application platforms to manage the various business functions like finances, human resources, sales and marketing activities, customer support, supply chain, manufacturing, procurement, retail store operations, etc., supporting key business needs of data management and analytics. Platforms are the most reliable instruments that can execute perpetual business processes impeccably and can act as custodians of compliance.

However, they can also be a no-go for the agility needed by the rapidly changing business environment. Business leaders often need niche applications to gain a competitive edge. In an aggressive and ambitious marketplace where time is the most valuable commodity, business leaders often decide in favor of specialized SaaS applications to fill this gap and to supplement the platform’s capabilities.

This creates a huge sprawl of SaaS applications tied to platforms like a tassel. Enterprise architecture is a lever that helps CIOs effectively manage the continuously growing application portfolio that, if left unmanaged, can lead to complexity, create confusion, waste staff time, and even potentially jeopardize business relationships.

Business processes and data flow maps

In the age of innovation, some applications fundamentally alter or even eliminate inefficient business processes, replacing them with new ways of doing business. It becomes imperative to continuously update the business process and data flow maps. Dated, inaccurate, or inconsistent details can ruin the internal operations of any corporation.

Application architecture

Application architecture articulates the purpose of each application – business (HR, finance), functional (analytics), and technical (database, middleware). This makes it easy to track the accurate inventory of the applications, expenses, ownership, and contract renewal dates. This also enables business leaders to make calls on the acquisition, deployment, and use of niche applications.

Data security and compliance

In most organizations, it is the responsibility of CIOs and CISOs to understand the regulations and industry standards that govern routine operations. Applications must pass the test of the multiple applicable compliance policies. It is essential to categorize the applications based on the various regulations and standards that they must comply with.

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Bharti Maan

About Bharti Maan

Bharti is the director of Innovation and Digital Transformation Advisory at SAP, architecting and mentoring digital transformation projects for key and strategic accounts of SAP. She is a thought leader and technology champion for disruptive technologies of cloud, data analytics, digital twins, AI, IoT, cognitive intelligence, and RPA. Her team ensures alignment to business goals by defining appropriate strategies and ensuring that “the rubber meets the road.”