Blog post

You Can’t Build a Business Case for Enterprise Mashups

By Anthony J. Bradley | June 11, 2009 | 3 Comments


OK, now it is starting to seem gratuitous after my post titled “You Can’t Build a Business Case for Social Software.” But I do actually have a point.

Like social software, you can’t build a universal business case for mashups but need to examine how you can apply mashups to gain business value. In other words, although you can’t build a general business case for mashups, you can build a specific mashup-centric business cases.

With today’s economic climate business cases are becoming more of a requirement to gain IT funding. Whereas I used to hear clients talk more about the use case for mashups as enabling new types of applications, now I hear clients asking more about how they can save money with mashups. I talk to them about looking at their application and integration project portfolios for the mashup 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule for mashups being the identification of application delivery or integration projects where mashups can deliver an 80% solution at 20% the cost (or less).

A major reason for this post is that I just finished (and published today) three mashup papers including (available to clients or for a fee):

In keeping with the subject of this post let’s explore the last paper.

Last year I published Building an SOA Business Case: A Gartner Framework. This framework was a year in the making and, as part of the effort, I assembled a underlying approach to building IT based business cases that trace the fundamental principles of the technology through to technology benefits, business benefits and ultimately to business bottom line. It is a fairly sophisticated model that assists in assembling an end-to-end story for business justification. I have now applied the underlying model to enterprise mashups and have begun to apply it to social software (will probably publish in late August 2009).

Here are some of the basics on the underlying model (i.e., there are no specifics on SOA, mashups, or social software in this description).

The Gartner IT business case framework is a tool to assist enterprises in building project-specific IT business case justifications. The purpose of the framework is to assist enterprises in understanding, identifying and assembling value information to support a business case document with traceability from business value back to the fundamental principles of the relevant technology (SOA, mashups, social software). Due to the variability in implementations Gartner can’t provide a universal finished business case justification, nobody can, but we can help you to build one.

The framework consists of a few fundamental components: elements, chains, bundles, profiles, and resulting business justifications. The elements capture fundamental value and cost characteristics. An element falls into one of six categories, including technology principles, technology costs, technology benefits, business costs, business benefits and business impact. Each element has a descriptive profile that captures relevant value applicability, benefits, costs and risk information. The elements are assembled together into chains for end-to-end traceability from the underlying technology principles through to the ultimate business impact. The chains are grouped into bundles that can address a large initiative in its entirety. The bundle assembles a group of relevant element chains (and their associated profiles) into a business case justification that serves as the foundation for a complete business case document. Figure 1 depicts the general components of the framework.

Figure 1. The Gartner IT Business Case Core Framework

Figure 1. The Gartner SOA Business Case Framework

Source: Gartner (June 2009)

Figure 2 depicts a single chain built from the enterprise mashup framework that assembles six elements across four categories (a second step of applying the technology and business cost elements is not depicted here). This example chain is assembled by selecting the development productivity element. This tells the basic story of how the mashup principles of web oriented architecture and composite application leads to the technology benefit of development productivity which leads to cost reduction and operational effectiveness and ultimately delivers better profitability.

In the enterprise mashup business case framework we identify and define 36 elements across all six categories and the relationship mappings between them. Like I said, it is a fairly sophisticated model. I hope the glimpse I gave here provides some insight into its value.

Figure 2. The Development Productivity Chain

Figure 4. The Development Productivity Chain (Node View)

Source: Gartner (June 2009)

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  • John Crupi says:

    Anthony I like this a lot. We see that now, the Business Benefit is the area companies are most concerned about. Since much of mashups is about speed (compared to DIY and traditional technologies), do you think the ‘speed factor’ fits under Cost Reduction or Operational Effectiveness or both.

    John Crupi,

  • Anthony Bradley says:

    In the model, the “Faster Application Delivery” technology benefit element maps strongly to three business benefit elements “Cost Reduction or Avoidance,” “Operational Effectiveness,” and “Market Responsiveness.”

  • I read the three Mashup papers and they are excellent. I recommend them to anyone seriously interested in Enterprise Mashups. I would like though to draw attention to a cool Enterprise Mashup vendor from France that virtually complies to the reference architecture and even adds legacy mashables – that’s Convertigo by