Many organizations find themselves with an enterprise application strategy that no longer satisfies the needs and desires of the business community, and this often leads to poor decisions and bad investments. In response to this need, Gartner has developed a “Pace-Layered Application Strategy” methodology for categorizing applications which, when coupled with metadata management best practices, enables a differentiated management and governance process that reflects how applications and related information assets are used and their rate of change — information needed to make good business decisions and investments.
At the heart of these layers is the concept that solutions may be categorized in three “layers”; 1) foundational but not provide highly competitive value, 2) foundational and provide competitive differentiation or 3) “innovative” to pilot new ideas which add further competitive value. In general, the first two categories (or “layers”) tend to have a large number of interdependencies across data, process/workflow, application and technology, while the latter may be rather isolated/independent from the other solutions – though some aspects of the innovation may be independent while other aspects might be more integrated to existing solutions.
For example, adding new mobile access from an iPad would include new technology and (perhaps) application logic but the network being used and the data being accessed might also be highly shared by foundational applications. Or, there may be a use of existing technology and applications to access new social media data in the cloud as part of an innovation project.
The net of all this, is that to understand the impact of innovations or changes to foundational applications requires a good understanding of the interdependencies within and across each of the pace layer for all aspects of the solutions – i.e. the metadata about those solutions. In other words, metadata understanding is what enables architects and business managers to make decisions on which solutions to change, when to change them and which approaches to use to best meet those needs and objectives.
Pace layering is a best practice for application strategies, but needs enterprise-wide metadata management as a complementary best practice to be successful.
Gartner clients who would like to read more about this topic should access the following research notes:
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