A Gartner study claims low-code/no-code and AI technology is shifting the ownership of IT away from technical teams. Do enterprise architects need to fear this change or is this an opportunity to democratize enterprise architecture?
Technology was once something restricted to those skilled enough to wield it. Computing began with people painstakingly creating punch cards and elaborate machines to read them.
However, as the machines we created have grown more and more intelligent, the skill level required to use them has reduced. Modern computers fit in the palm of your hand and can be used by children barely old enough to walk.
This has had an incredible impact on our daily lives and on our business models. Technology is now often simple enough for us to install ourselves, and instead of paying people to repair it when it breaks, we can usually find out how to do it ourselves on YouTube.
The workplace has been slower to adopt these new possibilities due to the cost of implementation, but they are being leveraged. Simpler computer interfaces and cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools are empowering workers to do for themselves things that they used to have to call on IT teams for.
The more they can do themselves, the higher their productivity, and the more time is freed up for technical teams to focus on improving IT infrastructure to support self-service IT. When you need a new IT tool, you can simply log onto a website and leverage it in five minutes, instead of waiting six months for it to be approved and rolled out across the business.
As the power of self-service IT technology allows your colleagues to do things themselves, there is, however, a risk of losing oversight. How do you know what IT services are in use across your organization if anyone is able to implement or build any software they like?
The key here is the LeanIX platform; a tool that offers oversight on business-led IT. To find out more, book a demo:
In the meantime, let's look more closely at the tools that are empowering business-led IT, the risks, and the solution.
The Tools Empowering Business-Led IT
So, we know that workers in your organization are leveraging and creating their own software tools, but what technology is it that's enabling these changes. More importantly, how will this technology develop in the future?
Low-code or no-code technology is an interface for software development that allows users to build software without any knowledge of machine language. This simplifies the process to allow anyone to create or adapt their own applications.
Often, no-code means commonly used chunks of code appear as blocks that can be dragged and dropped together to build a simple process. Sometimes, advanced functions can be added by using a simplified coding language like basic HTML or Python.
Using these low-code interfaces, even a non-technical user can build tools like chatbots and automations. Users can then optimize and personalize their digital tools to support their unique working style.
Even as we've yet to see the full potential of low-code/no-code tools, they may have been replaced by an even more advanced technology. Generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT can now create custom code for non-technical users from scratch.
Users can now simply ask ChatGPT to code new software tools for them and then apply the code themselves. Since the generative AI responds to written instructions, anyone can use it without any training.
While low-code and generative AI solutions are empowering brave users to build their own software, it's still often easier to access cloud-based third-party software through web browsers. These software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools allow users to leverage software without having to download it into your IT infrastructure where it can be monitored.
Pay versions of this software can be accessed by company credit cards without authorization, but many of the tools are free to use at basic levels or earn revenue through advertisements. This won't drain your budget, but users can still give these unauthorized applications access to confidential internal data, or unwittingly give cyber criminals access to your network.
Samsung employees were recently discovered to have uploaded proprietary code to ChatGPT and asked it to optimize it, without realizing that gave ChatGPT's vendor, OpenAI, access to that code. Worse, ChatGPT learned it and could potentially then distribute it to other users.
Business-Led IT Vs "Shadow IT"
Enabling the business to make decisions regarding what the most effective and productive tools are for their unique roles and styles of working is actually a very positive thing. Users are more empowered and productive, and IT teams save time to focus on broader tasks.
The downside, however, is that users aren't able to vet software for security or business fit. On the one hand, business-led IT opens you up to cyber risk; and on the other, users each buying their own version of a single software-as-a-service (SaaS) application can rapidly spiral your costs out of control without you even knowing.
This has caused many to refer to the otherwise-positive practice of business-led IT as the more-sinister "shadow IT". While the concept isn't deserving of such an ominous monicher, there is a clear challenge to enabling business-led IT.
This problem, however, isn't just limited to internal work. Self-service tools are also enabling non-technical teams to take over the delivery of technical services to external customers.
The Gartner report we mentioned above claims that, in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) area, "46% of CIOs are partnering with their CxO peers to bring IT and business area staff together to co-own digital delivery on an enterprise-wide scale". This means that half of businesses in EMEA are already entrusting the digital delivery of their products and services to non-technical teams.
Yet, when this is happening, how can you be certain that there aren't technical consequences that can't be foreseen by non-technical people? How can you allow the empowerment of business-led IT without losing oversight on your IT landscape?
Overcoming The Challenges Of Business-Led IT
Having full visibility of your IT landscape without gatekeeping self-service IT tools for your users requires a platform that can track your entire landscape and involve your users in your efforts. Having a single source of truth for your application portfolio that everyone in your organization can access means democratizing IT oversight, just as self-service democratizes IT.
Offer cyber security and technical support to your colleagues in return for them notifying you of what self-service technology they're using. This allows you to retain oversight of your IT landscape, without becoming a blocker for when your organization wants to leverage innovative tech.
Where a tool is being abused or doesn't have a sufficient security standard, you can offer an alternative application that fits the business need just as well. On the other hand, you can offer synergy in terms of group licenses for popular tools, reducing costs and improving the user experience.
Mapping your IT landscape, including software-as-a-service (SaaS) and self-service toolsets, without prescribing particular tools to use, means you can work with the business to enable them, rather than working against them. That's what the LeanIX platform was built for.
Leveraging The LeanIX Platform
By reducing complexity, managing cost, and aligning applications with critical business capabilities, you can improve the effectiveness and competitiveness of your IT landscape. An organized, current application repository is essential for all these initiatives and a complex spreadsheet just won't suffice.
Yet, even updated, a repository doesn't always reflect the business-led and self-service IT tools that are commonly used in today's world. The LeanIX platform's application repository supports business-led IT with automated software-as-a-service (SaaS) discovery and user survey capabilities to ensure you shine light on your "shadow" IT.
We also offer business capability mapping to ensure your IT landscape is aligned with your overall strategy. Finally, you can then road map your path to optimization and visualize that journey for everyone in your organization.
To find out more about the LeanIX Application Portfolio Management product, book a demo: