Here’s an interesting question that I was asked this week: “How do I stop software vendors going around me and going direct to the business?” – Enterprise Architect, large business, well-known brand.

In short, you can’t, and it will get worse. Much like mechanisation drove the industrial revolution, we are starting to see how the Cloud is revolutionising systems architecture and the knock-on effect of that is how software is bought and sold. Software vendors know that they are no longer selling how beautifully engineered or how secure their software is to IT, instead they have to sell functionality and outcomes to the business leaders.

This is particularly prevalent in marketing. CMOs and marketing directors are always in a hurry as they need to deliver business results quickly and there is an an enormous amount of marketing technology available! Waiting two years or more for a CRM or Campaign Management solution to be delivered is no longer a constraint for them. In fact, in extreme cases, solutions are a matter of a few clicks and a credit card away. No IT, no procurement, it is just up and running.

One approach I have seen businesses take is that the CMO gets “their wings clipped”. Unfortunately, that is just a short-term fix. Firstly, the average tenure of a CMO is two years, so the next one is just going to do what they think they need to when they turn up. Secondly, per my analogy of the industrial revolution, the weight of enormous change is coming so you (IT), are only putting a temporary patch on the “problem” by imposing rules like this.

Of course, there are plenty of arguments that software and systems need to be properly embedded with appropriate organisation and change processes implemented. But here lies the rub, marketing is never looking for 100% perfect – ‘good enough to deliver results’ is usually the axiom. They really don’t care how scrappy it is under the covers, they will fix that later if it delivers better results when architected properly.

And there lies the answer to the question. How can you be relevant and help the business leaders deliver results? Relevant means proving your ROI to the business.

How to do this might be achieved by separating the “I” from the “T”. Information and data, for the most part (and currently), it still sits in the hands of architecture and technical teams. By focusing on insight and how data supports the business, the applications that use that data become less important to you as architects. This is by no means to say that it won’t still be like herding cats! It definitely will and it will be an increasingly hard job.