Historically, many companies have had a single strategy for selecting, deploying and managing applications. They have had a defined structure for classifying applications by value or functionality, but failed to recognize that applications are fundamentally different based on how and when they are engaged by individuals and the organization as a whole and the pace at which these tools need to be changed and updated. Many organizations are finding themselves with an enterprise application strategy that fails to satisfy the needs of the business community, which has often led to underutilized applications throughout their portfolio.
Gartner’s Pace Layered Application Strategy is a methodology for categorizing applications based on how they are used and how fast they change. This strategy helps IT organizations rationalize the use of DevOps practices that ensure a faster response and a better ROI, without sacrificing integration, integrity or governance requirements. The strategy has defined three application categories, or "layers," to distinguish application types and help organizations develop more appropriate strategies for each:
- Systems of Record — Established packaged applications or legacy homegrown systems that support core transaction processing and manage the organization's critical master data. The rate of change is low, because the processes are well-established and common to most organizations, and often are subject to regulatory requirements.
- Systems of Differentiation — Applications that enable unique company processes or industry-specific capabilities. They have a medium life cycle (one to three years), but need to be reconfigured frequently to accommodate changing business practices or customer requirements.
- Systems of Innovation — New applications that are built on an ad hoc basis to address new business requirements or opportunities. These are typically short life cycle projects (zero to 12 months) using departmental or outside resources and consumer-grade technologies. (1)
- Common ideas — aspects of the business in which leaders are happy to follow commonly accepted ways of doing things that change fairly slowly.
- Different ideas — aspects of the business in which leaders not only want to do things differently from comparable organizations, but also can specify the details of how the different approach should be taken, and can expect these details to change on a regular basis.
- New ideas — aspects of the business in which leaders are thinking of an early stage concept, and are not at the point where they can be specific regarding the details of how things should work. (2)