SaaS is being adopted to decrease OODA loop time

(Reposted from LinkedIn, where an interesting discussion of Enterprise Architecture's role in the modern organisation is taking place.)

SaaS is an interesting beast. If we consider "work" to exist on a continuum from servitude on the left (a completely custom service on demand) to shop window on the right (here's what on display; take it or leave it), SaaS is far more to the right.

This makes pricing far more transparent, but means that any expectation of customisation or integration needs to be minimal. This is kind of the opposite to what Enterprise Architecture aims for: the fully integrated and tailored approach. So there's an intrinsic conflict in approach.

Here is the challenge for EA: people are adopting SaaS because they need a faster reaction time than EA and in-house IT has been able to deliver. You can consider this in terms of classic OODA and achieving a shorter cycle.

Now, with my KM hat on, I divide an organisation's work into three cycles: business processing (BP), information processing (IP), and knowledge processing (KP).

OODA corresponds to BP, with the "Orient" and "Decide" phases of OODA dependent upon the quality of both IP and KP. The risk of SaaS is that you put both IP and KP into "islands" which ignore the rest of the organisation. Therefore you might be reacting faster, but making less-informed and lower-quality decisions. Then it's another trade-off: is the faster reaction time more important than the quality of the decision?

The answer is not always comforting to traditional EA/IT practitioners (and record managers, for that matter). However, I imagine that the adoption of blitzkrieg tactics in World War II was equally uncomfortable to commanders used to more traditional approaches...

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