The two-by-two matrix is the stock-in-trade of the management consulting industry. There’s a reason for that – they are generally pretty useful, and help to put a bit of classification onto things that helps conversations about what to do next.
As mentioned in my previous post, there are a number of technology architecture frameworks that have been developed over the years, but for the most part they tend to over-complicate in an attempt to provide a solution for every circumstance. That ends up making them fail on what should be their primary goal – to ease communication between groups of people with different skills, backgrounds and interests.
So in thinking about a Digital Architecture for non-technologists, something pragmatic, simple and useful, the two-by-two matrix is an obvious choice. What makes up those two dimensions, and four boxes, is the tricky bit. Here goes…
Along the bottom we have either Internal- or External-facing technologies Are they things your clients, customers or suppliers see, or are they “for your eyes only”?
Up the side we have either Core Product/Services, or Support technologies. Are they things that are central to your business doing what it does, or are they supporting “back office” functions that to some extent every business has and needs?
Those two dimensions then give us four boxes (quadrants) –
Internal/Support = Support
External/Support = Communications
Internal/Core = Production
External/Core = Product
Great. But so what?
Well, thinking about the technology (and people and processes) we have in our businesses allows us to make judgements about how and where we should invest. Should we buy a piece of software to do the job? Should we build up software development teams to build our own? Should we outsource something in its entirety? Where are our gaps? What are our competitors doing?
Over the next few articles we’ll take a look at each of those quadrants in turn, understand general strategies and approaches, and look at some examples from companies in various sectors (both good and bad).