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It’s good to know what you’re doing and why. That’s the idea behind one of the hot marketing terms that we seeing a lot of today—governance. It’s an idea (or goal) that’s also become the object of a variety of adjectives—IT governance, SOA governance, applications governance and more.

To some extent, governance is the latest marketing buzzword, as much as the paperless office was in the 1980s, updated for the 21st century with its implied focus on control and efficient management of IT (or application or SOA) environments. I’m not sure who coined the term, but it’s been around since the mid-to-late 1990s, gaining significant usage starting around 1999 and then gaining in popularity dramatically after the technology and economic downturn in 2001.

Based on conversations with business and IT leaders, the idea of governance—everything from IT Governance to SOA governance to application governance—continues to hold value. Although the term is overused, it still fills a need for organizations to find ways to quantify and qualify the IT or application investments they’re making.

While it’s certainly an overused term, it’s not one that’s going away anytime soon. We’ve seen a dramatic change over the past five years towards much greater scrutiny and cost/benefit analysis of IT investment and returns. Almost all companies have business pressures for higher profits and reduced technology investments. As a result, organizations, CIOs, and IT managers are leveraging portfolio management practices to justify, expand and explain the value and benefits of their IT resources through the use of IT governance approaches.

I believe that one of the reasons that so many companies are positioning their products under the “governance” label is because it’s basically broad enough to mean just about anything. But, at the same time, it’s still something that rational business and IT managers respond to—who wouldn’t want to have good “governance” over their IT (or application or SOA) investments. Governance implies strong management, good control and fiscal responsibility—all virtues that have become incredibly important in this post-Enron SOX-oriented regulated environment.

While there are a variety of software and management tools that can help address governance issues, the real money to be made is in consulting—helping organizations align their business requirements and needs with their technology infrastructure and practices.


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