Industry Solution Adaptability

An integrated solution model and an integrated analysis and engineering method addressing change in large and complex enterprises


  • Wiel Bruls IBM Global Business Services
  • Edward Giesen IBM Global Business Services
  • Marc Lankhorst BiZZdesign
  • Robert Winter University of St. Gallen, Institute of Information Management
  • Hans Slaets IBM Global Business Services



Adaptability, Industry solutions, Configurability, Business model, Operating model, Variability modelling, Feature modelling, Business Configuration


The spectrum of changes that enterprises need to deal with varies from simple continuous adjustments of the product portfolio in response to evolving customer preferences, to complete overhauls of the business and operating model in response to disruptive trends. Many research fields and practitioner disciplines have produced analysis and engineering approaches that can help enterprises to assess and prepare for the impact of changes from this spectrum. However, they have partial scopes and consequently limited integration. By selecting, slightly extending and integrating existing approaches, this paper introduces a ‘simple enough’ integrated solution model and a ‘simple enough’ integrated analysis and engineering method that covers the full spectrum of changes.
Our focus is the large, complex enterprise that operates in a specific industry and performs information processing at scale. The research is intended to provide methodical support to practitioners with a responsibility for shaping solutions. Our proposal is the result of initial experiences in practice that instilled the research theme, application in a large-scale industry project, focused collaborative research that joined researchers and academia, and ongoing applications and experiences in practice. The solution model and the analysis and engineering method that we propose support three types of adaptability: a) foundational adaptability produces full new business model and operating model parts, b) transitional adaptability extends the current business model and operating model and adds additional configurability, and c) routine adaptability is managed within the configurability of individual operating model components that need to be designed with sufficient bandwidth. A business configuration center is proposed as a key constituent that manages the differences in underlying technology, and that allows to perform integrated, technology agnostic administration of an industry solution.

Author Biographies

Wiel Bruls, IBM Global Business Services

Dr. Wiel Bruls is an enterprise architect in IBM Global Business Services with 30+ years of experience in practice. With a Ph.D. in physics and trained in experiment-based research, his interests in IT research are the foundational underpinnings on which the knowledge of the artificial is built. He has led the development of industry solutions in IBM. Adaptability is a dominant theme in his work as practitioner, that he underpins with this publication with an academic perspective.

Edward Giesen, IBM Global Business Services

Ir. Edward Giesen MBA is a partner and senior management consultant in IBM Global Business Services organization with global responsibilities for strategy and business architecture. His interests include business model innovation and digital strategy and their operationalization. He is IBM’s global leader of CBM (Component Business Models) a business architecture technique that is used amongst others in strategic projections of future developments.

Marc Lankhorst, BiZZdesign

Dr. Ir. Marc Lankhorst is active both as practitioner and researcher. At BiZZdesign he is responsible for digital business design and enterprise architecture. Previously at Telematica Instituut/Novay (an organization that bridged between academia and industry) he has written numerous scientific and business publications and he is the editor of two books, “Enterprise Architecture at Work” and “Agile Service Development”. Marc has managed the development of the ArchiMate® modeling language for enterprise architecture, now an Open Group standard.

Robert Winter, University of St. Gallen, Institute of Information Management

Prof. Dr. Robert Winter is Chair of Business & Information Systems Engineering and Director of the Institute of Information Management. His research interests include method engineering, enterprise architecture management, enterprise transformation management, and the governance of large IT projects. In his research he bridges between theoretical foundation and practical implications.

Hans Slaets, IBM Global Business Services

Ir. Hans Slaets is an enterprise engineer/architect in IBM Global Business services with an interest in methodical underpinnings of software architectures. He has developed blueprints of software engineering models as part of IBM industry solutions that model the industry’s commonality, and has developed models of variability. His current interests are the identification of artefacts that integrate between programmatic and architectural methods.






Research Article