The technical architecture evolved along with the software architecture. Before the 1980s mainframe systems with ‘dumb’ terminals were the available technical architecture. Mainframes supported the operational and executional needs of supply chain management such as inventory management, manufacturing, resource planning and scheduling. These systems were tightly controlled by the MIS ‘priesthood’. Information and application requests were often funneled into a ‘black hole’ backlog. Firms were bound to mainframe vendors by proprietary hardware and operating systems. Vendor leverage led to extremely high costsIn the 1980s and 1990s, minicomputers and personal computers were used along with mainframe computers. Users began to recognize that highly dynamic business trends required more rapid response than was being provided by the current IT environment. Users tried to circumvent the problem by installing departmental or functionally specific systems on minicomputers and/or PCs. While speed of response improved, the ‘ad-hoc’ approach led to poor maintenance, insufficient training and inconsistent handling of data throughout the firm. In the 1990s and early 2000s, client/server systems evolved in a big way. Technical advances provided an alternative solution, client/server, for users faced with the problems inherent in a mainframe-based IT architecture. By reducing dependency on proprietary systems, client/server systems shifted power from the vendor to the system buyer. Properly configured client/server systems enforced data integrity by controlled replication and synchronization and through firm-wide data repositories. Client components provided graphical user interfaces (GUI) leading to fewer operator errors and lower training requirements. In the early 2000s, the fully distributed computing model emerged. Business trends demanded that the technical walls between firm, customer and vendor be relaxed or eliminated. Data must move freely across the extended enterprise. The distinction between clients and servers grew ambiguous and peer-to-peer systems became viable. Also, enterprise software was written in object-oriented code to permit rapid development and provide code reusability.Now that we know the evolution, we should also point out the current state of the art. No function, no process and no transaction is conducted today without a supporting system. On one hand users prefer light touch capabilities at their fingertips at all hours in the form of iPad or iPhone type apps. Ease of use, speed and, intuitive interface are the key determinants of success. Hidden behind this simplicity is a very sophisticated capability to collect, collate, cross reference, analyze a vast amount of data and create superior insights that drive the business networks. Such capability needs best-of-breed software from the vendors in supply chain decision support, business intelligence and predictive modelling. Obviously, the choice of the right vendor is an art form, and we have already discussed the pit-falls to be aware of. Putting together an integrated package of these best-of-breed software is another art form. The current trend in software architecture is to utilize internet based supply chain tools. The features of these tools are service-oriented architecture (SaaS), better graphical user interfaces (GUI), expressive commerce, integrated, interactive software, real-time flow of information (supply chain visibility) and extreme transaction processing (XTP). The future technical architecture will be enterprise wide web mobile and fit-for-purpose portals. Software solutions will have to address the need for connectivity and security. Software will be capable of handling extreme transaction processing. Adoption of XML seems to have a significant impact on next generation enterprise software technical architecture. Other features of next generation technical architecture are service oriented architecture (SoA) and Software as a service (SaaS). With emerging borderless networking solutions and communication capability at the fingertips of even remote sites, the entire Business Network is woven together in an integrated information platform using a variety of fit-for-purpose devices backed-up by big data capability. There is no doubt that the current state-of-the-art will continue to evolve – the world of information technology never stands still. It is for the executives to choose what suits their current and future business needs, and then make it work for their businesses and their Business Network. Those who do so, lay the foundation of success. Why not get your organisation listed in a business directory to help to boost your profile online?