“Good morning Mr. CIO! Please come in!”Mr. CIO:
“Good morning Doc! Your office looks different!”Dr.EA:
“Yes! I am glad you noticed! Once a while, I move things around in my office! I get bored looking at the same thing the same way for a long time! Did you socialize our last week’s conversation with anyone?Mr. CIO:
“Sure! I did. I had a conversation with my boss and briefed her on our last week’s conversation. She was very supportive of us to continue this engagement. She likes to see what changes, we think, are needed to the way we operate, plan, organize, govern, and manage our projects. She is also interested in any suggestions that we might have on how to set goals, priorities and allocate resources. She asked me how the EA process would work. This is what I told her:
- First, we will discover and document the current environment. This will include strategy, goals, offerings, organization, processes, IT landscape, assets, capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, customers, suppliers, partners, culture, …
- Second, we will identify the right things for our firm and then use them to define and document a target environment that will enable us to become the industry leader. I told her that the definition of the target environment would define "the to be" strategy, goals, organizational structure, culture, governance, management system, offerings, IT landscape, resources, clients, partners, suppliers,…
- Third, we will perform a gap analysis between the current and target environments.
- Fourth, we will prioritize gaps and develop a practical road map to bridge the gap with a focus on creating capabilities that deliver business values. The road map might include changes in governance, organization, culture, process, and technology.
- Fifth, we will put a management system in place to measure the progress and regularly check our target against world and business realities to make necessary adjustments as needed.
I told her that we will use a framework, recommended by you, to go through this process. I also mentioned that you had agreed to support us through the entire process.Dr.EA:
“Yes, Indeed!”Mr. CIO:
“She volunteered to make herself available to help us to identify the right scope for the program and get the necessary support from other groups.”Dr.EA:
“That is great! Did she make any suggestions on how she would like the program to proceed?”Mr. CIO:
“Yes, She had a few suggestions too:
- First, plan for early and frequent value delivery to the business as part of the roadmap;
- Second, get early buy-in from business units by engaging them, early, in the process;
- Third, have the right scope for the program and avoid a bing-bang approach;
- Fourth, create a sense of urgency for the EA program;
- Fifth, be agile in every step of the process;
- Sixth, establish a pro-active communication plan."
“Those are excellent points! You are lucky to have such a wise coach as your boss! Did she give you any cautionary advice?"Mr. CIO:
"Actually she did. Here are some of them:
- First, She really liked the step 5 of our process where we systematically check our target to make sure that targets defined in the past are still valid. She requested we ask independent groups to do that assessment. Her concern was that the same group who defined the target in the past might not be able to do an objective assessment of validity of that target in today's environment.
- Second she said we need to make sure the EA will not become a barrier for the innovation. Her concern was if we enforce EA as the way, then it would be difficult to have innovative ideas to emerge. She would like to see our proposal on how EA and innovation processes will co-exist and complement each other.
- Third,She wants us to leverage lessons-learned and best practices from others who have gone through the EA journey. She cautioned against a pure academic approach and asked for a balance between academic and practical aspects of EA. She asked we seek outside support in the entire process.
- Fourth, She asked leveraging, as much as possible, our existing people and resources in the EA program. She cautioned against creating an Ivory organization.
- Fifth, She asked if there is an EA maturity model that we can use to measure our progress. I promised her to talk to you and include that in our proposal."
"Excellent points! I really like to meet your boss! Hope that could be arranged some time!"Mr. CIO:
“Yes, She is a wise leader and a great coach! We need to present our EA proposal to her and get her approval. I am counting on you to join me when presenting the proposal."Dr.EA:
"Sure! I will be there!"Mr. CIO:
"Thanks! I am ready to learn how to identify the right thing!”Dr.EA:
“Would you like to have a cup of coffee or a glass of water before we start?”Mr. CIO:
“Coffee would be great! I can use some caffeine!”.Dr.EA:
”In that case, let’s walk to our cafeteria to get some good and fresh coffee. On the way, I will introduce you to some of my colleagues too!”Mr. CIO:
“That would be great! Let's do it!”.
I am an adjunct faculty at University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas. My experience in business and academia provides me with a unique insight into the gaps between the skills that the industry needs and the skills the universities hone. One of those gaps is teaching students in both business and technology programs on how to align business needs and IT capabilities and maximize benefits from IT investments. In other words, teaching them “how to do the right things the right way”!
After bringing this point up consistently in faculty meetings, a few years ago I was challenged to create a course and teach it the following semester. That is exactly what I did by creating a graduate level course on enterprise architecture! I have been teaching the “Enterprise Architecture and Development” course for more than four years in a graduate program at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Consequently, I designed another graduate level course, "Strategic Information Systems", to teach “IT-enabled Business Transformation” for the same program.
I frequently get interesting and unforgettable questions from students. One of those questions came from one my best students, a successful IT professional. He asked me why he should take the “Enterprise Architecture and Development” course after taking a number of courses in software engineering and software architecture. He wanted to know what new things he would learn in this new course. I told him that the traditional software engineering related courses were designed to teach students about software development life cycle and how to select, use, and create capabilities, tools and processes to solve a given problem or satisfy a given requirement. In other words, they teach how to do the things the right way!
I told him let’s assume that an enterprise is an organization with a number of autonomous divisions that share a set of common goals at the enterprise level. He quickly named a few enterprises that he was familiar with including his own employer. Then we talked about some of the challenges that each enterprise faces particularly in the current global challenging environment. We both agreed that the some enterprises are inflexible and lack business agility partially because of a silo-based IT and business landscapes which might be the result of a silo-based management system and a silo-based organization and culture. We also agreed that the reason for existence of a silo-based IT infrastructure was not because the technical professionals use the wrong software engineering method or tooling but because they were given requirements that didn’t take the benefit of the enterprise into consideration. Then we both agreed that what is missing is a practical approach for identification, planning, execution, and management of the right projects, initiatives, or requirements to maximize the benefit for the enterprise while providing capabilities that divisions need to meet their goals. I agreed with him that the missing practical approach must provide the right balance between control, innovation, and flexibility. We also agreed that silo-based challenges were not limited only to large and global enterprises but could exist in small and medium size businesses too.
He told me that the courses that he had taken had taught him to do the things the right way but not to identify the right things for the enterprise. I told him that the new “Enterprise Architecture and Development” course was intended to fill that gap. He took the course. He did well in the course. At the end of the semester, he told me that he had been taught of ways to identify the right things for the enterprise and do them the right way and now it was up to him to convince his management on the role of enterprise architecture by telling them what would be the consequence of not having an active enterprise architecture program and work with them to find a practical way to put what he has learned in the classroom into the action to build a smarter enterprise.
I decided to share some of Dr. EA’s stories with you. I know you don’t know him. If you are not on this page by accident, then you would be interested in his stories. He practices and teaches EA. He knows how to extend academic EA by lessons-learned gained from implementing EA to avoid creating "Shelfware EA". He also knows which aspects of academic EA is useful in the practice. He frequently meets with business and technical executives and decision makers including CIOs and Chief Architects to help them to do the right thing for the enterprise. This is the first story. A CIO asks him if he needs to establish an EA program:
Dr. EA: “Come in Mr. CIO. It is good to see you again. What gave me the pleasure of meeting you today?”
Mr. CIO: “Doc! I need help! I want to know if I should start an EA program or not.”
Dr. EA: “Why are you thinking about EA? Last time that we talked, you told me that everything was on track! What has changed since then?”
Mr. CIO: “Honestly, nothing has changed but I have been wondering if we are doing the right thing for the firm.”
Dr. EA: “Why did you suddenly start worrying about that? Has anything changed in the company? It seems you are also losing sleep over this. Don’t you?”
Mr. CIO: “Sure! I do! I have been following the news about what has been happening to many firms in our industry and other industries. Until recently, some of them appeared to be untouchable and would be around forever. Now, they are filing for bankruptcies and their futures are uncertain. I talked to some of my friends in those companies and they didn’t have any clue, until a few months ago, that such a thing would happen to them. They didn’t have any indication that they had been offering and producing wrong products for today’s market. They didn’t have any clue that world’s dynamic had changed so they kept running their business the same as before and thought what had worked in the past would work in the future too. They were in delusion of having security and industry leadership! They didn’t have any indication that they were not doing the right thing for their future. I am afraid that we might be in the same situation too! The other day, I saw Einstein’s quote saying that it is insanity doing the same thing and expecting different result. So I want to know how to avoid those disasters!”
Dr. EA: “My friend! You have good reasons to worry. You are not alone too! I have talked to many other business leaders who worry about the same issues! As you know very well, it is not enough just to worry, you need to take the right set of actions…"
Mr. CIO: “Doc! That is exactly why I am here! I need an honest and wise outside-in advice. How would I know what the right thing is and how to do it? I just want to hear from someone who has gone through this process before! I know that there is no silver bullet and a pure academic approach will not yield what I am looking for.”
Dr. EA: “Fair! Why did you think of EA?”
Mr. CIO: “Many of my peers in other companies have been telling me about their EA programs. Recently, I had an executive interview with one of our star performers. He told me about what he learned in an enterprise architecture class that he took with you at university. He said if we examine our projects from an enterprise point of view not our traditional business unit or silo perspective, we might found out many of them had wrong scope and their outcomes could not be leveraged in other parts of firm. He blamed our slow responsiveness to the way we run projects. He said that our silo approach to running projects has been wasting our resources. He said we need a holistic way of looking at our projects. He said we might need an EA program... Do I really need an EA program?”
Dr. EA: “Is there anything else that keeps you awake at nights?”
Mr. CIO: “Yes, there are a few others:
- First, it is difficult to get my peers in business side happy. They always ask for capabilities that we do not have, even we don't have them in our plans. It also seems they do not know what to do with some our deliverables. There were times that it seemed they didn't need what we had delivered!
- Second, it seems always IT is bottleneck for everything that business wants to do. Last quarter, a major product release was delayed because we were not able to complete integration of three tools developed by three teams when it was needed. These tools were developed without any coordination and standardization.
- Third, ninety percent of our budget is spent on operations , i.e. running our current legacy systems. There is not that much left to fund transformation initiatives. It seems we cannot replace legacy systems. In a few situations, we found a way to develop replacements for legacy systems. Since they didn't deliver all necessary capabilities, the legacy systems were not replaced and now we have to maintain two systems!... Recently, I hired an external consultant to assess our operations from an enterprise view. Her report included a CBM heatmap showing that we develop piecemeal and overlapping solutions. However, my direct reports are telling me that their projects are response to requirements coming from their corresponding business teams. Interestingly enough, they typically do not know about each other projects and they were shocked to see that much overlapping between them.
- Fourth, we have an army of people who, manually, link our disconnected systems. For example, when we get an order for a solution that includes products and services from three business units, we spilt the order into three separate orders and send them to three separate ordering systems. Each business unit has its own ordering system. Unfortunately, we do not have an automatic way to provide the status of the entire order when needed. Instead, we have a number of support staff querying these separate ordering systems and then combine results manually. It doesn't look a good way of doing things in 21st century!
- Fifth, we don’t have a reliable inventory and profile of our existing assets and projects.
- Sixth, we don’t have a good way of predicting what resources and capabilities are needed in five years from now. Honestly, architecture diagrams don’t help me to predict anything for future. I am not certain what problems they are supposed to solve and how they are used!
- Seventh, we cannot afford to continue running the business this way… As you see, there are enough reasons for change! I want the right change! It needs to be done soon too! What bothers me is that the need for change is not felt by all of our leaders! I want to drive the change not let the change comes to me and my team!
“Why don’t you take some water and take a breath and give me a few minutes to talk… First
, it might help you to feel better if you knew that you are not alone! I have talked to many other CIOs during the past six months. Most of them have the same challenges as yours…Second
, I am quite certain that you will find the right solution for your firm because you are taking the right steps and know that this is an urgent issue for which a quick solution doesn't exist… Your CEO should be proud of you… Now, let me summarize what I thought I heard:
- There is misalignment between technical and business organizations. Goals, programs, and projects are not synchronized cross business and technical teams. There are serious gaps between needs of business teams and capabilities that your team delivers.
- Your organization uses an inside-out approach to initiate and design solutions instead of an outside-in approach. That means, most of the time, your team assumes and guesses what business wants instead of taking the time to identify real needs and develop capabilities to meet them. I know there is a place for exploring new and cool technologies in every firm but there is a limit for that too ...
- A target architecture doesn’t exist for your firm. Thus, you don’t know how your IT landscape will look like in five years from now. Therefore, you do not have the right information to decide what to outsource and whom to partner with. Consequently, there is no roadmap to get to that future too…
- Piecemeal project development looks to be norm in your organization and that’s consuming most of your resources… There are silo mentality and silo culture across your firm that drives these piecemeal projects.
- There are overlapping and duplicate efforts cross your projects. The culture of asset reuse and creating reusable assets doesn’t exist in your firm. It should be difficult to explain how any of these projects differentiate your firm from the competition and how they support the firm’s mission…
- Many of your people including some of your leaders may not know what the firm’s strategy is… In other words, groups do not have a common purpose and shared set of values...
- There should be inconsistency of behavior and decisions within your firm. The same question directed to different groups will most likely yield different answers.
- I guess it is not clear who has the responsibility for cross business unit items such as end-to-end requirements and deliverables. For example, how one group would know that their projects do not contradict with what another team is doing… Shareholders and customers who deal with more that one business unit might not like the way things are… You don't have a real governance program in place!
- Every project takes lots of time and costs millions of dollar...
My friend! Are these your concerns? Did I hear you correctly?"Mr. CIO:
“Exactly! Can EA solve them?”Dr. EA:
“First thing first! There is no single EA program that fits all! You need to define the right EA program for your organization. There are frameworks, methods, tools, and approaches that have worked in situations like yours and can help you too… A successful implementation of the right EA program for your organization could help you to address many of those concerns. As the executive responsible for the EA program, you need to set realistic but valuable goals for the program. You should put your full support behind the program and be prepared to make the right changes in process, culture, organization, and technology because EA is more than another way of creating technical architecture. It is important to document the current landscape, identify the right thing for your firm and team, define a target architecture for the future, and finally define and implement a practical and realistic roadmap that delivers frequent and early value to the business… Please keep in mind that the EA is not a magic button that you could push and everything, magically, turns out to become different… It requires planning, organizational learning, right culture, governance, new processes, active engagement of key stakeholders, and obviously the right scope and priorities… The EA should guide your firm to allocate resources to the right initiatives and train the right skills... The world is changing what gets defined today as the target, may not be adequate five years from now. The EA is a journey not a destination. Thus, targets and goals must be reviewed and adjusted as frequently as make sense for your business... The right EA enables business agility by using principles like separation of concern, loose coupling, high cohesion, and information hiding. The only constant in the real world is change and you need to prepare for it by design not accident!…"Mr. CIO:
“Doc. What is the next step?”Dr. EA:
“Mr. CIO 1.0! Our time is up for today. Let’s get together next week to discuss next step… ”Mr. CIO:
“Doc. You called me CIO 1.0. Is there other types of CIO?”Dr. EA:
“Sure, CIO 2.0! IBM's CIO is a good example. Let's talk about CIO 2.0 another time…”
Mr. CIO: “Many thanks Doc! I feel much better now! Do I need to bring anything with me next week?”
Dr. EA: “Today, we identified the problem and agreed on some of its characteristics. That is a major accomplishment by itself. Many of your peers in other companies still need to do that! Next week, we will talk about how to identify the right thing for your team… Please bring your firm’s business and technical strategies, list of your current IT capabilities and who uses them, list of your current projects and why they are needed, and the five things that your CEO wants to be done in the next three years.”
Mr. CIO: “It might take more than a week to put all of them together! Some of them may not exist! I’ll do my best and be here the same time next week. Do I need to bring anyone else with me? “
Dr. EA: “Please bring whoever can help us to discuss strategies, current capabilities, current key projects, major pain points, and future expectations…”
Mr. CIO: “OK. I’ll do my best. See you next week Doc!”
Dr. EA: “Good luck my friend! See you next week.”
Enterprise Architecture is all about the change
. It is aimed at changing the way an enterprise sees itself and the world and how to operate in this flat world. I have experienced and felt the need for many types of changes while engaged in establishing, defining, implementing, and leading enterprise architecture programs. I have enjoyed leading initiatives to make some of those changes. I also teach a graduate level course on "Enterprise Architecture and Development" as adjunct faculty at University of Minnesota and University of St. Thomas. This topic always generates many interesting discussions in the classroom. Below are a number of ways that Enterprise Architecture could bring change to an enterprise by
- Changing the enterprise to focus on "doing the right things" while "doing the things right".
- Changing the enterprise to understand and document its current state and then define its desirable state to realize its strategy and then build that desired state one project at a time by delivering frequent and early business value instead of building enterprise like Winchester Mystery House (i.e. building a house without a blueprint).
- Changing the enterprise to see itself as a whole and avoid the Elephant and Blind Men story for the enterprise.
- Changing the enterprise to have its business and technical teams to socialize, discuss, and debate their strengths, weaknesses, market opportunities and threads to define a set of aggressive but realistic value propositions to be realized and delivered by a set of joint capabilities aimed at making them to succeed in this flat world.
- Changing the enterprise to have simple, easy to understand, explicit and documented business and technical strategies which are not secret and are known by both technical and business teams and are used to define the scope of enterprise architecture program.
- Changing the enterprise to have an integrated governance to ensure that enterprise resources are allocated to the right things defined by a live enterprise architecture program.
- Changing the enterprise to have active participation and support from business units in creation and maintenance of enterprise architecture. This active involvement will be a catalyst to increase consumption and adoption of enterprise architecture by project teams while making sure that the enterprise architecture has the right scope.
- Changing the enterprise to create a useful and realistic enterprise architecture that could be used by decision makers to predict and plan future needs of enterprise including IT and human needs of future.
- Changing the enterprise to create an enterprise architecture that fits to the purpose of enterprise and could help to create the desired organizational structure and culture to create an agile enterprise.
- Changing the enterprise so it could train and acquire the right set of skills (e.g. enterprise architects).
- Changing the enterprise so technical and business teams are not leaving in separate worlds but using shared principles and value systems to integrate their capabilities to deliver business value to firm's primary stakeholders.
- Changing the enterprise to use enterprise architecture to innovate and establish a sense of urgency for doing the right thing for the world
I know, it is a big list! I stopped typing since I had to give time to another project and my fingers were tired too! My intension was not to scare you but to point out that the success of an enterprise architecture program requires more than selecting a framework like TOGAF or Zachman. Enterprise Architecture Program is a business transformation initiative. As it is always is the case, new comers can benefit from others who have already started this journey. Inside IBM, we started this journey, as part of our internal IT-enabled business transformation, a number of years ago. You can find some information in IBM's CIO's recent interview, Special Issue of IBM System Journal, Let Go Grow by Linda Sanford, and Who Says Elephants Can't Dance: Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround by Lou Grestner.
If you started thinking about the change management, you are not alone. In a recent CEO study conducted by IBM, most CEO's consider themselves and their organizations to be executing change poorly. As a result, IBM conducted a study on how to make change work. It is an interesting and eye opening study. You can find the study's result here.
Let me give you some inspirational quotes on how and when to make change. I posted them in IBM's internal Facebook-like social networking tool called Beehive and a few of my colleagues liked them. you may like them too!
Like always, I love to hear from you.
Until next posting![Read More]
Dr.EA and Mr. CIO are back to the Dr. EA's office.Mr. CIO:
"Doc, let's talk about how we could discover the right thing for our enterprise."Dr. EA:
"This is the area that I will ask for help from my friends who are strategy consultants. They will study your industry, market, customers, and partners to identify and document competition, opportunities, threads, trends, and innovation that are relevant to the future of your firm. Then we -you & your team, strategy consultants and my EA team - will hold a number of workshops inviting the right players from your firm to discover and document the current capabilities, projects, initiatives, and pain points. Finally, we will combine results of those steps to define the right thing for your team to focus on. Needless to say that they need to be reviewed and approved by you senior executives and get their buy-in and support."Mr. CIO:
"They will ask for value and risk analysis of any proposal".Dr. EA:
"You are absolutely right. Our work is not complete until we have done such analysis and know exactly what values the EA proposal will deliver. We will also need to articulate what be the risk of not doing EA."Mr. CIO:
"I am all for this! Could you give a little bit of insight to methods that will be used in this stage?"Dr. EA:
"Sure! Actually, we will hold a training session with key players from your firm to go through the entire process and discuss the purpose and value of each activity. Basically, the objective is to apply Component Business Model (CBM) to identify the right initiatives, projects and scope... We will study your business and industry from a variety of dimensions and combine the results to define the right thing."
Mr. CIO: "What are some of specific steps?"
Dr. EA: "We will use a variety of templates and techniques to document your current capabilities, pain points and ongoing projects and initiatives. We might use Strategic Capability Network (SCN) in this stage. SCN provides a systematic approach to identify and relate existing resources and capabilities to value propositions. We can use SCN when defining the details of future state too."
Mr. CIO: "How about competition?"
Dr. EA: "We will use techniques and templates to identify and document competitive forces similar to the ones researched by Michael Porter. It will include identification and analysis of current competitors, bargaining power of suppliers and customers, threat of substitutive products and services, and threat of new entrants in your industry..."
Mr. CIO: “How about new market opportunities?”
Dr. EA: “Good question! We will also conduct SWOT Analysis to identify market opportunities and market threads. As part of this step, we will analyze the information we identified about the current environment to document your strengths and weaknesses in the context of taking advantage of market opportunities and responding to market threads…”
Mr. CIO: “This looks to be a comprehensive and holistic approach. We will combine
to define the right thing. “
- the analysis result of the current environment,
- current pain points,
- results of SCN relating our resources and capabilities to firm's value propositions,
- analysis of competitive forces,
- results of SWOT analysis,
- and innovation and new trends in our industry
Dr. EA: “Right! The next step is to identify who should participate in this step from your firm and get their commitments for their active participation.”
Mr. CIO: “I agree!”
Dr. EA: “Based on today’s discussion, you should be able to identify them. Agree?”
Mr. CIO: “Yes. Give me two weeks to work on this.”
Dr. CIO: “Sure. Let’s plan to get together in two weeks. I’d like to have the next meeting in your office. Is that OK?”
Mr. CIO: ” Sure! Let’s plan for it!”
Dr. EA: “Thanks. See you in two weeks!”
Mr. CIO: “Thanks for the great session today! Have a great day!”
Dr. EA: “You too!”[Read More
semester, I teach a graduate level course on strategic information systems at University
of St. Thomas. In addition to the textbook, Corporate
Information Strategy and Management: Text and Cases, I use case studies
from Harvard Business School, virtual guest speakers, and my own experience in
transforming IBM to discuss IT-enabled business transformation. To give
you a flavor of topics that I cover, let’s take a look at a few sentences from
technology (IT) has always been a wildcard in business, a source of opportunity
and uncertainty, of advantage and risk. Business executives have often
viewed the IT function with apprehension, as the province of technocrats
primarily interested in new features that may have little relevance to real-world
business problems. Technology executives have often considered business
managers to be short-sighted, lacking the vision to exploit all the technology
has to offer. Both struggle as they attempt to implement increasingly
complex systems in the face of rapid change in business and technology.”
an example, we usually have a lively class when discussing The
IT Doesn’t Matter. Most students disagree with Nicholas Carr! I
also teach another graduate level course on “Enterprise Architecture and
Development”. In these courses, I present a holistic approach to
IT-enabled business transformation by describing the world form the eyes of
business and IT groups and discussing principles and roadmaps for bridging them
to do the right things the right way for the enterprise. My experience in
business operation, business transformation, systems thinking, and IT becomes
handy when teaching these two courses to my intelligent and curious students
form business and engineering programs!
few weeks ago, we discussed how legacy systems have become a major trouble and
inhibitor for enterprises in search of efficiency, agility, and the ability to
innovate. We discussed the difficulties that arise from legacy systems
including (a few to mention here) technology problems, residual process
complexity, local adaptation, and nonstandard data definitions. The class
discussion led to the fact that many of the ongoing IT projects are building
systems with similar difficulties and characteristics of existing legacy
systems since they are not addressing the issues that created today’s legacy
systems. In other words, these new systems will become our future
legacy systems! As Einstein said once it is insanity to do the same thing
and expect different results! We also had interesting discussions on how
to avoid future troubled legacy applications.
organizations, like most humans, have a tendency to jump to solutions,
especially when they are under pressure.
They do not have time or patient to understand the problem before
jumping to a solution. That is why we
see projects solving the wrong problems or using the wrong solutions! To a person with a hammer, everything in the
world looks like a nail!
disturbing is when the organizational climate and culture discourage people who
might see the mismatch between solution and problem to speak out. The Emperor’s
new cloth story becomes real!
above argument applies to enterprises too.
Before selecting any solution, one needs to understand the problem. It starts with asking the right
questions. Below are samples of questions
that many EA teams deal with. Finding the
right, practical, and proven answer for them helps EA teams to be effective and
focus on the right areas. Working on IBM's internal transformation, helping many clients, and doing research on enterprise computing have given me many opportunities to deal with questions like these.
- How do
I get started on EA?
- How do
I convince my executives that we need EA?
can I get the business team excited about EA?
- How do
I know that my team is focusing on the right areas? Some EA teams have lost funding since
they have not been considered to be focusing on what is critical to the
can I build trust in the EA team?
- How can
I convince the enterprise that areas like security and architecture must
be dealt with at the enterprise level not local/department level?
technical team completed a project.
We were so excited that we had created an excellent
capability. But my clients were not
as excited as we were. It seemed
they didn’t care/need the new capability!
What do I need to do to avoid developing the wrong solution?
types of skills do I need in my EA team?
How can I build the right set of skills in my organization? Is there a systematic way to transfer
can I measure and track the ROI in EA and IT projects?
is the best way to deal with merger and acquisition (e.g. integrating new
data and applications, difference in business model, redundancy and
- How to
operationalize the strategy and EA concepts?
- How to
leverage the investments in so called legacy systems?
- How to
get more from my current IT investments?
- How do
we know what we have (e.g. IT assets, data, resources) and what we are
spending on them? How should we
track them at the enterprise level?
How do I know which of them should be kept and which ones should be
can I determine what to outsource?
- How to
deal with challenges of global teams?
knowledge and asset sharing
them to feel they have a career
them to feel that they are an equal member of global team regardless of
where they are
- How to
create a culture of innovation and invention in the organization?
- How to
balance control and autonomy within the organization?
- How to
use analytics to optimize the enterprise operations?
- How to
replace legacy and silo systems with an ERP system?
have a big data mess. How should we
deal with it in a systematic manner?
don’t know what we have
much is spent at the enterprise level
is hard to say if we are safeguarding our data correctly. It also costs us lots money to comply
with all legal requirements (e.g. security, privacy, backup, disaster
have incidents that our data was compromised and lost and had a big
negative on our reputation.
data quality. We are spending a
lot money on it but it seems it is not getting better
of duplication and redundancy
is difficult to get actionable information out of our data
are having problem to integrate data from different sources (internal and
have put lots of our data into packages applications. Now it is difficult
to use them for other needs and integrate them with the data that reside
outside those packaged applications
is a lack of trust on data
applications blame our data bases for their performance issues.
is growing fast and we do not have a strategy how to deal with our data
in a systematic manner.
A few weeks ago, one of my students asked me to blog again!
I am back for
Month of June was a busy month for me traveling all over the
country. I spoke at Rational Software 2011 Innovation Conference in Orlando, Gartner 2011 EA Summit in San Diego, and Center of the Application of Information Technology (CAIT) of University of Washington in Saint Louis. In all these
events, I talked about IBM’s internal transformation towards a smarter enterprise from an Enterprise
The story starts like this.
In 1990, IBM was the second most profitable company in the world. Then it lost a huge amount of money from
1991-1993 and was in serious troubles. In
1993, IBM’s Board of Directors took Einstein’s advice that problems cannot
be solved using the same level of thinking that created them and hired Lou Gerstner, an outsider, not from IT industry, to turnaround the IBM. IBM became profitable again in 1994. IBM is transformed into a Globally Integrated Enterprise where the whole is larger than sum of its parts. We celebrated IBM’s 100th birthday less
than a month ago. We are working hard to make the planet a smarter place while having
our eyes on IBM’s 2015 roadmap. IBM is an
example of q company built to last.
There are many lessons-learned from IBM’s turnaround journey
that could be leveraged by others. An organization doesn’t
need to be the same size as IBM to benefit from IBM's internal transformation experience. Many of those lessons, approaches, and methods are applicable to smaller organizations too. As I stated above, I have been busy sharing the IBM’s transformation journey from an Enterprise Architecture perspective with the
world. I will start sharing some of them
You hear from almost everyone that "for an IT project to be
relevant, it must enable the business value creation". That is what
keeps IT professionals and IT executives awake at nights! The key
questions that they are dealing with are:
- Who should identify and certify the business value of IT
capabilities? The group that funds the project or the ones who use the
- What is business value? Is it the same across industries,
organizations, enterprises? How are they prioritized? How are they
quantified? How are they measured and tracked?
- Is a past business value still considered to be a business value today and in the future? What are the indicators when an existing IT capability stops being relevant to the business and needs to be retired or replaced?
Being heavily engaged in IBM's own IT-enabled business transformation, I
have dealt with these and many other similar questions. One important
lesson from IBM's internal IT-enabled transformation has been that one
cannot approach this huge challenge in an ad hoc or heroic manner. It
requires a systematic, purposeful, and holistic approach. It should be
enterprise wide (regardless of how large an enterprise is) and
integrated into the operational and governance management systems.
There will not be enough space and time to go through everything here.
In this posting, let me just focus on what is typically considered as
"business value" in many organizations.
To identify what the business values are, one needs to understand "in
what business an organization is" and "what the key focus areas of the
organization are". Typical focus areas (not mutually exclusive) of
- Growth: Looking for ways to increase revenue by expanding into new markets, bringing new products to the market, expanding the customer base, ...
- Productivity: Looking for
ways to do more with less through automation, business process
simplification, waste reduction, increasing the reuse and sharing across
the enterprise, outsourcing, ....
change: Another lesson from IBM's internal IT-enabled
transformation is that "a viable solution to non-trivial business
problems is consistent of technology, process, management system (organization, governance), and culture".
Thus, implementing and deploying capabilities to improve growth and
productivity most likely require cultural and behavioral changes.
After understanding the focus areas and what major business plays
are for each focus area, the technical team should work with the
business team to define and validate the IT capabilities that are needed
and will enable creation of and delivery of business values. The
technical team need to realize that the business and market environments
change, thus the IT capabilities cannot be rigid and difficult to
change. That is all about "agile enterprise" which I will discuss
Let’s take a close look at the "growth". Some companies grow through Mergers and Acquisition (MA) and others through organic expansions. A successful MA requires ability to integrate
all aspects of two companies including customers and products in addition to identification and
elimination of duplications and redundancy in every aspect of business including operations. If investments in IT enable and accelerate activities
like these and help the MA to succeed then IT is generating business values. A company that grows organically deals with different set of challenges and opportunities, thus requiring different set of
IT enablement capabilities.
For a technical leader or a technical organization
to be relevant in today's business environment, it needs to have a good
understanding of business,
including its direction, roadmap, priorities, challenges, opportunities, and
its competitive landscape (see Porter’s five competitive
forces). That is what is called business and technical
alignment when defining Enterprise Architecture. A technical leader capable of aligning business and IT is a T-Shaped
Most university programs are not designed to train T-Shaped
graduates. The challenge is left to us in the business world. Successful organizations know
to train T-shaped business and technical professionals and leaders who
can consistently generate business values from the IT investments.
There is a misconception about the Enterprise Architecture
(EA). Some think that the concepts
and approaches discussed in EA are for large organizations and do not apply to
small and mid size organizations. That
misconception is rooted in using term “enterprise” to name the EA
discipline. To clarify this let me offer
a definition for enterprise. Enterprise
is an organization that has a number of (3 and more) autonomous groups which
share a set of common goals.
Now if you
have a business (regardless of its size) which has sales, engineering/product,
marketing, finance, procurement, and HR departments (either in house or
outsource) where each of them has their own goals and focus areas (i.e. autonomous
group) and are expected to work/support/collaborate/partner with one another to make the business successful
(i.e. common goal) then you have an enterprise and could benefit from many (not all) of
the EA concepts and approaches.