Here is a short note before meeting hundreds of Enterprise Architecture aficionados, gurus, practitioners & professionals in National Harbor this week at the very well-known Gartner EA Summit. When glancing at the agenda, the first thing that comes to mind is – EA has become omnipresent and is interacting either directly or indirectly with 100% of the hot challenges such as Digital Transformation, Cloud Readiness, Internet of Things, Cyber Security and Innovation – the topics that are keeping many executives up at night. The intent of this post is to share “one” view of the EA journey and provide some personal insight into what I think will be the upcoming challenges in our favorite discipline.
For those who have followed & used EA for years, the inner transformation of the discipline has clearly accelerated the last 36 months – perhaps helped (or triggered) by the new waves of managing and delivering IT (for instance: IT4IT). We are facing a revolution where both Business & IT have no other choice but to come together in order to bridge the gap between Strategy and Execution. After years of effort, political games, reorganizations and economics pressures, the Enterprise Architecture discipline is now ready to unlock its entire potential.
Our ever growing practice started with fundamental artifacts and has adapted through time to provide something really unique: an end-to-end traceability model. Despite the headaches caused by building & maintaining very complex meta-models (custom or standards based), EA does a great job linking concepts across the enterprise layers.
The last Magic Quadrant for EA Tools confirms that these tools must become actionable solutions which ideally link to complementary disciplines such as PPM, GRC, ITSM etc. It seems that nothing can stop the Enterprise Architecture evolution – as long as there’ll be enterprise objects, EA will carry on with its growth!
Although there are many complementary disciplines, Enterprise Architecture should remain at the center of our planning. In the past, 10+ years ago, enterprise architects were trying to turn their repository into CMDBs! It caused a huge confusion and it took years for the community to figure out that if we were looking for fact-based information on Configuration Items (CIs), then we needed to rely on CMDBs – which, by the way, were developed for this very specific purpose. The role of EA was then repositioned as a central source of truth which ensured the linkage with objective information, provided by a trusted master of data.
This short flashback is meant to highlight one point: extending the EA perimeter sounds like a good opportunity to break organizational silos and provide better insights to both Business & IT. That said, when comes to managing fast evolving metrics & operational data – guessing/deciding who is the master of the data is no longer an option.
Until decision makers needed a 3,000 feet view, we were safe! Nowadays with our digital world, most of the programs & projects aim at deeply transforming the enterprise; and most of the time, the end products are anything but pieces of software …
So how do we secure confidence in our recommendations when most of the information stored into the EA Repository comes from manual entry? How do we capitalize on the investment we made in EA to provide a smart linkage between objects, projects, people, processes, capabilities, data, applications and technologies? How do we reinforce the discipline without jeopardizing its central positioning?
One of the insights we can use is provided by the previous experience with ITSM, and more specifically CMDB. In other words: create strategic alliances or integrations to leverage the best information from the different yet linked worlds.
Applications have become critical assets for optimizing customer engagement and creating business differentiators. When it comes time to manage hundreds, even thousands of them, subjectivity and guessing must disappear from the radar of options.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of common situations where fact based metrics linked to the application portfolio have become a must have:
- PPM: Create your baseline and assess the scenarios using accurate visibility on your application portfolio health. Once the projects have been launched, monitor the trends to prevent risks & unplanned effort due to software quality
- EA: Exploit the end to end traceability and leverage fact based metrics on applications in order to derive enterprise complexity, business value, technical debt and the overall health of your IT landscape
- APM: Complement your inventory with objective metrics that focus on software quality and compare against your peers through benchmarking. Proactively mitigate risks that might impact the company numbers, customer satisfaction, maintenance costs and the overall complexity of your assets.
In addition to these benefits brought by fact based measurement, the synergy may become a no brainer when EA will have to position even closer to solution architecture & development. Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery are just a few examples that cannot be pushed back/ignored any longer from the Enterprise 360° view.
To conclude, software is everywhere, and every business – whatever the industry – is now in the software business. Applications become products that everyone refers to. There is a good opportunity to create actionable synergies between disciplines by leveraging fact based metrics on these products, across the organization. What do you think? Some have already started!