Tag Archives: Architecture
In my previous blog, I talked about how a business-led approach can displace technology-led projects. Historically IT-led projects have invested significant capital while returning minimal business value. It further talks about how transformation roadmap execution is sustainable because the business is driving the effort where initiative investments are directly traceable to priority business goals.
For example, an insurance company wants to improve the overall customer experience. Mature business architecture will perform an assessment to highlight all customer touch points. It requires a detailed capability map, fully formed, customer-triggered value streams, value stream/ capability cross-mappings and stakeholder/ value stream cross-mappings. These business blueprints allow architects and analysts to pinpoint customer trigger points, customer interaction points and participating stakeholders engaged in value delivery.
One must understand that value streams and capabilities are not tied to business unit or other structural boundaries. This means that while the analysis performed in our customer experience example may have been initiated by a given business unit, the analysis may be universally applied to all business units, product lines and customer segments. Using the business architecture to provide a representative cross-business perspective requires incorporating organization mapping into the mix.
Incorporating the application architecture into the analysis and proposed solution is simply an extension of business architecture mapping that incorporates the IT architecture. Robust business architecture is readily mapped to the application architecture, highlighting enterprise software solutions that automate various capabilities, which in turn enable value delivery. Bear in mind, however, that many of the issues highlighted through a business architecture assessment may not have corresponding software deployments since significant interactions across the business tend to be manual or desktop-enabled. This opens the door to new automation opportunities and new ways to think about business design solutions.
Building and prioritizing the transformation strategy and roadmap is dramatically simplified once all business perspectives needed to enhance customer experience are fully exposed. For example, if customer service is a top priority, then that value stream becomes the number one target, with each stage prioritized based on business value and return on investment. Stakeholder mapping further refines design approaches for optimizing stakeholder engagement, particularly where work is sub-optimized and lacks automation.
Capability mapping to underlying application systems and services provides the basis for establishing a corresponding IT deployment program, where the creation and reuse of standardized services becomes a focal point. In certain cases, a comprehensive application and data architecture transformation becomes a consideration, but in all cases, any action taken will be business and not technology driven.
Once this occurs, everyone will focus on achieving the same goals, tied to the same business perspectives, regardless of the technology involved.
- Home Hubs from Google, Samsung, and Apple (who did not attend the show but still had a significant impact).
- Home Hub Ecosystems providing interoperability with cars, door locks, and household appliances.
- Autonomous cars, and intelligent cars
- Wearable devices such as smart watches and jewelry.
- Drones that take pictures and intelligently avoid obstacles. …Including people trying to block them. There is a bit of a creepy factor here!
- The next generation of 3D printers.
- And the intelligent baby pacifier. The idea is that it takes the baby’s temperature, but I think the sleeper hit feature on this product is the ability to locate it using GPS and a smart phone. How much money would you pay to get your kid to go to sleep when it is time to do so?
Digital Strategies Are Gaining Momentum
There is no escaping the fact that the vast majority of companies out there have active digital strategies, and not just in the consumer space. The question is: Are you going to be the disruptor or the disruptee? Gartner offered an interesting prediction here:
“By 2017, 60% of global enterprise organizations will execute on at least one revolutionary and currently unimaginable business transformation effort.”
It is clear from looking at CES, that a lot of these products are “experiments” that will ultimately fail. But focusing too much on that fact is to risk overlooking the profound changes taking place that will shake out industries and allow competitors to jump previously impassible barriers to entry.
IDC predicted that the Internet of Things market would be over $7 Trillion by the year 2020. We can all argue about the exact number, but something major is clearly happening here. …And it’s big.
Is Your Organization Ready?
A study by Gartner found that 52% of CEOs and executives say they have a digital strategy. The problem is that 80% of them say that they will “need adaptation and learning to be effective in the new world.” Supporting a new “Internet of Things” or connected device product may require new business models, new business processes, new business partners, new software applications, and require the collection and management of entirely new types of data. Simply standing up a new ERP system or moving to a cloud application will not help your organization to deal with the new business models and data complexity.
Architect’s Call to Action
Now is the time (good New Year’s resolution!) to get proactive on your digital strategy. Your CIO is most likely deeply engaged with her business counterparts to define a digital strategy for the organization. Now is the time to be proactive in terms of recommending the IT architecture that will enable them to deliver on that strategy – and a roadmap to get to the future state architecture.
Key Requirements for a Digital-ready Architecture
Digital strategy and products are all about data, so I am going to be very data-focused here. Here are some of the key requirements:
- First, it must be designed for speed. How fast? Your architecture has to enable IT to move at the speed of business, whatever that requires. Consider the speed at which companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook are making IT changes.
- It has to explicitly directly link the business strategy to the underlying business models, processes, systems and technology.
- Data from any new source, inside or outside your organization, has to be on-boarded quickly and in a way that it is immediately discoverable and available to all IT and business users.
- Ongoing data quality management and Data Governance must be built into the architecture. Point product solutions cannot solve these problems. It has to be pervasive.
- Data security also has to be pervasive for the same reasons.
- It must include business self-service. That is the only way that IT is going to be able to meet the needs of business users and scale to the demands of the changes required by digital strategy.
For a webinar on connecting business strategy to the architecture of business transformation see; Next-Gen Architecture: A “Business First” Approach for Agile Architecture. With John Schmidt of Informatica and Art Caston, founder of Proact.
For next-generation thinking on enterprise data architectures see; Think “Data First” to Drive Business Value
For more on business self-service for data preparation and a free software download.
Transformation roadmaps in many businesses tend to have a heavy technology focus, to the point where organizations invest millions of dollars in initiatives with no clear business value. In addition, numerous tactical projects funded each year have little understanding of how or even if, they align from a business perspective. Management often fall victim to the latest technology buzzwords, while stakeholder value, business issues, and strategic considerations take a backseat. When this happens, executives who should be focused on business scenarios to improve stakeholder value fall victim to technology’s promise of the next big thing.
I recently participated in the writing and reviewing a series of whitepapers on Business-led transformation at Informatica’s Strategic Services Group. These whitepapers discusses how executives can leverage business architecture to reclaim their ability to drive a comprehensive transformation strategy and roadmap. I will try to summarize them into this blog.
Consider the nature of most initiatives found within a corporate program office. They generally focus on enhancing one system or another, or in more extreme cases a complete rebuild. The scope of work is bounded by a given system, not by the business focal point, whether that is a particular business capability, stakeholder, or value delivery perspective. These initiatives generally originate within the IT organization, not the business, and launched in response to a specific business need quickly translated into a software enhancement, rewrite, or database project. Too often, however, these projects have myopia and lack an understanding of cross-impacts to other projects, business units, stakeholders, or products. Their scope is constrained, not by a given customer or business focus, but by technology.
Business led transformation delivers a value centric perspective and provides the underlying framework for envisioning and crafting a more comprehensive solution. In some cases, this may begin with a quick fix if that is essential, but this must be accompanied by a roadmap for a more transformative solution. It provides a more comprehensive issue analysis and planning perspective because it offers business specific, business first viewpoints that enable issue analysis and resolution through business transparency.
On November 13, 2014, Informatica acquired the assets of Proact, whose Enterprise Architecture tools and delivery capability link architecture to business strategy. The BOST framework is now the Informatica Business Transformation Toolkit which received high marks in a recent research paper:
“(BOST) is a framework that provides four architectural views of the enterprise (Business, Operational, Systems, and Technology). This EA methodology plans and organizes capabilities and requirements at each view, based on evolving business and opportunities. It is one of the most finalized of the methodologies, in use by several large enterprises.”  (more…)
This got me thinking: What is the biggest bottleneck in the delivery of business value today? I know I look at things from a data perspective, but data is the biggest bottleneck. Consider this prediction from Gartner:
“Gartner predicts organizations will spend one-third more on app integration in 2016 than they did in 2013. What’s more, by 2018, more than half the cost of implementing new large systems will be spent on integration. “
When we talk about application integration, we’re talking about moving data, synchronizing data, cleansing, data, transforming data, testing data. The question for architects and senior management is this: Do you have the Data Foundation for Execution you need to drive the business results you require to compete? The answer, unfortunately, for most companies is; No.
All too often data management is an add-on to larger application-based projects. The result is unconnected and non-interoperable islands of data across the organization. That simply is not going to work in the coming competitive environment. Here are a couple of quick examples:
- Many companies are looking to compete on their use of analytics. That requires collecting, managing, and analyzing data from multiple internal and external sources.
- Many companies are focusing on a better customer experience to drive their business. This again requires data from many internal sources, plus social, mobile and location-based data to be effective.
When I talk to architects about the business risks of not having a shared data architecture, and common tools and practices for enterprise data management, they “get” the problem. So why aren’t they addressing it? The issue is that they find that they are only funded to do the project they are working on and are dealing with very demanding timeframe requirements. They have no funding or mandate to solve the larger enterprise data management problem, which is getting more complex and brittle with each new un-connected project or initiative that is added to the pile.
Studies such as “The Data Directive” by The Economist show that organizations that actively manage their data are more successful. But, if that is the desired future state, how do you get there?
Changing an organization to look at data as the fuel that drives strategy takes hard work and leadership. It also takes a strong enterprise data architecture vision and strategy. For fresh thinking on the subject of building a data foundation for execution, see “Think Data-First to Drive Business Value” from Informatica.
* By the way, Informatica is proud to announce that we are now a sponsor of the MIT Center for Information Systems Research.
If you have been following publications in the Potential at Work Community or any number of Linkedin discussions such this one on the DrJJ group (a think-tank for information management best practices), you will have noticed the Agile methodology topic come up time and time again. For instance, check out the article Architect Your Way From Sluggish to Speed or the video Focus on Agility Adaptability. It hasn’t always been this way. For many years the architectural focus was on RASP.
In this video, Rob Karel, vice president of product strategy, Informatica, outlines the Informatica Data Governance Framework, highlighting the 10 facets that organizations need to focus on for an effective data governance initiative:
- Vision and Business Case to deliver business value
- Tools and Architecture to support architectural scope of data governance
- Policies that make up data governance function (security, archiving, etc.)
- Measurement: measuring the level of influence of a data governance initiative and measuring its effectiveness (business value metrics, ROI metrics, such as increasing revenue, improving operational efficiency, reducing risk, reducing cost or improving customer satisfaction)
- Change Management: incentives to workforce, partners and customers to get better quality data in and potential repercussions if data is not of good quality
- Organizational Alignment: how the organization will work together across silos
- Dependent Processes: identifying data lifecycles (capturing, reporting, purchasing and updating data into your environment), all processes consuming the data and processes to store and manage the data
- Program Management: effective program management skills to build out communication strategy, measurement strategy and a focal point to escalate issues to senior management when necessary
- Define Processes that make up the data governance function (discovery, definition, application and measuring and monitoring).
For more information from Rob Karel on the Informatica Data Governance Framework, visit his Perspectives blogs.
Those moving to cloud computing have their work cut out of for them. They need to pick a parcel of data, applications, or both to migrate to a cloud-based service. Or, perhaps build a system from the ground up on a cloud platform.
In any event, you need a few things to insure success, including a good architecture, a deployment plan, and a sound data integration strategy. (more…)
Those who understand data integration and the supporting technology are in high demand. Why? The need to create data synergy within enterprises, among both traditional and cloud computing-based data and applications, is inflecting. This is due to a more clearly understood business benefit around the value of data integration.
The ability to have information arrive on-time and when needed has been a fundamental need of IT since I wrote the EAI book over a decade ago. However, in the last few years, systems became more complex, including the complexity of the data that exists within them. In response, data integration grew more complex, the technology more sophisticated, and thus the increase in the demand for data integration talent. (more…)
Because there is real need! Period! Even after investing heavily in agile architecture approaches such as SOA, IT organizations are finding it extremely challenging to solve complex data integration issues.
If you are involved in defining or re-defining a data architecture to enable composite applications and portals to effectively leverage data in an SOA, here is where the discussions are happening.
If you are looking to enhance your existing data architecture to ensure that business intelligence reports can quickly leverage data that is not in your data warehouse, you will find your answers here.