If you Want Business to “Own” the Data, You Need to Build An Architecture For the Business

If you build an IT Architecture, it will be a constant up-hill battle to get business users and executives engaged and take ownership of data governance and data quality. In short you will struggle to maximize the information potential in your enterprise. But if you develop and Enterprise Architecture that starts with a business and operational view, the dynamics change dramatically. To make this point, let’s take a look at a case study from Cisco.To quote Russ Conway, Director of Business Architecture at Cisco:

These four views of the architecture (Business, Operations, Systems and Technology) must work in concert to deliver value to the enterprise by identifying “What” needs to change in order to drive the transformations of the company. The Architecture Practice is not a reaction to our projects. It is a planning function: it’s what defines the projects.”

In short, Enterprise Architecture at Cisco is used as a business transformation methodology based on the BOST framework. We start at the top with the Business (B) view which describes markets, suppliers, customers, delivery channels and regulatory environment. The Operations (O) view describes the operational capabilities and service functions performed by the business, the information flows between them, and the end-to-end scenarios that provide products and services to customers. The Systems (S) view describes the business and integration systems that support and automate the operations.  And finally the Technology (T) view describes the tools, infrastructure and technology platforms that the systems are based on. Requirements flow from the top down and capabilities are built from the bottom up.

A recent Forrester research report on EA Methodologies by Henry Peyret, May 21, 2013, provides an endorsement of the Proact BOST framework.  To quote:

Proact is a framework that provides business, operational, systems, and technology architectural views of the enterprise. 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.”

Interestingly, unlike most other EA frameworks, BOST does not have a data layer. That’s because data is an aspect of the business to be managed like other assets. Data management should be a business-led activity that exists at the Business and Operations level.  IT in turn enables and supports the business with data management activities at the Systems and Technology level.

So if you want to truly put data at the center of the architecture, you need to start with a business-centric architecture. If you build an architecture for IT, the business won’t care. If you want the business to care about data, you need to build an architecture of the business.