Uli Kalex from Alfabet, whom many of you know, has provided us with a guest post addressing one key fallacy which underlies much of IT’s work with their business. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment.
As a mathematician and product manager, I strongly prefer the reliability of analysis over the uncertainty of gambling. That is why I like to go to Las Vegas . . . at least for the annual Forrester CIO and EA Forums. Thought and industry leaders from around the world get together and discuss the driving forces and challenges in IT management. As such, I experienced this year’s event as a real catalyst for discussions around the increased requirements and frustrations in IT planning — and a call to arms for IT leaders everywhere.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once famously said: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” He was talking about armed conflicts, but the statement holds a lot of truth for today’s businesses as well. In the business world, an unforeseen change can make even the most sophisticated plan obsolete overnight — be it a change in regulation, a budget cut, or a company acquisition. To survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and dynamic environment, businesses need an IT organization that shows a path to meet business objectives while being flexible and responsive enough to adapt as needed. Ultimately, the best route is always changing.
Some enterprise architecture programs become a key capability for the success of their business: ensuring aligned plans, shaping business transformations, or boosting the business value of IT. But other EA programs struggle, with nebulous missions, immature practices, and limited impact.
This will be the third year of the awards program. Past winners have ranged from global banks to government ministries, from American Express to USAA, and from Singapore to Switzerland. These organizations have become a rich source of best practices and a demonstration of what a high-performance EA program is capable of.
We have a theme for the 2012 awards: EA programs that are business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic — and demonstrate this through their practices and the value they deliver. There are many ways in which EA can show this: partnering with business transformation efforts, developing business-relevant road maps, orchestrating their business’s information assets, increasing business agility — the list is long. As with past years, submissions will be judged by your peers — heads of successful EA programs, including previous winners.
I just recently had a conversation with Peter Hinssen, one of our keynote speakers at Forrester’s colocated CIO Forum and EA Forum in Las Vegas (May 3-4) and our EMEA CIO Forum and EA Forum in Paris (June 19-20).
Peter is both a dynamic speaker and a provocative thought-leader on the rapidly changing relationship of technology, business, and “the business function called IT.” Here’s a short summary of this conversation — and a preview of what he will be talking about at our forums.
On “The New Normal”:
Technology has stopped being “technology,” and digital has just become “normal”: We’ve entered the world of the “New Normal.” The rate of change of the technology world has become the beat to which markets transform. But the rate of change “outside” companies is now faster than the internal velocity of organizations. But how will companies evolve to cope with the changes as a result of the New Normal? How will organizations evolve to respond quickly enough when markets turn into networks of intelligence?
You already know it. Technology is completely pervasive in our lives, and in how businesses operate. It’s pervasive in how business execs think — they know that every change they make has a technology aspect to it. As my colleague Randy Heffner says, “It’s no longer enough to say that technology supports business. Today, your business is embodied in its technology.”
You already know it. The pace of change in our highly interconnected and interdependent world is increasing — and along with this are the opportunities and risks which change brings. From emerging markets to new social platforms such as Pinterest, business leaders are finding they can’t assume stable business models and environments anymore. Gone are the days of three-year strategic plans — the mantra now is: “How quickly can we sense and respond to new opportunities and threats? How quickly can we shift our business for these changes?”
Awkward title, I know. But this blog is about two related points.
Forrester has long believed that business and technology have become inseparable. The Business Technology organization that embraces this reality is replacing the Information Technology organization that thought of itself as separate from business.
Enterprise architecture is also shifting — from a technology and application-centered function (“IT architecture”) where the business was simply a source of requirements to a business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic discipline broader than the team called EA. We see signs of this shift everywhere — just look at the winners of the 2011 InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards.
As part of this shift, business architecture has become the foundation of enterprise architecture — making possible strategy, planning, and change management of the fused business+technology reality of today’s enterprises. Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture research focus is to help our clients make this shift, providing them with best and next practices ranging from removing barriers between business and architecture, to creating frameworks and models that provide insight and drive decisions, to measuring and communicating benefits.
Which is where the second part of this post – and potentially you who are reading this – come in. We are expanding our business architecture research team to deepen depth, utility, and value to our clients.
Are “business first and center” in how you think,
Have your own ideas and want to refine them as part of a team to create a body of research more impactful than any single analyst can create,
Want to engage with clients both to advise them and to learn from them,
To paraphrase a now-marginalized US political figure: “How you’all doing?”
Every year, Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture team looks at how enterprise architecture, as a practice and a function within business, is doing. We look at everything from how firms organize their EA programs, to where they are getting their support from, what roles exist within the EA team, completeness of architecture and the degree of standardization, expected technology change, and priorities and challenges. We ask the same questions year over year to discern any trends.
On December 9, we’ll be presenting the results of the 2011 State of Enterprise Architecture survey, compiling the inputs from 543 firms across North America, Europe, and Asia/PAC. (Note: this teleconference is for Forrester clients. A separate teleconference will be offered for non-client respondents to this survey.) A wide variety of industries are represented: financial services, manufacturing, retail, business services, and public sector. A few highlights:
The structure of firms’ EA functions continues to shift – with both centralized and completely decentralized increasing.
Architecture staffing continues its growth. The business architect role is one factor driving this growth.
Awareness and support by the broader business and IT organization continue to climb – both by the CIO, other IT functions, and by line of business management.
Drivers for EA show a significant shift – with “improving business agility” rising to the top.
Enterprise Architecture is a challenged role in IT. While more than 50% of all IT shops – and all large IT shops (greater than $100M budget) – have an EA practice in some form, most EA teams struggle with defining a mission that is relevant to their business and executing on this mission to produce the benefits their business needs. This struggle leads to frequent re-organizations, struggles for credibility and influence, and often an EA focus on the low-hanging fruit of technology standardization.
But this is changing.
Last year, Forrester teamed up with InfoWorld to select five EA programs that were having a measurable impact on their businesses. Our purpose for this awards program was to spotlight highly effective programs that embodied practices that we could all learn from. We found EA programs that were producing results ranging from saving millions of dollars per year in IT expenditures, to guiding IT transformation into business partners, to guiding business planning.
Several recent Forrester reports home in on what we call “The Age Of The Customer” in which firms must seek to become customer-obsessed to build differentiation and loyalty. Those firms that embrace this will ramp up investment in four priority areas: 1) real-time customer intelligence; 2) customer experience and customer service; 3) sales channels that deliver customer intelligence; and 4) useful content and interactive marketing. All these needs are technology-infused – wholly dependent on technology and in categories where technology is evolving rapidly. Underlying these investments is the need to master the flow of data about customers: capturing/collecting data about them, analyzing it, distributing to those points of engagement, and, finally, integrating the insights into the customer experience.
Companies can’t succeed at doing this without a close partnership between the business areas leading the charge and IT. The rate of change of your customers, markets, business opportunities, and technology is simply too fast. Forrester is exploring this theme in our first CIO/CMO joint forum.
The reality, though, is companies flounder at this marketing-IT partnership. They flounder because of:
More ideas than capacity. A plethora of desired initiatives are constantly being surfaced – beyond the limits of available budget and with no mechanism to sort them into an achievable plan that IT can deliver on.
Today we’re kicking off Forrester's IT Forum 2011 at The Palazzo in Las Vegas. Prepare for three exciting days of keynote presentations and track sessions focused on business and technology alignment. Use the Twitter widget below to follow the Forum conversation by tracking our event hashtag #ITF11 on Twitter. Attendees are encouraged to tweet throughout the Forum and to tweet any questions for our keynote presenters to #ITF11.
Several recent reports on Forrester.com start with the sentence: "EA organizations often toil out of the limelight . . . " There are fewer and fewer reasons why this should be the case.
We hear fewer stories of EA teams as purely "the standards police" or with "their heads in the clouds, not producing anything useful." We hear more and more stories of EA teams changing how business and IT plan, taking the lead in application simplification and rationalization, or being the broker for innovation. Infoworld and Forrester want to recognize these success stories with the 2011 Enterprise Architecture Award.
Discover Financial created an EA repository that aggregates information from its Service Catalog, Fixed Asset, PPM, and Business Goals to provide decision-making insights that saved more than $1M of avoided costs.
Aetna used its Business Capability Map to combine more than 30 business unit strategies and road maps, highlighting common opportunities and gaps that it then used for its annual planning.