Forrester sees business empowerment — where business areas seek greater autonomy to address their own technology needs — as an inevitable trend. We’ve seen this before: New technology brings business areas new opportunities to improve their performance — from finance (PCs and spreadsheets) to marketing (web and eCommerce) to sales (PDAs). When this occurred, IT was unconnected to the frontlines of the business; IT’s technology was viewed as hard to use, and the result was business-initiated “shadow IT.”
At the recent Forrester Enterprise Architecture Forum in San Francisco, we offered attendees a copy of the new book Empowered, by Forrester analysts Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. To get a copy, attendees had to complete a two-question survey. The questions directly related to their readiness to support this round of business empowerment:
“On a scale of 1-5, where 1 = ‘This doesn’t sound like my company at all’ and 5 = ‘This sounds exactly like my company,’ please rate the following questions about your organization:
The EA function has close ties with business management.
Our technology strategy and standards allow for rapidly changing technologies.”
You can use these discussions to get better at your role – plus you'll be able to shape our research agenda by posting your questions or highlighting a topic you think demands further investigation. Our leading analysts – like Jeff Scott, Randy Heffner, Henry Peyret, Galen Schreck, and Gene Leganza – will also post the topics they are working on to get your input on them.
Here's what you’ll find in The Forrester Community For Enterprise Architecture Professionals:
A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
When I started as an architect, I was part of the team called “IT Architecture.” It was clear what we did and who we did it for – we standardized technology and designs so that IT would be more reliable, deliver business solutions more quickly, and cost less. We were an IT-centric function. Then the term “Enterprise Architecture” came in – and spurred debates as to “isn’t EA about the business?,” “what’s the right scope for EA?,” and “should EA report to the CEO?” We debated it, published books and blogs about it – but it didn’t change what most architects did; they did some flavor of IT Architecture.
Meanwhile, the interplay of business and technology changed . . . Technology became embedded and central to business results, and business leaders became technology advocates. The locus of technology innovation moved from the “heavy lifting” of core system implementations to the edges of the business, where business staff see opportunities and demand more autonomy to seize them. For enterprise architects, this means that regardless of what EA has been, in the future it must become a business-focused and embedded discipline. Mapping this shift is a key theme of Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture Forum 2011.
Gene Leganza, who will be presenting the opening keynote “EA In The Year 2020: Strategic Nexus Or Oblivion?,” states it this way:
What will business and technology be like in 2020 – and what’s IT’s place in this new world? This is the subject of a teleconference that James Staten and I held for our clients yesterday and also the subject of an upcoming Forrester report.
In this teleconference, we painted a picture of the impact of business-ready, self-service technology, a tech-savvy and self-sufficient workforce, and a business world in which today’s emerging economies dwarf the established ones, bringing a billion new consumers with a radically different view of products and services, as well as in which surging resource costs – especially energy costs – crush today’s global business models.
In the past, when new waves of technology swept into our businesses – everything from the 1980s’ PCs to today’s empowered technologies – the reaction was the swinging pendulum of “decentralized/embedded IT” followed by “centralized/industrialized IT.” These tired old reactions won’t work in the world 2020. Instead, businesses must move to a model we call Empowered BT.
Empowered BT empowers business to pursue opportunities at the edge and the grassroots – but to balance this empowerment with enterprise concerns. Key to this balance is the interplay between four new “meta roles” – visionaries, consultants, integrators, and sustainability experts – combined with a new operating model based on guidelines, mentoring, and inspection. Also key is IT changing from a mindset in which it needs to control technology to one in which it embraces business ownership of technology decisions.
The teleconference chat window was busy as James and I presented our research. Here are the questions we weren’t able to answer due to time.
Recently I participated in a roundtable discussion by members of Forrester’s EA Council on “Getting Strategic In A Tactical World.” Members talked through the challenge of maintaining a strategic focus when the IT (or business) organization was very tactical and of getting the enterprise architecture function to have the right balance of tactical and strategic activities. “Strategic/Tactical Focus” is one of the dimensions of the Archetypes of EA that Forrester has written about, including in this blog, and the balance between tactical and strategic is a key factor in how the larger organization views EA’s relevance as well as the support it provides to EA.
One of the participants, who headed a team of more than 50 architects, asked the others, “How is your department funded – as overhead operations or as part of the project investment budget?” The person who asked this question said that his organization is more than 70% funded out of the project budget. Others responded with a range of 100% operations to 100% project-based. The comments around these different funding mixes were very interesting (all comments paraphrased):
“It’s easier to justify the size of my team if the funding is tied to the amount of project investments we are making.”
“Investment funding levels are too variable – two years ago we cut way back, now we’ve ramped way up. If my team size was a factor of investment funding, we wouldn’t be prepared for the amount of investment we are making now.”
“EA funding as part of ongoing operations budget makes us look like overhead. I don’t want architecture to look like some sort of overhead.”
Mike Gilpin poses this question in the most recent post to his blog. This question was sparked at Forrester’s Business Process & Application Delivery Forum during a conversation during the session “Using The Next Generation PMO To Promote Innovation.” What’s interesting is that the question came from an attendee -- presumably aligned with their firm’s PMO -- who said that in their firm, strategic investment planning is led by their enterprise architecture team, which is responsible for the strategic planning and business architecture processes.
There are multiple ways to come up with the “best answer” to this question. Nigel Fenwick discusses the answer in terms of the CIO’s responsibility to own strategy development -- and the coordination of functions necessary to carry out strategy. I’d like to answer this from the perspective of “what does it take to have an effective strategic investment planning process?”, examining the value the EA function and the PMO can provide.
My colleague Craig Symons, who is Forrester’s expert on IT governance, defines effective governance as ensuring the best answers to these questions:
Are you ready for Forrester's IT Forum 2011? Mark your calendars for May 25-27 in Las Vegas and June 8-10 in Barcelona — and help us design an event that is as relevant and productive for you as possible. We've come up with three potential draft themes and need your vote for the best IT Forum 2011 theme:
1. Unleash your empowered enterprise.
As technology becomes more accessible through mediums beyond IT's control, you have but one choice: Get proactive by empowering employees, or swim against the current. Successful BT leaders will react not by blocking access but by lending their expertise to increase the chances of technology success and empowering the users to solve customer and business problems. This year's IT Forum will provide a blueprint for reaping the benefits of your empowered organization — complete with case studies, methodologies, and step-by-step advice tailored to each IT role.
2. Capitalize on the intersection of business and technology.
IT leaders have long struggled to deliver business and technology alignment. But alignment implies a waterfall process: decide on a business strategy, and then build your technology on that foundation. Today, our businesses move too fast for the traditional IT model. Instead, Business Technology leaders must join the leaders of their lines of business to create business and technology strategy simultaneously. That means working with new business partners inside and outside your organization, operationalizing innovation through standards, and above all, saying, "yes, and..." instead of "yes, but..." This year, we'll dedicate IT Forum to building bridges to new business partners, scaling innovative solutions, and co-creating business and technology strategy.
You know how technology is changing how businesses operate — how they engage with their customers, deliver products and services, and understand their markets. The burgeoning importance of technology is changing how IT operates in these businesses. Forrester has termed this transformation "BT" for business technology. And in our recent book, Empowered, Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler describe how IT must support empowered businesspeople who are using emerging technology to solve their business problems.
Enterprise architecture is a critical discipline for IT as its business relationship changes. Our clients have asked us to help them better understand emerging technology in a business and architecture context — and so we’re looking for a senior analyst to address these questions. This is a plum job, because it will put you right in the center of transformation that's happening with business technology.
You'll spend your time speaking with people in companies that are actually implementing emerging technologies like mobile solutions, social networks, and even telematics and remote sensor technologies — gathering information about what works, what doesn't, and where the industry is going. You’ll write reports on these topics and work with clients on their technology strategies.
Our current analysts on this team are working in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Foster City, California; New York; London; Paris; and Amsterdam — or from their homes. For this position, we're inclined to hire an analyst who can work in one of our research locations.
Social technology, which includes blogs, microblogging (Twitter), social networking tools, and next-generation collaboration platforms, is a fundamental shift in how businesses use technology. As Forrester describes in Groundswell, your customers are becoming empowered through their use of these technologies, and your business must adapt to this changing relationship. And in our forthcoming book, Empowered, we examine how the people within your business are driving business impact through their use of these same technologies.
Grass-roots experimentation and use by your business’s staff is good – but real business impact is when your business adopts and uses these technologies. This requires your business execs to put in the frameworks, guidelines, coordination, and governance to maximize benefit while prudently managing risk.
Forrester is embarking on research to develop a Social Technology Maturity Benchmark that incorporates these steps. Because maturity will be an important issue for you in your role of charting your firm’s business technology strategy, we’d like your input on this. Colleagues in Forrester’s team serving Interactive Marketing professionals are conducting a survey of both business and IT leaders, including CIOs, Infrastructure and Operations professionals, Sourcing & Vendor Management professionals, and Enterprise Architecture professionals. Here is their introduction to this survey:
Consider the following scenario. You have realized that your firm can benefit from having a documented business architecture – perhaps based on business capabilities – not for any one issue or need but rather as a general framework for planning, strategic execution and coordination by different parts of business and IT. You are in a meeting with your CIO, making the case, when the CIO says, “In a couple of minutes our CEO is dropping by. You can make your case to him. If he’s interested, we’ll go ahead.”
OK – that scenario may seem like kind of a stretch – after all, how often does the CEO drop in on the CIO and want to listen to a pitch on business architecture? Well, something like this happened to me recently, and I’d like your thoughts on how to make the case. I was visiting a client – the head of EA at this client (a medium-size financial services firm) – when he said, “I’ve started to lobby with our business management that we need a business capability map. The CEO is dropping by and would like to hear the reasons from you. I think you’ll have about 15 minutes.”
Talk about a challenge! When CEO arrived, after initial introductions, this is the case I made: