Business-IT alignment is one of those persistent "Top 3" CIO issues. It has been this way just about as long as I’ve been in IT. You would think this would have been solved by now. After all, you put in business-driven IT governance, relationship managers, and some really nice dashboard, and you’ve covered about 90% of the advice out there. I’m going to suggest that business-IT alignment is being held hostage by complexity. Not technology complexity, since business leaders seem to be coming to terms with that. And not the mind-numbing spaghetti charts that show how complex our application and infrastructure landscapes are. They don’t understand these charts, but since we don’t understand them either, we can hardly expect business execs to. The complexity I’m referring to lies between their goals and the "stuff" IT delivers. They don’t see the connection. And since we see business execs having lots of goals, which shift over time, and strategies that also shift, we can’t show the connection. Instead, we say, "This is what you asked for, and this is what we delivered."
I recently published a sample business capability map for insurance firms as a way to illustrate many aspects about the description and use of this business architecture methodology. One of the readers of this report commented “It seems the business capability maps provide value as a complement to existing methodologies” and referenced Strategy Maps and Business Process Modeling. This made me realize that I should explain more how Forrester sees capability maps as more than a complement – and why we, along with many of our clients are so ‘jazzed up’ about this methodology.
A bit of background: Forrester views capabilities as stable elements of a business model, where the dynamics of a firm are reflected in the business goals for the capability, and the processes, functions, information and other assets which are how a capability is delivered. A capability map describes all the capabilities, and the relationships between them, which an organization needs to have as part of their business model to achieve outcomes. Think of Sales as a simple example, where there are business goals and associated metrics for Sales, and processes, functions, information and people assets necessary for this capability to be delivered. And Sales has a relationship to Fulfillment, to Customer Service and to Marketing.
Forrester analysts have long been active bloggers about the roles and subject areas they cover. If you've been a prior visitor to the Forrester Blog For Enterprise Architecture, you've seen posts from Randy Heffner, Gene Leganza, Jeff Scott and myself. From these beginnings, we've learned a lot - and we've put these learnings into our new blog platform and network.
Here's an overview from Cliff Condon, the champion and project manager for this new platform:
Hey everyone. Here it is – Forrester’s new blog network. We made some change to improve the experience for readers and to encourage more analysts to blog. Feel free to poke around and let me know what you think.
There are a few things I’d like to point out to you:
* Everyone’s welcome here. Forrester analysts use blogs as an input into the research they produce, so having an open, ongoing dialogue with the marketplace is critical. Clients and non-clients can participate – so I encourage you to be part of the conversations on Forrester blogs.
* We still have team blogs focused on role professionals. Our role blogs, such as the CIO blog and the Interactive Marketing blog, are a rollup of all the posts from the analysts serving that specific role professional. By following a role team blog, you can participate in all the conversational threads affecting a role.
* And now we’ve added analyst blogs as well. If you prefer to engage directly with your favorite analyst, you can. Look on the right-hand rail of the team blog and you’ll see a list of the analyst blogs. Just click on their name to go to their blog. Or type their name into “Search”. An analyst blog is a place for the analyst to get reaction to their ideas and connect with others shaping the marketplace. You’ll find the blogs to be personal in tone and approach.
Where do architects spend their time, and is this where they should be spending it? I participated in a webinar this week hosted by Architecture & Governance magazine, along with George Paras. We discussed ‘the state of EA in 2010’ and the transformation of EA from a technology focus to a business focus. During this webinar, I showed this data from Forrester’s annual State of EA survey.
This past summer, Forrester conducted a series of in-depth interviews of architects to further our understanding of their roles: how they saw the role in the context of their organizations, how they are evaluated by senior management, their key success imperatives and their information needs. We undertook this not just as research to publish, but also to inform how we support individuals in the EA role.
In September-October Forrester conducted its State of Enterprise Architecture survey – a broad look at EA in the context of the IT & business organization. We asked respondents questions ranging from where does the architecture function report, to the state of completeness of various architecture domains, the key technologies firms will be making significant architecture decisions about, and the degree of support for EA by various constituencies ranging from application developers to corporate business management. An upcoming series of reports from Forrester will discuss the survey results.
Last week, I conducted a webinar for the survey respondents – highlighting the results and discussing ‘what it means’. Webinar participants were very engaged in the discussion of the results – and with the broader question of the relationship and impact of EA to the larger business organization it is part of.
Two figures that really stood out and generated discussion:
We asked survey respondents – who were primarily architects in large enterprises – to identify the drivers for the EA program – essentially the mission and charter for the architecture organization.
Architecture teams often spend a significant amount of their time working with or consulting for IT project teams. This is a recognized best practice for ensuring that project teams execute in line with the architecture and for demonstrating that the architecture team provides tangible value, but it is also a double-edged sword. The downside is when IT management perceives that the EA team's primary value is in tactical problem solving.
CIOs want to know what new technologies they should watch
for their firm’s possible use.They need
to know when they should make an investment of time to learn a technology, and educate
their business on its potential – or be prepared to answer their questions.They want to time their own adoption - for
example, with cloud-based
services, they want to maximize benefits, avoid the bleeding edge, and smoothly
fold it in with their plans.CIOs need a
‘technology watch list' when they have a central architecture teams, they delegate
creating this list to that team.These
teams tap their sources - and one source the architecture teams tap to scan the
long list of technologies is Forrester.
At Forrester, we are challenged to identify the top
technologies, too.Our problem is a bit
different from our clients – we follow so many technologies, hear from so vendors
and thought leaders, and of course every analyst will have their own network
and assessment.To sort through
everything that could be on a watch list and pick the ones which CIOs should
watch, we involve many analysts and use a simple set of criteria: