Interest In Business Architecture Heats Up

When I was searching for input to my first business architecture research report titled “Business Architecture’s Time Has Come” in October of 2008, I had a hard time finding true business architecture practitioners to participate in the study. To be sure, there were lots of EAs thinking about business architecture, but very few really doing business architecture.

Earlier that year I had facilitated a group discussion about the current state of business architecture at an EA conference. There were more than 30 people in the room, and the discussion was lively. Much of the first half hour focused on what business architecture really meant and how it should be applied. There were a wide array of positions and some very impassioned exchanges. To shift the discussion to more practical areas, I asked “Who has an active business architecture practice?” To my surprise not one person in the room raised their hand.

What a difference a year makes. Our 2010 research shows that 40% of organizations now have an established business architecture program. And most of the rest are working toward creating one. For a large majority of EA teams the question has shifted from “When should I start my business architecture effort?” to “How do I get business architecture moving?” Forrester’s 2010 EA Forum had a track dedicated to enterprise business architecture. I presented or facilitated three business architecture sessions that were all heavily attended with lots of active participation. Some of the interesting ideas that surfaced during forum discussions were:

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Why is Forrester so jazzed up about Business Capability Maps?

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.

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