What’s In A Name?

One of our client consultancies recently raised an issue about using the name “Enterprise Architect.” Many of their clients, particularly on the business side, didn’t understand the title unless a lot of context was included to help explain it. While I think most IT types have had enough exposure to EA to understand what it is all about, this isn’t true on the business side. Even though the name might be the industry standard and reflect (to some extent) what we do, if it takes explaining then maybe it isn’t the best name.

I do think it is the “architect” term that is the main problem, but “enterprise” anything has also left a bad impression with some companies – and really, what does “enterprise” mean anyway? Who else uses that term in their title? Finance and HR operate exactly the same way as EA – they have enterprise accountabilities – but don’t have enterprise in their titles – or at least I haven’t seen it yet.   

Additionally, when I work with new EA programs, I frequently find that they are in their third, fourth, and sometimes fifth iteration of building an EA practice. Often there is a negative connotation around the EA term built up from past failures. These clients also would like to use a different label for enterprise architects.

Forrester sees EA as primarily a strategy function. It can be focused on business strategy, technology strategy, or both depending on the organizational approach. In a recent client session we brainstormed a number of different names for the enterprise architect including: IT Strategist, Business Technology Strategist, Enterprise Strategist, Corporate IT Strategist, Corporate Business Technology Strategist, Enterprise Alignment Consultants, and Enterprise Strategy Consultants. We also came up with a similar series of names replacing strategist with advisor.

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What Technology Trends Will Impact Your Organization In The Next 3 Years?

Despite the lack of a sustained full-on recovery in the global economy, one gets the feeling that we're at the beginning of a period of tech expansion and growth, doesn't one? For many, 2011 budgeting planning is happening now, so it remains to be seen what your expansion and growth will be in the near term, but there's certainly no shortage of interesting new developments from technology vendors to whet your appetite.

While it's fun to look at emerging tech and imagine what impact it might have several years from now, it's a bit more pragmatic to focus on the technology trends that will be hitting the mainstream and making significant waves in the corporate world and in the public sector in the next few years. 

In Q4 of last year Forrester published The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch. The author, analyst Alex Cullen, spoke with a few dozen analysts for input and then applied strict criteria for inclusion of a particular tech trend in the doc: 1) significant business or IT impact in the next 3 years; 2) newness, with implications not only for new business capabilities but also for the organization's understanding of the technology and how to manage it; and 3) complexity, especially regarding cross-functional impact to the organization.

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The Forrester Wave™: BPM Suites, Q3 2010 — BPM Suites Deliver Broad Support For Business-Led Process Transformation

Over the past decade, BPM suites promised to put the business in the driver’s seat for delivering process improvement to the enterprise. However, most of these promises fell flat, relegating the business to participate as backseat drivers directing IT on how best to steer process improvement. 

In the latest update to our BPM suites Forrester Wave report, Forrester evaluated 11 leading vendors against 148 product feature, platform, and market presence criteria. The Forrester Wave provided a head-to-head comparison of which BPM suites best support the needs of comprehensive process improvement programs that demand tight collaboration and coordination across business and IT stakeholders. Here's a sneak peek at the findings from our new report, "The Forrester Wave: Business Process Management Suites, Q3 2010".

  • Time-to-value and fit-to-purpose are top priorities. Process professionals are searching for ways to trim the fat from bloated BPM initiatives and constantly ask about tools and best practices for making BPM leaner and meaner. Leading vendors — like Pega and Appian — are responding to the need for leaner and more fit-to-purpose BPM suites by providing targeted solution frameworks, embedding agile project management features, and delivering highly customizable end user work environments. 
     
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EAs: Eat Your Own Dog Food

I was introduced to the term “eat your own dog food” many years ago by a Microsoft project manager who pointed out that if you don't use your own products, maybe you should think about working for someone else (some of the best advice I ever got from Microsoft). Some years later I was teaching an EA leadership class in Sydney and used the “eat your own dog food” metaphor. A very indignant architect stood up and with great flair said: “Man, we are enterprise architects! We slurp our own caviar.” Well, whether it’s dog food or caviar, if you build it you should use it. The problem often isn’t that we don’t want to use our own products; it is that we are so busy trying to get everybody else to use them that we just don’t think about it.

I just published a report titled “Use Business Architecture Tools To Align EA With The CIO’s Agenda.” The genesis for this research was the realization that EA teams, along with many other organizations, don’t do a very good job figuring out what their bosses really need from them. And architects, unlike other organizations, have all the tools and skills they need at their disposal. So here are my four simple steps to better alignment with your CIO:

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IBM Acquires Datacap: Rabbit Punch To Kofax And EMC

You might think summer would be a good time to give acquisitions a break - to let things settle a bit. But the pace of key acquisitions continues and many deserve comment. Datacap, as we all know, is not new to IBM having many - probably 20 - joint customers. This helps shore up IBM's already packed ECM portfolio - which depended for capture on Kofax - and other partners like Datacap. The original capture assets, acquired with FileNet, were adequate but lacked forms processing and a distributed capture strategy. This acquisition plugs those gaps but more importantly provides a needed platform to overlay IBM's suite of analytics products to improve business processes with metadata extraction, document classification, and ultimately to bring text analytics to transactional business processes. Advanced capture will also help IBM in advancing areas of dynamic case management and medical records.    

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A Multitude Of Challenges For Business Architects

I recently led a workshop with 35 clients from a variety of industries to uncover the challenges they face in their business architecture efforts. Through brainstorming and breakout discussions, the group created more than 160 individual challenge statements. In subsequent analysis I was able to identify 14 unique challenges in three major categories: EA skill/capability, organization/culture, and support/resources.

Here are the challenges I identified:

  1. Lack of business skills in the EA team
  2. No proven BA methodology to follow
  3. Low EA visibility/credibility in the business community
  4. Poor business-IT goal alignment
  5. Gatekeepers protect their business relationships
  6. Business units plan and work in silos
  7. A culture of change resistance
  8. Tactical business focus
  9. Lack of clearly articulated business strategy
  10. Lack of executive sponsorship
  11. BA’s value proposition hasn’t been established
  12. Lack of funding for BA initiatives
  13. Concern over impact to other initiatives
  14. Management puts a low priority on BA

Fourteen challenges seem like a lot to deal with (and I am sure there are more). But as I looked at the list I realized that these are not unrelated issues that can be solved independently but in fact are clearly structurally related. For example: A lack of funding can only be solved when you have a compelling value proposition, which can only be created when you have demonstrated value in some way, which can only be done when you have the right skills and capabilities. A general model of the relationship is below. I know most of us would like to start with funding and executive sponsorship, but it just doesn’t work that way.  

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