Creating governance programs that separately address structured (data) or unstructured (content) can be a daunting task for any organization. Most organizations are just now addressing the governance issues that help ensure that their information, both data and content, is trustworthy and reliable. If creating separate governance programs is such a challenge, then why I am advocating the creation of a combined program for information governance? The challenges of governing structured data differ from the problems governing unstructured content, due to different goals, stakeholders, roles, and processes. The result is that governance of these areas involves completely separate endeavors.
But must they be wholly separate? Isn't there enough common ground? Creating an information governance framework that will address both their structured and unstructured information requires that the appropriate IT and business roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and that stakeholders from both IT and business are in agreement with the design and implementation efforts for an effective information governance strategy. Is this task too daunting for an organization to overcome? As more decisions are made using both data and content, it becomes increasingly important that all information used in the decision process is trustworthy and reliable. Agility in decision-making is dependent upon the right information at the right time. So my contention is that we should not wait for our data and content governance program to mature before implementing an overall information governance program. We should look at the similarities in the two governance programs to create a common framework that can be leveraged to create commonality and consistency in the information architecture.
If you’re trying to build an effective EA program, you’re in trouble from the get-go. I’d like to paint a rosier picture for anyone involved in this strategic, potentially very high-impact practice, but consider the fact that one of our more frequent client inquiries is about how to communicate EA’s value to non-EAers. How can I not say you’re in trouble if so many people doing EA look for outside help to explain to their own stakeholders that what they’re doing on a daily basis is worthwhile? There’s clearly something wrong with this picture.
So, OK, let’s say you want to build an EA practice anyway, despite the poorly understood value proposition — who should you staff it with? Misguided people with a desire to labor away in obscurity? Actually, no, you want your best and brightest. Those few very smart people who know your business very well, have both deep and broad knowledge and great analytical skills, and who display the potential for strategic-, system-, and design-thinking. That's a little challenging.
And then, when you find these people and attract them to your program, how best to organize them for effectiveness? Centralizing EA resources gives you the most control and makes it more likely that EA can deliver on its strategic value proposition. Decentralizing or federating EA resources puts the architects where the action is, making it more likely business and BT stakeholders will perceive value from the effort. But then those federated resources sometimes get so involved with their local — and usually tactical — issues that they go native and they’re not really working on the “E” in EA anymore.
Speed and agility are at the heart of business today — and, unfortunately, those are two areas in which IT is falling short. Two trends — neither of which is going away anytime soon — are impacting this increased need. Consumerization is rapidly changing the expectations of today’s information workers. In too many instances that we care to acknowledge, your employees are using faster, more agile solutions at home than they are at the office. On top of that, businesses are under an increased demand to change.
Enterprise architects are in a unique position to be change agents for their businesses — if they aggressively change the way they work with the business. Join us at our Enterprise Architecture forums — May 3 to 4 in Las Vegas and June 19 to 20 in Paris — for practical guidance on how to connect EA with your business’ bottom line.
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?”