Intro To A Research Series On Information Architecture

Gene Leganza

This is not really a new blog post. It's a relatively recent post that didn't manage to make it over from my independent blog. I wanted to be sure it made it to my Forrester blog because I will have lots of publications and posts on information architecture coming up and this was a post on my first piece in this series. So here's the original post:

In January, the lead-off piece that introduces my research thread on information architecture hit our web site. It’s called  Topic Overview: Information Architecture. Information architecture (IA) is a huge topic and a hugely important one, but IA is really the worst-performing domain of enterprise architecture. Sure, even fewer EA teams have a mature — or even active — business architecture practice, but somehow I’m inclined to give that domain a break. Many, if not most, organizations have just started with business architecture, and I have a feeling business architecture efforts will hit practical paydirt fairly quickly. I’m expecting to soon hear more and more stories of architects relating business strategy, goals, capabilities, and processes to application and technology strategies, tightly focusing their planning and implementation on areas of critical business value,  and ultimately finding their EA programs being recognized for having new relevance, all as a result of smart initial forays into business architecture in some form.

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Why is Forrester so jazzed up about Business Capability Maps?

Alex Cullen

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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Welcome to Forrester's new Blog Network for Enterprise Architects

Alex Cullen

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:

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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.

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Analytics For Content And Process: Cinderella With Slipper Confusion

Craig Le Clair

Analytics gets a lot of attention these days. And it should. Additional business insight is really important to improve the customer experience and more and more to understand the on-line experience. And predictive analytics is really cool. But these exciting areas tell only part of the story. Analytics can also help improve content management and transactional business processes. The infrastructure and plumbing that keeps most companies afloat. Analytics can help consolidate archives, improve capture, classify documents, improve business processes, and enhance the value of packaged apps. In short, there is a strong analytics play just for better content management and process improvement but poorly deeloped use cases and better buzz in other areas tamps down the potential. But we shall hear more about this soon.

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Has Case Management Arrived At Last?

Craig Le Clair

Interest in case management will climb higher and higher throughout 2010. The drivers are a mix of old and new an include.  The most important - there will be an increased need to manage the costs and risks of servicing customer requests — like loans, claims, and benefits. Customer experience has evolved to where fundamentals of the product are secondary. Its now about design and the personality of the experience. I tried to help my daughter buy a car the other day. The Ford Focus didn't make the cut.  Why? No lighted mirror.  I then knew I was in for a long process. 

There is also a greater emphasis on automating and tracking inconsistent "incidents" that do not follow a well-defined process.  Does homeland security come to mind? And lots of new pressure on government agencies to respond to a higher number of citizen requests.  But this next one is the killer.  We will see new demands from regulators, auditors, and litigants  on businesses to respond to external regulations.  After Bernie "made off" with 50B or so the SEC had an epiphany of sorts. Gee.Lets give the field agents more authority to investigate — and perhaps depoliticize the process. Brilliant. Lets let the folks that actually know the regulatory target actually make decisions. Well. Great. We think this will lead to a ramped up number of investigative inquires and guess what?  Each one is best handled as a case where consistent policies, audit trails, and analytics can apply.  Lastly, there is the increased use of collaboration and social media to support unstructured business processes.

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Who Owns Information Architecture? All Of Us.

Leslie Owens

Fellow analyst Gene Leganza wrote an excellent overview of Information Architecture, available for free via this link: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/topic_overview_information_architecture/q/id/55951/t/2

Gene briefly explores the misunderstanding between “Enterprise IA” and “User Experience IA.” This tension was well characterized by Peter Morville almost 10 years ago (See “Big Architect, Little Architect.” Personally I think it’s clear that content is always in motion, and unsupported efforts to dominate and control it are doomed.  People are a critical element of a successful IA project, since those who create and use information are in the best position to judge and improve its quality. Many hands make light work, as the saying goes.

For example, if you want a rich interactive search results page, you need to add some structure to your content. This can happen anytime from before the content is created (using pre-defined templates) to when it is presented to a user on the search results page. Content is different than data, a theme Rob Karel and I explored in our research on Data and Content Classification. For this reason, IA is both a “Back end” and a “Front end” initiative.

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Leveraging Architecture For Business Impact

Alex Cullen

The Forrester Enterprise Architecture Forum 2010 North America (San Diego) is about two weeks away, and the EAF 2010 EMEA (London) is about five weeks away.

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Where architects are spending their time

Alex Cullen

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.

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What Does $100 Million Buy You? A Semantic Search Engine That Works.

Leslie Owens

The technical folks behind Monster.com invited me to visit last week. I somehow couldn’t convince them to show me any Superbowl ads but they did demo their cool new search engine. It’s based on technology they acquired when they bought Trovix in 2008. What can it do?

  • Understand the meaning of words: The search engine knows the difference between “development” in the fundraising context and “development” in the software context.
  • Appreciate the relationships between words: A custom ontology fortifies the search engine. The ontology rolls up skills like auditing into the larger category of finance. It differentiates between a top ranked school and a lower ranked school. It understands that years spent working as a prosecutor should count towards a candidate’s overall legal experience.
  • Cut text-heavy resumes into nimble content components: Recruiters can use the power resume search to compare candidates side-by-side, because the search mixes and normalizes the information into simple, clean categories like “Experience,” “Education,” and “Skills”.
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Crafting your technology strategy for business impact

Alex Cullen

That your technology strategy should be driven by business is a truism. We all know this -  architecture, strategy and IT overall should be driven by business needs, strategies and outcomes.

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