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.
We at Forrester have written a lot about the “empowered era” in the past year. We’re talking about the empowerment of customers and employees, the consumerization of technology, and grass-roots-based, tech-enabled innovation. There are lots of great case studies around illustrating these forces and how they can benefit the enterprise, but those success stories are only part of the picture. Behind the scenes, there is disruption and confusion about who’s planning the road ahead regarding the technology in our organizations’ future. It used to be that the CIO made sure that happened by making it the exclusive domain of strategic planners and enterprise architects. But isn’t centralized — and IT-based — tech planning the opposite of empowerment? Wouldn’t sticking with the old approach result in missing out on all this employee innovation that’s supposed to be so powerful? Should the CIO no longer establish the technology the enterprise will use? Does the empowerment era mean the end of tech planning as we know it?
Only a few weeks to go before Forrester’s US EA Forum 2011 in San Francisco in February! I’ll be presenting a number of sessions, including the opening kickoff, where I’ll paint a picture of where I see EA going in the next decade. As Alex Cullen mentioned, I’ll examine three distinct scenarios where EA rises in importance, EA crashes and burns, or EA becomes marginalized.
But the most fun I’ve had preparing for this year’s event is putting together a new track: “Key Technology Trends That Will Change Your Business.” In the past, we’ve focused this conference on the practice of EA and used our big IT Forum conference in the spring to talk about technology strategies, but this year I’ve had the opportunity to put together five sessions that drill down into the technology trends that we think will have significant impact in your environment, with a particular focus on impacting business outcomes. Herewith is a quick summary of the sessions in this track:
I've taken some heat in comments at the ZDNET version of my post about the top 15 tech trends research piece. Apparently, to non-Forrester clients who don't have access to the research on the website (except for a rather steep by-the-drink price), the blog post comes off as a teaser with no payoff. Mea culpa. Here's the deal: My process, like that of many analysts these days, is to do research, publish it on our website, and then yak about it via social media. While I'm very careful in Twitter to point out when links will take you to something that's free versus something that's for Forrester clients, I wrote the blog post that found its way to ZDNET's site mostly with Forrester clients in mind. It mostly says "Hey, check out this research doc. Here's what I was thinking when I set out to publish it."
What happens next is that the various analysts who contributed to the trends doc will post blog entries about their areas of expertise, specifically about the topics we talked about in the trends doc. So, in a few weeks, there will be lots of info for non-Forrester clients to read to dig into what we're talking about in this trends piece.
But for now, the social media campaign is looking too much like we're withholding the bottom line just to squeeze some bucks out of the public. Not so. In the interest of addressing that issue, here is a table of the tech trends in that piece, sorted by highest impact (over the next 3 years).
Readers of this blog are all likely to agree that EA is important, but it's also true that EA teams struggle for influence, laboring mightily in the shadows, out of the limelight. Forrester and InfoWorld have teamed up to end all that. Well, OK, we may not be able to do a lot about the struggling and laboring mightily, but we can certainly do something about the limelight thing.
InfoWorld and Forrester are working together to publicize EA programs that are making a difference to their businesses. A distinguished panel of judges, including Forrester analysts and real-world EA leaders from our EA Council, vetted detailed entries to the InfoWorld/Forrester EA awards contest, and we have picked five winners. These winners show different aspects of high-impact EA programs – but a review of their stories shows some things they have in common as well, including the insight to prioritize the right direction for EA at the right time.
The winners are, in alphabetical order:
Aetna: Capability maps
Barclays Bank: Road maps and strategic architectural alignment
Discover Financial Services: Driving value with EA
Skandia UK & International: Transformation delivered through EA
Wells Fargo: Living target architecture
We can all learn about the application of EA best practices from these companies’ stories. I strongly encourage you to read the write-ups here. As always, we’re very interested in your comments and ideas!
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 yourexpansion 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.
A number of Forrester analysts have been collaborating on a series of Tweet Jams on topics related to data management. The last session was on BI, and the next one up is on MDM. These are very lively sessions involving many points of view on some quite provocative topics. I'm pasting in text from analyst Rob Karel's blog post on the upcoming MDM session on July 20 in case architects who read our EA blog don't read the business process blog where Rob posts. For most of the EA folks I have spoken with lately, information architecture and MDM are very relevant -- not to mention thorny -- topics. I hope you join us for a great discussion!
Rob's description of the session:
Many large organizations have finally “seen the light” and are trying to figure out the best way to treat their critical data as the trusted asset it should be. As a result, master data management (MDM) strategies, and the enabling architectures, organizational and governance models, methodologies and technologies that support the delivery of MDM capabilities are…in a word…HOT! But the concept of MDM - and the homegrown or vendor-enabled technologies that attempt to deliver that elusive “single version of truth”, “golden record”, or “360-degree view” - has been around for decades in one form or another (e.g., data warehousing, BI, data quality, EII, CRM, ERP, etc. have all at one time or another promised to deliver that single version of truth in one form or another).
Social media will spur dramatic evolutionary shifts in traditional BI architectures in several ways. For starters, vendors will bring the Wikipedia and Facebook models into the heart of their user experience, converging traditional BI with social networking, knowledge management, and collaboration architectures. Under this new “social BI” paradigm, vendors will provide information workers with tools for collecting vast pools of user-generated, subject-oriented, multimedia content, thereby supplementing and extending traditional data marts. By encouraging user-centric development of multimedia content stores, social media will accelerate the evolution of enterprise data warehouses into comprehensive “content warehouses.” By enabling applications to monitor and mine growing streams of social media content, the new generation of social BI platforms will accelerate the convergence of data mining, content analytics, and complex event processing. And this new BI platform paradigm will enable powerful social network analysis, sifting through continuing streams of transaction, behavioral, and sentiment data to identify influencers, net promoters, brand ambassadors, and other key relationships in online communities of all shapes and sizes.
Ask people what makes May a noteworthy month, and many folks in the northern hemisphere will wax rhapsodic about its being the peak of springtime. Others might mention Mothers' day. Ask Forrester's IT analysts and they're pretty sure to immediately blurt out "IT Forum!" IT Forum -- the conference formerly known as GigaWorld -- is our biggest IT conference as it brings together all our IT analysts and about a zillion of our customers in all the IT-based roles for whom we do research. Each major IT role gets a separate track of research -- that's 10 tracks this year. It's essentially a week of non-stop analyst-attendee interaction in various forms. It's intense for both analysts and attendees and easily the most stimulating week on my calendar. At least, on my business calendar (wouldn't want you to think I don't have a life!).
A basic question we're frequently asked is: What is the difference between architecting and designing or, alternately, between architecture and engineering? Most people who ask this question have conflict in their organizations regarding which IT role does what, and it often comes down to which project artifact is whose responsibility.
For most organizations, the ambiguity between the responsibilities of the project-related architect (which Forrester refers to as a “solution architect” -- see Leverage Solution Architects To Drive EA Results) and a senior engineer is largely an academic issue. For most organizations what matters most is identifying and sourcing the individuals with the appropriate knowledge and skills and making them available to mission-critical projects. The availability of senior technicians on the projects is what often determines the level of detail in the design supplied by the solution architect.
The exceptions to the “most organizations” mentioned in above are the large-to-very-large engineering shops, such as the largestUS federal government civilian and DoD agencies, and large private sector organizations that do major engineering projects such as Boeing. Organizations that have over 1000 individuals in the development environment and launch multi-year $100M+ IT projects have closely defined project roles and do what is necessary -- including extensive external contracting -- to source the appropriately skilled individuals. In these environments the “it depends” argument is not sufficient and a clean delineation of role tasks and deliverables becomes necessary.