Your Future Needs A Type 4 Technology Strategy

As I discuss with clients the developing notions of Forrester's Business Capability Architecture (see blog post #1 and blog post #2), I have found it important to distinguish between different levels of scope for technology strategy. The primary distinctions have to do with (a) the degree to which a strategy (and the architecture it promulgates) aims to account for future change and (b) the breadth of business and technology scenarios addressed by the strategy.

Thus, I define a four-part technology strategy taxonomy along a two-dimensional continuum with (a) and (b) as axes (IOW, the four parts are archetypes that will occur in varying degrees of purity), to wit:

  • Type 1: project strategy for successful solution delivery. With Type 1 strategy, the goal is simply to achieve successful project delivery. It is beyond the strategy’s scope to consider anything not necessary to deliver a solution that operates according to immediate business requirements. Future changes to the business and future changes in technology are not considered by the strategy (unless explicitly documented in the requirements). The classic case for a Type 1 strategy is when an organization definitively knows that the business scenario addressed by the solution is short-lived and will not encounter significant business or technology change during the solution’s lifetime (history argues that this is a risky assumption, yet sometimes it is valid).
Read more

The Biggest Problem With SOA Isn't Really About SOA

I'll soon have a client report out with interesting Forrester data about how SOA adoption continued apace during the Great Recession. In the meantime, Forrester partnered with TechTarget on a different SOA survey, primarily to TechTarget's readers, wherein we asked a wider range of SOA questions. The bottom line of all this data is that SOA is alive and well.

SOA's strong health is not a surprise (at least not to Forrester), but something else very interesting came out of the survey. To the question, "What is the most significant challenge you are facing with your SOA project/initiative?" the top response was not really about SOA. Instead, by a 2:1 margin over the next response, the biggest challenge was, "Designing how to do SOA in an integrated way with other initiatives (e.g., BPM, events, BI, rules, etc.)." (I describe this in more detail in a write-up over at SearchSOA.com -- you have to register to read the full article.) 

In other words, people are realizing that, in a multi-technology world, siloed approaches to individual technology areas won't cut it. This is the fundamental insight driving Forrester's development of Digital Business Architecture (see Forrester report) and Business Capability Architecture (go to blog post or to another blog post).

Oh and to see more of the data from the TechTarget/Forrester Research State of SOA Survey for 2010, see this write-up by SearchSOA's Matt DeBarros.

Get A Strong Focus For Your Approach To Cloud

In discussions on cloud computing, I often talk to architects who have been told to create a "cloud strategy." This sounds appropriate enough, but there’s a devil in the details: When the task is "create a Technology X strategy," people often center strategy on the technology. With cloud, they aim to get a good definition of pure cloud and then find places where it makes sense to use it. The result is a technology strategy silo where cloud is placed at the center and usage scenarios are arranged around it. The problem with this is three-fold:

  1. Considering the full business dynamics of any given usage scenario, there is a wide continuum of often strongly competing alternatives to pure cloud (including cloud-like and traditional options).
  2. The rapid pace of market development means that business value equations along this continuum of options will keep changing.
  3. Your business needs integrated strategy for many technologies, not simply a siloed cloud strategy.
Read more

Business Capabilities Are The Strongest Foundation For Tech Strategy

In developing a technology strategy for your organization, what will be your basis for deciding which technologies to pursue, when to pursue them, and how to implement them? In other words, what will be the foundation for your technology architecture and strategy? In considering this question, I assume we agree that technology strategy should directly support improvement of business outcomes, both now and over the long haul. To provide for the long haul, your technology architecture and strategy must be crafted to support a continuous stream of business change, both small incremental steps and large radical shifts.

Your strategy could begin with a list of hot technologies — perhaps even ones that business colleagues are clamoring for — but how would you know which of them would lead to the most important improvements in business outcomes? You could begin with your top executives’ current business plans and strategies — which would clearly address today’s priorities for improving outcomes — but over the long haul, business plans change, sometimes dramatically, making them an unstable foundation for technology strategy.

Since the goal of technology strategy is to improve business outcomes, let’s refine the question with that as our focus: What basis for technology architecture and strategy:

(a) Aligns best with the ways that business leaders conceive, plan, execute, and measure improvements to business outcomes,

(b) Provides the best structure for building technology implementations that align with and facilitate the ways that businesses change both now and over the long haul, and

(c) Best guides the prioritization, planning, architecture, design, and usage of technology within business improvement projects?

Read more

Business Capability Architecture: Technology Strategy For Business Impact

I talk commonly to architects that are under pressure to create a cloud strategy. Or an SOA strategy. Or a BPM strategy. Or an XYZ strategy. Many will add up a few of these point strategies and call it an overall technology strategy. It’s good to know where we’re going, but is this the right way to do it? No. The problem is that this is technology-focused tech strategy. You can see it in the way we describe applications according to their dominant technology. We call them event-driven apps, or RFID apps, or whatever. Instead, to have a business-focused tech strategy, the starting point should be an understanding of what drives business outcomes. What would that look like?

Business architecture — an important and maturing domain of enterprise architecture — is changing the conversation between business people and technologists. Rather than centering on individual siloed applications, business architecture, at its best, centers conversation on the design of business outcomes and what it takes to achieve them. Within the realm of business architecture, models like business capability maps provide strong mechanisms for understanding and designing a business.

Read more

Policy-based SOA Will Enable Increased Business Value And Agility

One of my favorite Forrester survey statistics to quote about SOA is the proportion of service-oriented architecture (SOA) users that see how important SOA can be for changing their business. In our Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q4 2008 (taken after the start of the current economic crisis), 38% of Global 2000 SOA adopters said they are using SOA for strategic business transformation. This is a very high level of business impact — and far more value than was ever credited to object-oriented or component-based development. Why is this important to note? Many think of SOA first as a technology for reuse, like objects and components, and miss the reality that SOA is much more about business design and flexibility. By missing the business perspective on SOA, they miss the fact that SOA is the foundation for a much broader shift in application architecture and its relationship to the design, monitoring, and optimization of business processes.

Read more

Is Your Organization Planning For (Or Doing) Cloud Computing? We Want To Talk To You!

Forrester Principal Analyst, Randy Heffner is currently conducting research on how enterprise architects should incorporate cloud computing into their organizations’ IT strategies and architectures. He is looking for enterprise architects to interview — architects that have experience with evaluating Cloud offerings, if not actually using them. In the research, Randy is considering three broad categories of cloud computing offerings: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

 

The SPI Model Of Cloud Computing

 

Because the term “cloud computing” refers to quite diverse types of services and products, architects need to analyze and build multiple cloud strategies. Although there are potentially strong benefits, the costs, risks, and best usage scenarios are not necessarily clear. At minimum, adopting cloud-based offerings requires changes in IT’s planning, cost management, solution design, and production operations. To predict and manage the impact, architects must examine cloud options to determine the impact on their architecture plans and strategies. This report will analyze how interviewees see cloud computing’s effect on their organization’s:

Architecture planning

Solution delivery architectures and projects

Read more