The Future of EA is no EA

An excellent blog post by Jeff Scott from Forrester on the future of EA has got me thinking about the most likely future state of EA in DCC.

The most obvious future and one which i entirely agree with is that EA as a function will disappear in time. My previous post about mainstreaming ICT functions supports this view as everything becomes a core business competency. But what happens between now and then and what direction are we really moving in and more importantly what direction will the organisation accept us to move in?

In my personal opinion i would suggest the there are two options which are most likely in DCC over the next few years and i think we are likely to end up with both of these scenarios:

Scenario 3: EA remains in IT, largely focused on technology architecture.This seems to be the most likely outcome for small to medium sized IT organizations. In this option business architecture will be developed primarily as input into the technical architecture. The key to success here will be for EAs to evolve from technology planners to true IT strategists.

Scenario 4: EA remains in IT but becomes more business focused.This model will be prevalent in medium to large IT organizations where IT has developed a strong partnership with the business. Here, EAs will be welcome at the business planning table and will be well regarded by business and IT for their ability to match business needs with IT capabilities. The business architecture focus here will be business-IT alignment. EA’s resources will be about evenly split between BA and technology initiatives. Successful architects will be very business savvy but keep their technology roots.

There are some justifications behind my thinking which i will share with you now.

Scenario 3
The likelihood of this future is related to a number of key factors – the ability for the EA team to maintain business people within it.  If this is maintained then this future will become less likely, however without real Business engagement and acceptance across all areas of the organisation to the benefits of Enterprise Architecture as an approach and not just conversations between ICT people and Business people trying to bridge the gap, then we will inevitably resort to Technical Architecture work.

Scenario 4
The likelihood of this future is already taking shape, our new ICT strategy is very much business focused and we already have a team in the business who are leading on Information Architecture. The challenges for this scenario however are again the ability of the team to engage with Business people and to maintain the business skills already developed in the team. However i would suggest that over time the focus of the team will be driving the technical architecture in response to the business. I also think that the business architecture function will not only be about Business/IT alignment but the architecture of the IT function itself.

If we get to a point where the IT function has had appropriate levels of business architecture then it would seem a likely next step to embrace Scenario 1 and 2 – The EA team disappears as a unique function and is absorbed totally by the Business as a core competency.

In my humble opinion we would have succeeded as an Enterprise Architecture function if this outcome is achieved.

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Nick Malik on requirements

MS blogger Nick Malik has written an extremely comprehensive post about what can go wrong when setting up software requirements. I think many of the issues he raises are applicable to architectural processes as well.

http://tinyurl.com/cxhk4n


ICT needs to change

I’m Pete, another member of our recently formed Enterprise Architect team. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the November Gartner Symposium in Cannes for the last 10, possibly 11 years. Every year, I say “this will be my last symposium”. This has been my last symposium!

This entry breaks the pattern of previous blogs on this site  … breaking form seems to be my role in life. I find these Gartner events incredibly stimulating and thought provoking: I anticipate them for months beforehand and I make use of them to inform my strategic thinking for the next 12 months … and co-incidentally bore my colleagues to death with my perpetual mantras. This year has been no exception: for the last 6 months alongside the development of our Enterprise Architecture Programme and Future State Architecture, we’ve been attempting to jump start innovation in the organisation. We’ve looked variously at: cutting email and exponential growth in unmanaged document storage and copies; easing the change to mobile and flexible working by providing unified communication tools; working more closely with trusted partners by sharing devices and networks and  providing a simple secure email and data exchange service with small providers and individuals; allowing knowledge workers to  use of personal devices for work …..

At each turn, Operational ICT  groups in most organisations defend by moving rapidly to Command & Control mode, arming ICT policemen to protect the business from itself. We are no different … and I’ve played my part in it! My biggest learning experience and revelation at the 2008 Symposium has been the crystallisation of these ideas in presentations by Steve Prentice, Monica Basso, Ken McGee, David Furlonger and John Mahoney: for me, they’re all recognising  & promoting the same future state:

  • Consumerisation of ICT makes users unwilling to accept policing by ICT & blocking of the innovation which will add value to their business
  • Digital Natives dominate by 2018 and they won’t accept corporate ICT and its limitations & controlling approach

ICT needs to change:

  • ICT’s new role is to advise the business how new technologies can be adopted securely, and to educate about the business risks – its a business decision to determine whether those risks are then acceptable or not
  • Future ICT will focus on core strengths and core systems; knowledge workers and Digital Natives will provide their own productivity tools
  • A substantial proportion of Users, whether Digital natives and / or Knowledge will provision, support and use their own ICT productivity ICT tools and devices without central ICT – ICT’s role is to make this feasible while keeping the core secure

Gartner have made the Keynote sessions available on their website: you can view the webcast at:

http://www.gartner.com/it/sym/2008/esc20/keynotes.jsp. I particularly recommend the sections by Steve Prenctice and Andy Kyte.

No-one believes that these events are hard work – I’ll admit its an extremely attractive venue, Paris is only 5 hours away by TGV [why can’t the UK get its act together?] and there is a little time to enjoy!

cannes