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Have We Outsourced Our Minds? April 3, 2009

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation.
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Most of us probably already know about the scandal that is going on in India around the multi-year fraud scheme at the Satyam® Corporation. Those, who still do not know, may be referred to an editorial in CIO Magazine[i].  The author of that article discusses mostly the reaction of US partners of Satyam to this scandal, differentiating those, like State Farm®, who took the ethics issues very seriously and dropped relations with Satyam, from those, like GE®, who showed astonishing indifference to the ethics, the indifference to which the author refers as “…as long as I get the benefit that was promised to me, then nothing else matters”

The last thing I want to do is teach anybody, especially the leadership of GE, what is ethically wrong or right or how to conduct their business. I just want to point out that being immoral has very practical consequences. I am not even talking about the image of the company. After all, Yahoo® has helped to put people into political prisons in China and …nothing happened, as if anybody cared.

No, I am talking about much more inevitable consequences. As a proverb says, a fish rots from the head. But the process rarely stops there. The culture of fraud, once started at the upper management level, usually spreads throughout the whole organization. Are GE leaders sure that the services they receive from Satyam are free of fraud? Don’t they need to re-check the solutions obtained from such an organization? I would, if I were them.

Here is another, more personal experience. Recently, I have been contacted regarding a position in the newly created Enterprise Architecture practice of one of the companies from the BRIC region. The practice was advertised as thriving on the US market. I have had a phone conversation with the Director of the practice. What can I say…?

Six years ago, I had a conversation like that with the brilliant Director of the IBM GS EAI practice Marti Marut. I was absolutely astonished by the level, breadth, and depth of this man’s thinking. My subsequent job with the practice showed that not everybody there is like their Director. However, they at least had the highest standard of professionalism in him and some of his subordinates.

Now, returning to my recent conversation… I cannot say that there was a big difference in the level of understanding between this man and Mr. Marut. No, there was an abyss!

However, it is not about this specific BRIC company or its manager that I want to talk, but about their US clients, because of whom this practice is growing while that of IBM GS one is shrinking. These companies have decided to outsource not a piece of code, not a project, but the whole Enterprise Architecture. I know the short-term cost of such outsourcing is undoubtedly lower. Still, would anybody who decided to build or re-build their house consider hiring somebody from an Amazonian or African (sorry, no offense meant) tribe, who is regarded there as an architect because he can build shacks from tree brunches or (sorry again) from animal poop?  Sounds ridiculous? Not to me, not after the aforementioned conversation.

These US companies outsource their core, their future to low-professional people based solely on costs!

Have we lost our minds?

[i] M. Friedenberg. Partners and Ethics. CIO Magazine, March 1 2009.

What is IT Transformation? Really? March 27, 2009

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation.
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This post is a deliberately delayed reaction to an article with a nearly identical title  in CIO Insight Magazine: What is IT Transformation, Really? It was deliberately delayed, because I wanted to see the reaction to this paper from the Enterprise Architect community, first and foremost. I will explain why later on.

First, couple of quotations from the paper:

Check out the title again, and you’ll see one gigantic IT buzzword. Ask 10 CIOs or IT executives what “transformation” really means, and you’re bound to get 10 different answers. Does transforming your corporate IT operation mean morphing from a utility/cost center to a value creator? Reshaping your architecture or application mix? Or, perhaps, moving from a centralized model to a decentralized one, or vice versa?

I’ve heard IT leaders say “yes” to all of the above, all while using the same term–“transformation”–to describe the change.”

The author interviews several high-level practitioners and analysts’ about IT transformation, who provide absolutely different opinions on what this transformation is and what it is necessary for.

The article itself and all 12 responses to it make very interesting reading. They list almost all things IT Transformation IS NOT. We see here the same unfortunate situation as in many other methodology-level Enterprise IT-related discussions: due to lack of precise knowledge people offer their opinions, or in other words, guesses to explain a concept or a phenomenon. There are many who say that this precise knowledge on the matter is unachievable. We would respectfully disagree.

Let us take a closer look at IT Transformation. Why would anybody try to change (transform) something? Apparently, to improve its functioning. What is the main goal of IT functioning? It is to effectively and efficiently support and enhance Enterprise’s Business Model (BM). So the goal of IT Transformation is the improving of the effectiveness and efficiency of IT’s support for EBM!

Now, how this goal can be achieved? I hope it is obvious now that the modern Enterprise IT has reached Architectural degree of complexity. So, this transformation must be achieved by architectural means. Do we have the corresponding discipline that offers methods and approaches for such a transformation? Surprisingly for the author and the participants of the aforementioned discussion, yes we do! It calls Enterprise Architecture (EA)!

I am far from suggesting that those distinguished specialists have never heard of EA. However, the fact that they never connected EA and IT Transformation is very sad. Unfortunately, it shows the level of understanding of these critical issues even by high-level IT specialists. This is why we are where we are.

What we have here is a failure to communicate” – concludes the author. Yes, correct but not because of “poor communication skills”. No, it is because of a lack of any knowledge about what to say without “being perceived as mush-mouthed jargonizers”. Well said Brian, even I could have not said better!

Why would we scare each other with EA ‘IT-centric’ approach? February 22, 2009

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation.

I confess: I do not comprehend the reasons of this phenomenon. Moreover, it puts me in the state of awe. Recently, I have noticed a pattern on some EA discussions: Whatever an initial question or issue is, the discussion is quickly turned into exchanging opinions on how dangerous for Enterprise Architecture is to be IT-centric. The participants of the discussion immediately forget the initial topic and start writing almost only about this terrifying phenomenon – IT-centric EA – just scaring the … everything out of each other.

It is almost to a degree when you want to turn on the light, open the closet and say: “You see? There is no IT-centric monster here! What? Under the bed? Let us look… No, there is nothing here as well☺”!

So, let us keep lights on and try to think clearly about this scary IT-centric EA. First of all, what is Enterprise Architecture? Obviously, it is Architecture of Enterprise. Then, what is Enterprise? It is not IT-centric but IT-related venture. We can logically divide it on Business and IT parts, thus having Enterprise Business Architecture and Enterprise IT Architecture as sub-frameworks of EA. They are obviously connected and related, for the Enterprise should work as a whole. So, EA is IT-related, because modern Enterprise cannot function without Information Technology means but it is definitely not IT-centric by definition. Moreover, IT becomes less and less significant part of the Enterprise due to commoditization and migration outside of Enterprise boundaries (to the Cloud).

What is the hype, then, about IT-centricity? If being IT-centric means ignoring the Business side then it is almost as wrong as to be Business-centric, thus ignoring IT-side. They are like Yin and Yang, always together, always in conflict… I even came up with this philosophical picture of Enterprise (see below), where these Yin and Yang are penetrating and connected by the evolving spiral of the wise serpent of Methodology.

Enterprise Yin and Yang

Originally uploaded by wrivkin

This is what EA should be: Methodology-centric.

You see, guys, it is very simple: just clearly specify your framework of interest (Enterprise, Business, or IT) and make your observations and conclusions without any fear (but being incorrect, of course).

So, what about this IT-centricity-phobia? I am sure that I am mistaken, but maybe the reason is in this word ‘clearly’? Being IT-centric is so obviously wrong that it is much safer to endlessly discuss that than show your real level of understanding by actually answering the initial question? No, this is impossible…such prominent specialists…just impossible, isn’t it? Lost, completely lost. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

“The Case for Enterprise Architects”? Thank you, please do not bother. February 12, 2009

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation.

This post is about “The Case for Enterprise Architects” article published by Kim S. Nash in CIO Magazine on January 15-th (p.37). Firstly, here some quotations from the paper:
…amid an economic downturn, a position like that—without concrete and measurable financial value or, typically, any direct reports—can be difficult to justify when the board of directors demands companywide layoffs”…”So what does an EA do? The answer depends on who you talk to”…”At some companies, the position emphasizes technology, as in the planning of companywide systems. A core objective, for example, is to ensure that all new software and hardware meet standards and work together”(You need EA for THAT?!!! W.R.)…”Other companies, though, have to be convinced of the enterprise architect’s criticality.”

Do not be mistaken by the negative tone: this article is pro- Enterprise Architect position, not against it. Unfortunately, author and his interviewees  show the usual low level of comprehension, or rather lack of it, talking about what Enterprises need EA position for. Not having their own deep knowledge on the subject they all, not-surprisingly mention absolutely different purposes they use EAs for (to their credit no one mentioned sending for coffee and donuts or a janitor role).

Not one, though mentioned in the paper Enterprise Architecture . Obviously, for them Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Architects have nothing to do with each other. None said, of course, about Enterprise Architecture Frameworks, which Enterprise Architects supposedly have to create and implement for an Enterprise, using principles of Enterprise Architecture. No one had a slightest idea that such a framework should and does provide your Enterprise with ‘ concrete and measurable financial value ‘.

I have a lot of pity for  CIO Magazine and personally Mr. Nash, who made a great but not educated effort to promote an EA profession. Please, next time you write about such a sensitive issue as EA, instead of interviewing high-level-chair politicians (sorry, practitioners), consult with real specialists like Dr. Kappelmann, who was mentioned and the end of the article with what  probably mistakenly looked as a bit of lack of respect, which is absolutely undeserved and put rather unfavorable light on the author’ s journalistic habits. Your humble servant, the author of these lines ( and many articles on the issue) would also be glad to help.

So, poor us, Enterprise Architects! Nobody looks like understanding and loving us for who we are, despite our crucial importance for the modern Enterprise. Even CIO Magazine failed! I am sure that more EAs will get fired than hired, before an article describing in exact terms what EA is doing to save an Enterprise will be published. The first article of this kind, though, was already published. It is not a complete, compelling cause for EA, but probably it is a decent start.

Please find it on:’Optimize, Then Outsource’ BPMI.org

P.S. Oh, almost have forgotten! We have now this COEAPP (or COAEPPP, sorry, unable to remember) organization, who is going to defend us, Enterprise Architects! Where are you, guys?! You are our last hope. You must definitely know what the profession you swear to promote is for, don’t you? Or maybe each one of you have different ideas as well?! No, it is impossible, I refuse to believe in that! Please respond, or I am taking my poison!

BPMI featured article: Closing the Business-IT Gap Once And For All January 8, 2009

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation.
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Do we even want to have an objective conceptual description of Enterprise Architecture? And if not, why? What does it tell about us? (Full vesion) January 6, 2009

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation.
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Our sister discipline – Constructional Architecture is defined in Wikipedia in this way: “[CA] definition … includes the design of the total built environment, from the macro level of how a building integrates with its surrounding landscape (see town planning, urban design, and landscape architecture) to the micro level of architectural or construction details and, sometimes, furniture. ”

It defines the Constructional Architect profession as” “Architects have as their primary object providing for the spatial and shelter needs of people in groups of some kind (families, schools, churches, businesses, etc.) by the creative organization of materials and components in a land- or city-scape, dealing with mass, space, form, volume, texture, structure, light, shadow, materials, program, and pragmatic elements such as cost, construction limitations and technology…” As you see, this definition is very elaborate and defines also the major entities and processes of the discipline. The discipline and the profession are very tight in this definition, because the latter is based on the former.

Of course, Constructional Architecture is much older, more developed, and better understood than the Enterprise one. it has 3000 years instead of 30. However, shouldn’t we expect more from the intellectual potential of
today’s EA thought leaders, considering that they have a very good systematic example to follow?

Wouldn’t you agree that the term ‘architecture’ is not random but is applying to the systems with certain level(s) of complexity? Then it is very much possible to translate this definition into EA’s one.

Instead for EA from Wiki we have: “The term Enterprise Architecture refers to many things”(?!). The ‘definition’ continues as “To some, “Enterprise Architecture” refers either to the …., or the …. To others, “Enterprise Architecture” refers to …” Once again, it is understandable. But is it satisfactory?

Why are many of us so resistant to even an attempt to raise the level of EA to, at least, the level of CA? I say, at least, because in my opinion, EA is much more suitable to exact, scientific description for it lacks this human aesthetic component that is so important for CA and not at all for EA.

We started so well with J.Zachman’s ZAF, Spewak’s and other early framework. But look what we have now. Several government (read bureaucratic) frameworks, which serve completely  bureaucratic needs, contradict to each other in their very foundations, and concentrate on the Current, imperfect Enterprise Architectural State without any attempt to describe the Enterprise’s transformation towards the Desired one.

One of the participants of a LinkedIn discussion on EA has recently seriously offered to apply the Chaos Theory to it. Yep, chaos is what EA has currently plenty of.

State Of Enterprise IT Architecture 2008 Annual Address. January 3, 2009

Posted by wrivkin in Enterprise Architecture & Business Transformation.
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It is not accidental that the usual EA (Enterprise Architecture) abbreviation is replaced in the header of this post by IT EA. 2008 was the year when the paths of EA, which will be more and more represented by Enterprise Business Architecture (EBA), and its computing counterpart started to split . IT EA is slowly but steadily migrating to Cloud, where it hopes to feel much better. Whether these hopes are to be fulfilled, remains to be seen.

It is pointless to analyze a development in any of the major EA frameworks in 2008. In their current state, all of them constitute nothing but attempts to apply an arbitrary set of methods to an arbitrary set of entities. Without an exact and unambiguous definition of EA as a discipline these attempts will remain, well, arbitrary and fruitless. Some of them represent bureaucratic responses to legal bureaucratic requests, and all of them just concentrate on the Enterprise Current State with no or almost no attempts to predict or direct the development of the target structure – IT based Enterprise.

Lacking this definition, IT EA in 2008 remained more an art than a scientific or engineering discipline, unable to help business and IT leaders to find objective goals in IT development and corresponding methods to achieve them.

Plenty of examples of such a discontent can be found in the interviews with the best CIOs of 2007 published by “CIO Magazine” in the beginning of 2008. These interviews revealed one quite stunning detail: All of these most successful CIOs used absolutely different terms and concepts in describing their different objectives and methods! Sometimes it was on the edge of being ridiculous. For example, one CIO told the magazine how she arbitrarily set a goal of decreasing her IT budget from 2% of the company’s revenue to 1.5% just because she heard that some other CIO did that. So, she achieved it by relentlessly and senselessly cutting projects and jobs. Questions like: ”How much overall profit does my IT and each part of it generates?” or “Maybe I can quadruple the company’s profit while increasing IT’s budget up to 2.5% by introducing some groundbreaking technology or methodology advances?” seemed to slip her bright mind. It is hard to imagine the CEOs or CFOs of these or any other companies describing their goals and methods in completely arbitrary terms. It would be considered absolutely unprofessional, because they must follow the terms and laws of Economics and Business Science, no matter how different their decisions are.

It is not the same for CIOs: they just do not have an exact concept to follow, so their success or failure depends more on their individual managerial and technical talents and, thus, varies. Let us also say that none of them mentioned Enterprise Architecture as their guide in the improvements they made.

In the absence of an objective, widely accepted and approved Enterprise Architectural Transformation Framework, it is logical that more and more Business leaders in 2008 just appointed former CFOs or other financial gurus as CIOs with this sole task: to cut IT costs no matter where and how. These people, like their bosses, do not see any value in internal IT, do not understand it, and just want to get rid of it by outsourcing to the cheapest Cloud bidder. The clearest example of this is Chrysler.

What is even more stunning is that a survey, made by the same journal, revealed that CIOs see enterprise architects as the most valuable and hard to fill positions in IT. It means that they feel the necessity of EA ‘in their guts’ but cannot obtain any real help from it.

The ‘objectifying’ of ES could have changed this picture, but as the author’s experience with the EA community in 2008 shows, the majority of it does not feel the obligation to turn EA into the precise, necessary tool for Enterprise IT/Business Transformation, which their leaders are in desperate need of. Many EA thought leaders and practitioners feel very comfortable having their field in a ‘descriptive art’ state.

However, this ‘comfort’, which has lasted for almost 30 years now, is about to end. As IT reached the current state of complexity about 10 years ago, this complexity initiated an internal conflict between its level and the methods IT used to handle it. Put simply, it was (and is) the conflict between the Architectural level of the modern enterprise IT’s entities and processes, and the Design level of their creation/management. The complexity of IT’s structure is such that the inter-operation of its Design-level parts (applications) is more important than the design of each individual part. When this complexity is being handled with the same design-level methodology as in the 80s and 90s, it inevitably (objectively!) creates rigid, unmanageable structures, known as ‘spaghetti ‘architectures. The next inevitable step is creating the infamous gap between Business expectations and IT possibilities.

This gap could be easily closed if new EA approaches (BPM/ESB/SOA) were implemented in a proper, timely manner. However, as in previous years, in 2008 EA professionals were too busy creating and implementing existing and new meta-models and matrices, i.e. different ‘snapshots’ or ‘portraits’ of the current, inefficient Enterprise Architectural State. They can be proud: they now have tens more ways to describe how bad things are!

This happy lifestyle is going to end, though. The ‘writing on the wall’ was quite visible in 2008. The widening ‘gap’ has become a ‘break’. Business has, at last, lost its patience. It ‘conspires’ now with vendors (and all of them, starting with IBM, MS, HP, SAP, Oracle, are trampling each other to answer this call) to outsource its in-house IT operations to what is the ‘hype’-word of 2008 – the Cloud. IT operations and, hence, Architecture exit Enterprise, leaving its in-house ‘architects’ behind.

So, let us summarized what happened to Enterprise Architecture in 2008:

  • As IT’s complexity has continued to grow, the gap between Business and IT has reached its critical value;
  • Enterprise Architecture could help to close this gap, but its current ‘descriptive art’ state prevented it;
  • EA community did little to provide CIOs with an objective proven tool to transform the enterprise IT and satisfy Business needs;
  • Finally, Business leaders have lost their believe in the capability of in-house IT to transform; instead they accepted the policy of outsourcing internal IT operations to third-party vendors-owned structures, known now as Cloud;
  • While not happenning overnight, this process in the long term means full migration of enterprise internal operations (and their Architecture)  into Cloud.

In-house Enterprise Architecture is dying. Long live Global Cloud IT Architecture!