Business Trends in Global IT Markets Provide New Traction and Value for Enterprise Architecture

Updated: July 26, 2010

Brown: Enterprise Architecture (EA) is an umbrella term that relates to an awful lot of activity that flows further down, whether it's business IT architecture, data architecture, and so on. There are many things, but the driving force in many organizations is this need to integrate and share information.

A trend over a number of years now is that the barriers within enterprises; the silos, the departments, the stovepipes, have been broken down.

Organizations are working cross-functionally. They're bringing people together. They're working with their business partners, and they have their IT infrastructure integrated with their business partners. That has caused a requirement for people to be able to look across the entire organization and think about how IT impacts different parts of the organization and how it integrates together.

Many parts of the organization have had applications built for the stovepipes that now need to work together in ways that they were never intended, when those legacy applications were put in, because we never intended those legacy applications to last this long. But, they did, and you can't just replace them.

What's happened with what we call boundaryless information flow, or the requirement for access to integrated information under security issues, is that we're now having to deal with something called "EA" on a number of different levels.

Different Aspects

Many people have tried to define EA, and I don't think anyone has come up with a satisfactory overarching definition yet. But, there are a number of different aspects to it. At the moment, EA is focused on the IT element, although it has ambition to look at the architecture of an entire enterprise at some stage.

We're seeing continued growth in the adoption of EA in general and TOGAF in particular -- and it's continuing to grow. There are organizations that are saying that EA isn't delivering near-term to the bottom lines, so they're going to cut the cost.

There are more organizations that are saying that this is the time to invest, to rationalize, and to really drive out value from their IT investment. It varies from enterprise to enterprise. So, you're starting to see a mix of things. But, generally speaking, my experience in the developed or struggling economies is that there are more people focused on EA than not.

We're seeing EA and TOGAF adoption pretty broadly across the planet, really. Obviously the US and UK were leading, but the amount of uptake in the Asia-Pacific region right now is quite dramatic and we're starting to see that take off. But, it's really difficult to isolate any particular region.

We've now got something like 15,000 members of our professional body, the Association of The Open Group Enterprise Architects. They are, in some way or another, connected with TOGAF for our IT architect certification. Those people are distributed across 116 different countries. So, it's really quite difficult to say which is growing the most.

Boulay: Key drivers for EA in France are the necessity to move forward for big and small enterprises. Because of the downturn, the future of the enterprise is to roll out in an international, standard view. In order to roll out -- for example, for big banks on a European or worldwide basis -- they have to welcome big transformation, and this kind of big transformation can be helped by EA.

It's an architecture issue to transform local enterprise to a worldwide or a European enterprise. This is a huge opportunity for enterprise architects and for EA to help in this big change. So, there is no downturn for EA, because if we use it and build a new EA practice in order to better address this kind of job, it's a huge opportunity for us. There is no downturn for us. It's only a matter of finding the right skills in order to help enterprise go abroad.

We spent a lot of time to move from IT EA to real EA. Now, I think we're mature enough to take the new capability brought by the new technologies. Cloud should be one of them. And now, once more we're ready to move from the old-fashioned way of sharing resources to better practices brought by new technology. You can transform the business, but you also can transform the way to consume IT.

Forde: The Chinese market is really very interesting. There's an opportunity there for the EA practice to grow massively. For the most part, larger enterprises in the China region are relying on the brand name western companies to do strategy and planning, and there is very limited internal capability, knowledge, and experience around EA.

I've been hearing from folks in various organizations, both state-owned companies and others, that they're reluctant to step away from these brand-name companies, because there is a certain degree of security around the planning and activities that go on there, but there is also a degree of dissatisfaction that they aren't feeling in control of their own fate.

Over the next several years, I anticipate the development of internal architecture practices and an up-scaling of staff. The universities already have in place CIO forums and executive MBA activities that explicitly deal with EA as a set of concepts. Over time, I think that it's going to find it's place in the Chinese organizations.

At the moment, they're still continuing with this kind of organic growth of the IT approach to things, which is something that the Western markets dealt with 15 years ago, and found the need for a more planful approach to doing things.

This is the opportunity for us in EA in that particular market. The issue is that at the leadership level in these companies there isn't a perception that they need to do anything, because the problem hasn't actually arrived broadly inside China, from what I'm seeing.

Gejnevall: Transformation has always been a big driver in the enterprise Architecture Forum, but what we see these days is that getting your IT under control has been a major factor for going into the EA side of things. Slowly the companies now are connecting the IT structures they have with the business.

It was a struggle in the beginning, and most of the EA projects were IT-based projects, but now, business is starting to understand the full impact and understand that the IT solutions that we create should really be aligned with the long-term strategies and objectives of the organizations.

In the past, public sector has been pretty slow on the uptake, but recently we're doing a lot of business with healthcare services and so on. They're really large organizations, with 30,000, 40,000, or 50,000 people, and they have lots of different divisions. They need to work together in a collaborative fashion and fulfill the long term goals that the politicians have set up for them.

Macgregor: South Africa is slightly different, because EA is from the business side, rather than from technology. A lot of organizations have spent a lot of money working on business processes, and that business process architecture across the business domain is now being linked to the technology domains.

In fact, we're coming from the top down, instead of from the technology side upward. South Africa currently has roughly 10 percent of the Architecture Forum membership, all South Africans, and there is a big adoption of TOGAF in South Africa. If you look at our GDP in comparison, it's quite exceptional.

That's really been because of The Open Group's presence in South Africa, organizing events, a lot of TOGAF training, a lot of certification, a lot of press articles, and really driving the business value and the business understanding of what EA is about.

We have had for example, SASOL which is one of the larger petrochemical organizations, adopt TOGAF, working it into the government standard. What their enterprise architect did, is he bought Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, the Jeanne Ross book, and distributed to senior executives. Given that it is written in business-speak, it really led to the adoption and understanding of what EA is about, and was quite serious for the uptake within the business.

We differ across business sectors as well, in that our financial services sector -- again, a big focus on the business process area -- are lagging in the technology domain, and that's now a key focus area bringing that up to speed.

We're seeing greater focus on modeling and defining information architecture. We're understanding the difference between information architecture and data architecture and using that as a way of bridging the gap between business and technology, while tackling the information architecture domain.

Body of Knowledge

Forde: The learning that has occurred in the Western markets have produced a body of knowledge in TOGAF that can accelerate for other companies the way they adopt and improve their ability to deliver on strategy, planning, and execution.

Once the recognition is there inside companies, when the need arrives, those companies in that market that have planned for this will start to really accelerate in terms of their global position.

Gejnevall: Capgemini has put together a number of service offerings worldwide that we are adapting to the conditions of each one of the countries. We can see that things like boundaryless information -- being able to use information in new ways -- is something that every company wants to do.

In cloud, it always comes into the discussion, even though people don't quite know how to use it yet. I think The Open Group's effort around cloud computing can actually help that to a large extent. The ROI paper on cloud computing, for instance, will be a tremendous help for a lot of companies to have a look at and see what can they do. But, everything is moving very, very slowly. In countries like Sweden, the bigger companies might try these out, but the smaller ones are not ready yet.

Brown: Everything I hear says that organizations that are involved in EA in general, and TOGAF in particular, are finding it much easier to integrate with business partners. Mergers and acquisitions are enabled more effectively. So, in working with other organizations, as we get more and more connected, EA is a positive force in that.

Depending on the maturity of the company and of the region, you might be talking anywhere from six-month payback on an EA activity to a three-year payback.

You can get to one of the conferences and share experiences with other members. That's the key area to start. But, if you can't do that, then there is an awful lot of available information. At the minimum, TOGAF itself is available freely online for people to read, look at, and use within their own organization.

You can buy the book, if it's easier to have that. If you want to go to the next state, there are many trainee organizations that can train your people in TOGAF. If you can't avail yourself of that -- there are some countries where that's not possible -- then there is a study guide that you can get from The Open Group to work your way through.

Forde: The body of work that we have available to us in TOGAF is that, if you look at it as a tool in the context of the problem you're trying to solve, you can drive immediate value. If you look at it as some sort of massive program that you're going to implement, you're looking at a longer term payback.

So, it's very important for individuals and companies to approach EA with a specific problem in mind, not just some sort of generic goodness thing that they're looking at.

There are a number of places [to get started]. The first and foremost one will be the membership of The Open Group, and particularly the Architecture Forum. You've got people sitting around this microphone right now that can help, and you've got people out at the conference who have an enormous background and this capability.

Then, in the member companies, either on the supplier side, on the customer side, or in academia, you also have resources available. Those are the places to go to find out what you need to do, and what the approaches can be used, and in a practical sense, what the barriers and the pitfalls are in the approaches. People here have been there, done that, and that's where you need to go, to the experience.
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