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Don’t Fool Yourself About Data Management

The early stages of adopting a data strategy often involve an ad-hoc approach to data management. Rather than invest in a suite of new tools, businesses tend to make do with what they have already, starting small and eventually formalizing the approach.

In many cases, this could be the best approach – or at least better than wasting an investment on shelfware, right?

But if your business wants to use its data effectively, a point inevitably will come when the data has outgrown the makeshift means in which it is managed.

data management

Harder to Manage and Share

Enterprise architecture (EA), for example, can start as a collection of Visio files, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides, but it’s never long before the EA starts spilling from the Office Tools and onto the desk – literally. It’s not uncommon to see EA represented as Post-it Notes haphazardly scattered across a workstation.

For a while, an enterprise architect might be able to maintain this approach. But when the information needs to be shared with the wider business to influence decisions and strategy, the lack of structure can make the findings difficult to comprehend.

This not only slows down time to markets and leads to inaccurate analysis and results, but it also undermines EA’s value in the eyes of stakeholders and decision-makers. If they can’t clearly see the business outcomes, then why bother investing more money in the discipline?

Harder to Analyze

Taking this approach also limits the potential analysis an organization can even carry out. With the Office Tools approach, even though the software all falls under the “Office” bracket, the files and systems are still disparate.

Traditionally, this was less of an issue for EA in years gone by. Foundational EA, as we refer to it today, was and is about support, rather than innovation. Businesses weren’t really actioning an EA initiative to give insight into where they could innovate, the likelihood of disruption, and how that disruption could be capitalized on.

EA was more about “legacy” IT tasks like keeping the lights on, highlighting redundant systems and processes, and trimming fat to keep costs low. In other words, it was more concerned about the current state of the business and less about what needs to be done to achieve the desired future state.

In-depth and all-inclusive analysis required to maximize the data’s potential benefits, needs to be stored in one repository.

Harder to Maintain

And what happens if your enterprise architect leaves? His/her work may be rendered useless to the business due to the lack of formality.

So don’t fool yourself about data management. Given all these consideration, you need to invest in effective data management so your business can truly capitalize on its data and the valuable insights it will provide.

Data Management - Enterprise Architecture & Data Modeling White Paper

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Overcoming Teething Problems in Enterprise Architecture

Historically, the teething problems in enterprise architecture have prevented it from realising its full potential. However, the uptick in data-driven business has made the practice essential, meaning organizations are looking for an enterprise architecture approach that works best for them.

Although they might not always be immediately obvious to the outsider, the value of Enterprise Architects to EAs and even many CIOs is clear. The practice has long been one of the best drivers of business transformation, and IT/business alignment.

Yet over the years, a number of studies indicate hurdles in the early stages of Enterprise Architecture maturity that can stop businesses progressing further with the scheme.

Take Gartner for example. In a 2007 survey from the world renowned tech analyst, Gartner found that 40% of Enterprise Architecture initiatives would be stopped. A later survey (2015) indicates at least a degree of accuracy in the former, as it showed 70% of businesses were looking to either start, or restart an Enterprise Architecture programme.

It seems as if, although businesses are aware of the advantages of an EA practice, actually introducing one can be difficult.

With that said, this blog will covers things to consider when implementing an EA practice to avoid the historical problems in enterprise architecture initiatives and ensure it’s success going forward.

Problems in Enterprise Architecture: EA Needs Time

Businesses that adopt EA on a whim – in that they know they should be doing in EA, but don’t fully understand why – will likely run into this issue.

We must understand that Enterprise Architecture is far from an overnight fix. In fact, it’s the polar opposite. Although EA might highlight areas where overnight and radical change could benefit a business, the initiative itself is a constant and gradual effort in working to align business and IT, aid in strategic planning, and improve processes.

As time goes on, the degree to which these efforts can positively affect the business will also increase, as the EA practice becomes more mature. The added capabilities of EA are indicated in Gartner’s maturity model shown below.

Teething Problems in Enterprise Architecture: EA Maturity Model

This is important for two reasons. Firstly, a maturing Enterprise Architecture practice implies business growth, and so more EA has to be done in order to cope, as there is  more to manage.

Secondly, maturing in EA enables businesses to do a different kind of Enterprise Architecture. The typical, Foundational EA tasks – the one’s we refer to as keeping the lights on – will still be carried out. However, a more mature Enterprise Architecture practice can start using EA more aggressively, actioning what is known as Vanguard Enterprise Architecture Enterprise Architecture.

This kind of EA is more proactive, and it’s practitioners focus more on identifying opportunities and disruptions. This is the EA largely responsible for pushing business transformation and innovation, and so their results often have more lucrative, tangible results.

Most practices that abandon EA, do so without moving too far along the maturity model and so in most cases, are only doing entry level, Foundational Enterprise Architecture.

Problems in Enterprise Architecture: EA Needs Attention

Much of EA consists of strategic planning. Thanks to the practice’s macrocosmic (top down) view of the organization, and business wide responsibility, the planning carried out by EA’s can affect the business as a whole. When dealing with change of this nature, what is implemented cannot be started and left to integrate on its own. This sort of radical change needs to be guided and supervised.

This is why if a business is going to take on EA, they need to think about the EAs wider role in the organization. Who should they report to, who should report to them etc.

Many people make the case that EAs should report directly to the CIO, and in fact, hold an advisory role to the CIO as well. Gartner analyst, Brian Burke echoes this sentiment, stating: “We’ve witnessed a change in mind-set, execution and delivery of EA. The value of EA is not in simply ‘doing EA’, but rather in how it can help evolve the business and enable senior executives to respond to business threats and opportunities.”

Therefore, just implementing the scheme isn’t enough. It needs aftercare. This is why EAs should work closely with CIOs, and the benefits of this come two-fold. On one side, the CIO gains a valuable asset in having an adviser with perhaps the most broad, top down view of the organization and its structure, in the business. On the other, the Enterprise Architect has a role more closely aligned with the top table, and can exercise more pull in decision making.

This relationship, and the extra attention to EA it provides could be the difference between success in EA, and an amassment of half started projects and eventual lapse in investment.

Enterprise Architecture & Data Modeling White Paper

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Enterprise Architecture’s Economic Value

In the past, the economic value of enterprise architecture has been hard to show.

Yearly surveys routinely indicate a need for enterprise architecture (EA). CIOs often list implementing or improving an EA initiative as a top priority. Despite their position at the “top table”, CIOs are still expected to justify their plans to invest in EA (or elsewhere), based on the plan’s expected effectiveness.

In theory, the benefits of enterprise architecture should justify themselves. But the niche and expert nature of the practice means the value doesn’t always translate well to those outside of the immediate stakeholder community.

In this case, CIOs, Chief Architects, EAs and the like, need to show the economic value of enterprise architecture. But how?

The Economic Value of Enterprise Architecture

The Economic Value of Enterprise Architecture

The need for enterprise architecture can be summed up by two of its main goals – aligning the business and its operations with IT, and bridging the gap between the organization’s current state, and its desired future state.

The economic value of enterprise architecture often comes as a result of nearing the ideal state of these two goals. I say nearing, as Enterprise Architecture initiatives rarely achieve perfect alignment. The two goals work against each other in this regard – success in bridging the current/future gap, creates a constantly changing landscape, and business/IT alignment has to be adjusted accordingly.

With this in mind, it could be said that the economic value of enterprise architecture is achieved in the long term, as opposed to the shorter term. That said, there are a number of markers of success that can be achieved along the way – each providing clear and tangible benefits to the organization that undoubtedly hold economic value of their own merit.

There are a number of indicators of success within EA that indicate the initiative’s economic value. Four core indicators come in the form of improving strategic planning, communication and risk evaluation, and tactical advancements. These markers can be seen as best practices in order to work towards, to fufil the overall goal of making an EA initiative an economic success.

Improving Strategic Planning

Enterprise architecture is often seen as the bridge between defining a strategy and its implementation – hence one of EAs main goals being to bridge the gap between the business’ current state, and its future.

EA adds a much needed dimension of transparency to strategy implementation. It’s often the guiding rope for implementing strategy that will affect the whole business. Because different business departments often work in silos that aren’t all completely in sync, new initiatives can suffer from a lack of foresight and lead to disparity and disconnections in data and ideas.

Enterprise architecture works as a framework to ensure no department/silo is overlooked, and that with the new strategy, each separate business arm is still working towards the same goal.

Bettering Communication

Enterprise architecture is arguably concerned with strategic planning, first and foremost. But there will always come a time when that strategy has to be communicated to the wider business for it to be successfully implemented.

The problem most businesses will find here, is that due to the holistic, top down, and all encompassing perspective EA has on the business, and the universal/inter-departmental changes any strategy EAs suggest can cause.

This is where the right enterprise architecture tool is important. Rather than just the actioning of enterprise architecture itself.

The right enterprise architecture tool can enable the various stakeholders relevant to a proposed scheme, to actually collaborate on the project to ensure the strategy works in the best interest of all parties.

In the past, enterprise architecture has been deemed as an “ivory tower” profession, catering only to the expert. This is still true to some extent, especially when talking about back end data and the repository. However, that doesn’t mean the results at the front end aren’t useful to non Enterprise Architects.

The right tool can enable true collaboration (in tool, not just reports and feedback which can slow down the process) and therefore be a great asset to line managers, C-Level executives and others as they can be a more critical part of the planning process.

All in all, this facilitating of true collaboration should improve the communication and coordination of strategy implementation, and lead to less false starts, wrong turns and a return on investment that’s both faster and more fruitful.

Tactical Improvements

As well as improving the strategic planning process, enterprise architecture plays a huge role in improving processes overall. By taking a look into what is aligned, and what isn’t, EAs can uncover areas of redundancies – where two separate processes are being actioned when they could be merged into one.

There are many examples of this across varying sectors, especially when an organization has been void of EA until now, or is on the lower end of EA maturity. These businesses tend to be less aligned and so suffer from the issues typical to such situations. These issues can range from a non standardized practice for keeping and labeling data, leading to duplication and corruption, to different departments holding separate licenses for software that does essentially the same thing.

By identifying these discrepancies, enterprise architects can save an organization both time and money. Both of which hold clear economic value.

Taking Better Risks

Modern enterprise architecture is often seen as a two headed coin. One side, the Foundational side, deals with the ‘legacy’ IT-based tasks – what we refer to as keeping the lights on, keeping costs down etc. The tactical value of enterprise architecture resonates most vibrantly here.

Vanguard enterprise architecture is the other side of this coin. This more modern take on enterprise architecture was introduced to reflect ITs shift from a solely support based domain, to a role more central to the business.

Vanguard EAs are the forward thinkers, more concerned with innovating, and bridging current and future gaps in technology, than the alignment in the present. In this regard, enterprise architecture becomes a fantastic tool for evaluating risk.

Although evaluating risk can never be seen as an exact science, vanguard EAs are invaluable in that they can help indicate what strategies should, or should not be pursued based on their potential value to the business, and the costs it could take to implement them.

The Business Capability Model, for example, can indicate what a business is already suited to achieve. Therefore, they can be used to point out strategies the business might be able to implement more readily.

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How Does a Vanguard Enterprise Architect Manage Innovation?

We should move away from the ‘burden of innovation’ expression. Innovation is born of free thought, expression and creativity, and to label such a notion a ‘burden’ has always seemed a bizarre turn of phrase.

Of course, some people are naturally better at innovation than others, and those that struggle with the discipline may feel burdened with pressure if you demand innovation from them. But it’s unlikely that either employees or business leaders will feel oppressed by the notion that their good ideas will have a positive impact on the business.

Gartner: “By 2016, 30% of global organizations will establish a clear role distinction between Foundational and Vanguard Enterprise Architects.”

It’s for these reasons why Enterprise Architecture going forward, needs to adopt the Vanguard Enterprise Architect.

An innovation driver, the Vanguard enterprise architect deals with technology disruptions and enterprise connectivity; as opposed to the Foundational Enterprise Architect, who maintains enterprise technology and the systems of record.

Gone are the days whereby innovation is managed by a small group (i.e  a Research and Development team). We now welcome an era of collaboration, enabled by the speed and quality of communication the Internet can offer, and further enhanced by the Cloud.

With digital business, innovation should (and will) permeate every aspect of business – Enterprise Architecture included. In fact, Enterprise Architecture will arguably be the most imbued business department, due to their governance over steering innovation for the business as a whole.

EA’s will have to manage the current state of the business, but now the non-linear tasks attributed to digital business are also a duty. These are two very different responsibilities and therefore, not only warrant, but demand two clearly defined and distinguished roles.

Bimodal IT

Bimodal IT is a business mantra whereby an organization fundamentally acknowledges the separation between new and old IT. The reason for its inception, is the maturing role of IT within organizations. Over time, we can see that IT has evolved, indicating it’s taken on new responsibilities, but hasn’t shed the old ones.

It’s become more capable and more essential, and so the tasks IT departments have to carry out have grown, rather than changed. Bimodal is a method of acknowledging this evolution, and effectively coping with it.  This is why colloquially, bimodal IT has been summarized as having your cake (old IT) and eating it too (new).

It accounts for two ‘modes’. Mode 1 being the more traditional, responsible for “keeping the lights on” – the cost savings, efficiency improving, core tasks we’re used to from IT.

Mode 2 on the other hand, is responsible for ‘new IT’ tasks, like innovation and businesses more disruptive factors. Sound familiar?

That’s because bimodal IT is closely aligned with the idea of a Vanguard EA. In fact, for either to work at their full potential, both should be employed in tandem.

The separation between the two modes and the two roles shouldn’t get in the way though. With well actioned collaboration, organizations can ensure their processes are carried out in the open for the relevant parties.

If teams behind both modes, and Enterprise Architects occupying either role (Foundational or Vanguard) are aware of what one another are doing and even share resources in order to help one another, the system becomes frictionless. This effectively blurs the antithetic nature of the disciplines as in the end, everybody is still working towards bettering the business and it’s operations.

Bimodal Mode 1 and 2

The above shows the differences between the two modes. Most prominent perhaps, is the increased IT agility awarded by Mode 2. In an ever changing field such as digital business, agility should be a priority for any organization.

Benefits of Enterprise Architecture Tools in Bimodal IT

A good Enterprise Architecture tool (or digital business platform) can aid the alignment of the two modes. You’ll be able to clearly identify the different assets associated with the modes, as well as facilitate improved communication between the relevant parties.

The benefits don’t end here though.

With an efficient, agile EA tool, planning can becoming more accurate and reliable through the well applied use of roadmaps; you’ll be better equipped to understand the impact and costs of change; business and IT assets can be standardized so everyone is always on the same page – facilitating better communication; the traceability of objectives to projects will be improved, increasing visibility; and with all this in mind, collaboration between individuals and teams will benefit too. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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