Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What Enterprise Architecture?

It's discouraging how many American enterprises operate strictly from a short-term perspective. No one wants to spend money. Period. End of discussion. Investments are made only if they will immediately increase sales or decrease costs.

The disinclination to invest is particularly acute in IT.

Enterprises ought to be investing in architecture -- given the continuous, ongoing, exponentential explosion in technological innovation. Yet many enterprise architects live in fear of imminent job layoffs.

The whole Sourcing, Procurement, and Deployment (SPD) process has gone mad. All that matters nowadays is loyalty to the deal. Quality, capability, competency, elegance -- those properties are pretty much ignored.

Yet, Enterprise Architecture is vitally important. Unfortunately, the ever-expanding gulf between "haves" and "have-nots" is rapidly widening.

How much of Wal-Mart's success do you think depends on its information systems technology? Think about FedEx. In order to move "atoms" they first needed to know how to move "bits". You cannot make me believe these firms ignore architecture.

Enterprises need models that can effectively describe, inventory, simulate, etc., their business processes, business objects, business solutions (i.e., applications), and technology architecture.

Who needs enterprise architecture? It's as much for managers and businesspeople as it is for IT people. Enterprise architecture provides everybody with a single, shared, common perspective.

What kinds of organizations invest in enterprise architecture? Before answering that question, let me suggest you first look at your own org chart. Where does the CIO report? If it's the CFO, then you can pretty much assume IT is perceived as a cost center and will always be viewed as a cost center, forever.

There are enterprises -- both in industry as well as in government -- where IT provides a competitive edge. Where the CIO reports directly to the CEO, or to the COO, there's a higher probability that IT is involved in strategic planning and execution.

Puzzled and Confused

META, Gartner, Forrester, IDC, AMR -- have all written about the substantial cost savings that can be achieved through consolidation and standards -- usually between 20-30% reductions in technology portfolio costs.

Yet, CIOs have shown very little interest in wanting to collect and share information about their enterprise's technology portfolio.

My cynical side thinks that maybe there'd be too much embarrassment if businesspeople ever grasped how much waste, redundancy, and inefficiency revolves around and swirls within past software and infrastructure investments.

Standardize. Consolidate. Communicate.


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