Monday, February 09, 2009

Strong IT Architecture Doubly Important in Tough Economic Times, Says Open Group Expert Panel

Transcript of podcast panel discussion on the role and future of enterprise architecture, recorded at The Open Group's 21st Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in San Diego, Feb. 2, 2009. Special thanks to Paul van der Merwe and Louw Labuschagne of realIRM of South Africa for audience polling features.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes and Podcast.com. Learn more. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect. Today we welcome our listeners to a sponsored podcast discussion coming to you from The Open Group's 21st Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in San Diego, Feb. 2, 2009.

This podcast, part of a series on events and major topics at this conference, centers on enterprise architecture (EA), its role in IT and its role in the business. [Read and hear a related interview with The Open Group CEO Allen Brown.]

We're going to look at the value and role of architecture in light of a dynamic business environment. We've seen tremendous change in just a matter of months across the globe. Prices of commodities are going up and down by a factor of 50 percent in a matter of months. This is creating a new dynamic for businesses -- and therefore also for IT departments.

We're going to take a look at why enterprise architecture -- particularly when it's involved or related to service-oriented architecture (SOA), cloud computing, and security -- plays what I think is an extremely important role, and is something that will become more important, not less, in the short-term.

Here to help us weed through the issues of enterprise architecture is our panel. Please welcome Tony Baer, senior analyst at Ovum. We're also joined by Janine Kemmeren, enterprise architect at Getronics Consulting and chair of the Architecture Forum Strategy Working Group in The Open Group.

We have Chris Forde, vice president and technology integrator at American Express and chair of the Architecture Forum in The Open Group; as well as Jane Varnus, architecture consultant for the enterprise architecture department at the Bank of Montreal, and Henry Peyret, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

We've been hearing an awful lot about TOGAF, and particularly TOGAF 9, but enterprise architecture frameworks are a larger construct, and the relationship between them is something we need to manage. I want to look principally at the relationship between business alignment of IT, business value and outcomes.

My first question goes to Henry. How do EA frameworks generally help businesses align their technology with their dynamic goals?

Henry Peyret: Today, the issue of frameworks is very generalized. They should be customized to fit to the business. I continue to hear that we should align the business with IT, and I think that there is something that is changing currently, where we should synchronize business and IT. That means that we should prepare IT to be not only in line, but synchronized with the business.

What does that mean? That means that the EA framework should be customized and continuously adjusted to the business requirements. That means that sometimes we will collect some artifact and then end the collection of that artifact, because it doesn't mean anything at that point, and we should change to another artifact, which we fit to the new requirements, to the new dynamic.

Gardner: It’s important, of course, for the IT folks to be able to explain the value of architecture, why they need to look across the different aspects of IT, and try to bring a strategic value to them, leveraging such things as TOGAF and other frameworks.

Tony Baer, what are some of the new ways that the IT people need to communicate to the business people, in order to continue to maintain a strategic operative funding?

Value of consistency


Tony Baer: The most important thing, and it's a goal that IT has attained more in the breach, is being consistent. In other words, as opposed to being assigned a project, with maybe 80 percent of the budget you need and 60 percent of the time -- and by the way, the requirements become a moving target -- IT needs a consistent means for translating the undoable to the doable.

This means having consistent process for evaluating the requirements that come in, and evaluating your capabilities, versus what types of regulatory constraints you have, versus -- and here is where the business input comes in -- the speed of change and the velocity of the marketplace.

Without a consistent process, you're going to be reinventing it each time. The most important means for IT to communicate with the business, besides getting to know the business better, is have a consistent process.

Gardner: Chris Forde, there are naysayers nowadays. You can get a lot of hype on just about any side of many arguments. From your perspective, what are the chief components of continuing to invest in architecture, even in a downturn, and what are the paybacks in terms of some of these tremendous shifts, including mergers, acquisitions and consolidations? What are the top three or four rationales?

Chris Forde: The degree of change that we're seeing in the economy and its implications for businesses are -- Nick used the phrase Tsunami during his presentation earlier today -- and that’s really not an understatement. What you have to do is keep your eye on the ball, and the ball is not enterprise architecture. The ball is where the business needs to manage and operate itself effectively.

When the rules change, you can’t just reach back into the same old bag of tricks around architecture. You have to sit down with your partner and say, "Okay, what has changed? Why has it changed, and how do we respond to this?" You need good people with good heads on their shoulders to be able to do that.

Gardner: Let’s take our first question to the audience. They'll see a slide come up with the next question, and that is looking at this impact on the economy, on the whole architecture-IT business alignment set of issues. [Special thanks to Paul van der Merwe and Louw Labuschagne of realIRM of South Africa for audience polling features.]

We're going to be asking you once again to vote with your pads, and the question is: "Does a need for higher general productivity from IT, which loosely means more business value for the same or less money, promote the use of an enterprise architecture framework like TOGAF?"

If you agree, yes; if you disagree, no. Once again, the need for higher general productivity from IT promotes the use of an enterprise architecture framework, yes or no.

While we're tabulating our scores, why don’t we look also at the role of enterprises, and the difference between these various frameworks? There is the Zachman Framework, FEAF, DoDAF, Gartner, and MODAF. I wonder if we need to look at how these relate, rather than how they stand on their own.

Let me take that to Jane Varnus. What is the relationship among these various frameworks, and how should that change in the near term?

Value and history

Jane Varnus: All the frameworks have a valid history and purpose. Every practice has to look at which one is more relevant, both as to its maturity, its goals, and its business, and understand the strengths and appropriateness of the framework they're assessing.

For example, Zachman can be understood and used by inter-practitioners and as a reference point to discuss other frameworks, but none of these are complete. At this point, we're still at an early stage. All the frameworks have value and they all have strengths in different pieces of the workspace.

Gardner: Henry, you said also something around this federation of frameworks.

Peyret: Yes. We just did a survey about framework use in December, and approximately 60 percent of our customers still make their own custom framework. There are more than 40 frameworks available in the market. Why are we still building our own? That’s the main question. Why? Probably because we don't understand what exactly a framework is.

We're able to make a framework to draw broadly across the enterprise. One issue is to take a framework that really fits the enterprise culture. Another also is the maturity of enterprise architecture at the same time.

Just to paraphrase a comment to Jane prior to joining the round table, we've seen a lot of mistakes about choosing those frameworks, because it was chosen only by the enterprise architect. A good framework is one that helps to communicate with the other stakeholders. That means that sharing the same work presentations, the same vocabulary, and the same context. It's absolutely key to choose the right framework.

Gardner: Do you think we're at a point where we need to consolidate, standardize, and reduce the number? What would be the right balance between customization and standardization?

Peyret: I now have more than 10 years in enterprise architecture, and I feel that no one fits every type of enterprise. So, standardizing to only one framework will never happen. I remember a time when I said, "No, the Zachman Framework was not enough, take my own, and I was wrong, and I changed my mind.

Gardner: There you have it. Change is the only constant. Looking now at our first question, not too surprising, given that we have a group of IT architects and planners, 77 percent agree that the need for higher general productivity promotes the use of enterprise architecture.

That’s a pretty strong return on investment (ROI) indicator, when productivity and change are two essential ingredients in normal times, and particularly in a downturn. Only 23 percent disagree with that.

We've talked quite a bit today about business value, the alignment issue between the IT and the outcomes. Our next question is: "Good strategic level IT architecture practices will concretely demonstrate a business value in 12 months or less."

We're looking for a time frame here. How long a term do we need to get for our return on investment?

Please continue to vote, and while you do that we are going to discuss certification, because compliance issues, other concerns about human resources and competency, come to the fore when you have to reduce headcounts. The heads that you keep or you hire have to be extremely good, valuable, capable people.

Let’s take this to Janine Kemmeren. Janine, certification, why is it more important now then ever?

Market demands

Janine Kemmeren: It's now more important than ever because -- and it's a good thing TOGAF 9 has progressed on this -- the market now asks for people who can show that they're capable of doing enterprise architecture.

Gardner: What is the root cause for the rapid increase in certification that we have seen? Is this a function of human resources wanting to see certification before they'll hire, or people recognizing they can increase their value and their career benefit by seeking certification? Any sense of whether this is a supply or a demand function?

Kemmeren: I think it’s both. It’s showing you can do it, and asking people to ensure they can.

Gardner: Let’s take the same question to Chris Forde. Certification, supply and demand, why do you see this as such a skyrocketing aspect of frameworks?

Forde: Certification is a playing-field leveler for organizations, both the consumers and the suppliers. It's somewhere you can apply a rule set and say, "Well, the likelihood that I'm going to get a competent individual is raised, if there are associated standards that are generally accepted and adhered to." Terry talked about this in his presentation earlier today.

To the extent that we have a certification program and a certification body that is credible and is rigorous, you raise the bar for the profession. When you raise the bar for the profession, you get incremental value added over time.

So the certification mechanism for me is a long-term activity. It's not just a snap, and then away we go. We're going to see the benefits of this over the next five to seven years.

Gardner: Tony Baer, governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) are also very important nowadays. The security issue is something that needs to be thought through from beginning to end in a life cycle, not as an add-on or something that you consider as an afterthought. What do you see as the relationship between the certification trend's rapid uptake, and the security and compliance issues?

Baer: I'll give an example that comes out of the software development life cycle. Back when we had mainframe applications or client-server, you didn’t even have a concept of firewall back then. Nothing really went out of the enterprise, except what you communicated, let’s say through EDI.

At that time it was really all about perimeter, but the perimeter was access control. Then, in the early days of the Internet, we started putting in firewalls. You had specialists, and it developed as a branch of facility security.

However today, no matter how secure you try and write your code, there are all these back doors that keep opening up. You see that just from the insane rate of patches that come through almost weekly on browsers or whatever. It’s gotten to the point where, even if we had enough security professionals in the world, there just aren't enough. It's impossible to keep pace with the rate at which holes are opening up.

Design for security

The only thing we can do is borrow a lesson from manufacturing, which is to design for quality, testability, and security. We'll bring this back into certification shortly, but what you're seeing right now in the software tools market, for example, is that developers and testers are having to test their code for security. You can’t just throw it over the wall to the security professionals.

What this really means today is that there isn't a single standard or certification for security. Yes, there are security certifications, but increasingly they are being embedded in the various jobs we perform in the life cycle of developing software.

Gardner: It didn’t seem that long ago when architects didn’t necessarily concern themselves with security. Now, they should, and so they should get certified.

Baer: No question, because basically the dangers have multiplied so much. There is no single class, and besides, it’s not just a matter of perimeter security.

Gardner: The best way for security is to make it a core methodology.

Baer: Embed it. We found it in manufacturing. The Japanese proved it to us with their cars back in the 1980s, designed for quality the first time with no rework. It's much cheaper in the long run, and the car is better in the long run. The same goes for security.

Gardner: Let’s go back to our audience survey. "The impact on business value from good strategic IT architectural practices will concretely demonstrate a business value in 12 months or less."

Fifty-five percent believe that this has a fairly short-term return. That’s encouraging, and 45 percent are saying no -- you either won’t get it at all or it will take longer.

Let’s go to our next question. Get your pads ready. We're going to open up the time frame a little bit. "Good strategic IT architectural practices will concretely demonstrate a business value in 24 months or less." Yes or no?

Let’s see what you think about a longer-term value. Is this something that will have a return if you give it a little bit more time to pay back the practices that you employ, the methods that you learn, and the certification that you hire, when you follow a framework, and when you use context properly. Will that payback in the near term -- a 24-month horizon?

Back to our panel. Let’s move into these newer areas like cloud computing and SOA. These are also under fire. We have heard the possibility of the death of SOA, if you actually say it's SOA, but perhaps it’s still valuable if you call it something else or pretend it’s not a strategic activity and keep it tactical.

Henry, SOA, in the context of good architecture -- why would SOA not be something powerful in today’s change-oriented, cost-conscious environment?

A concept, not a term

Peyret: I disagree with the idea that we should kill SOA. I've heard about that from some colleagues. If you read completely through the article, you see that the term should disappear. I don’t care if it disappears or not. It's a concept. In fact, for me SOA is mainly principles. Many of those principles are good and should continue to develop in fact.

SOA will go to another state, and we don’t care if it changes its name. The goal is to continue to adopt practices, which will help, and to continue to develop more flexible information systems.

Just to come back to one statement about SOA that was very good. We talked previously about value. The problem with value is that today we measure value mainly on productivity. It should be more productive on maintenance, more productive for development, and more productive for many other aspects.

The problem is that we should measure one more value -- particularly on quality -- and I fully agree with you on taking risk, such as adding bad technology at a bad time. We've seen that so many times, such as in adopting client-server.

There is probably another value of good SOA, which is agility. We should measure the way we can deliver faster -- being able to put in place a new application which is complex, embedding BPM, and things like that in less than three months. That’s a good point. We should measure that sort of approach.

That’s a new value that will help to justify EA. At the moment, with more and more governance and more and more committees, we're not bringing any more agility, which will be needed by the dynamic environment.

Gardner: Jane Varnus, from The Bank of Montreal, do you see SOA as something that’s necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition, where you have to have huge up-front capital expenditures and a long-term payback, or is there a crawl, walk, run process here where you can get incremental value?

Varnus: Certainly that’s the approach that has been taken, and it seems our business really depends more on other things. This is a facilitating technology, and we should do exactly as you say -- look at where it will bring value and where the opportunities are to use it for modernizing and making us more flexible. We're not likely to go at this in a "big bang" way.

Gardner: Let’s look at what our audience has to say about the impact of business value and good strategic-level IT architecture.

"Will practices concretely demonstrate a business value in 24 months or less?"

An overwhelming 88 percent says yes; we seem to agree that it’s going to take longer than a year, perhaps around two years, perhaps a little longer, and yet it seems a good investment. Two years to me doesn’t seem too long to ask, given the complexity and the size of the problems that we've inherited over the years and that we're still dealing with.

Let’s key up our next question, while we talk a little more about SOA. The question is: "SOA, as an enterprise IT-wide strategic initiative is dead, because ... ." This is a multiple choice, so feel free to punch any of these numbers:
  • 1) SOA is not dead, tactically or strategically.
  • 2) the business outcomes from holistic SOA are too small and hard to define.
  • 3) SOA is too complex and hard to do.
  • 4) SOA is too expensive and does not offer concrete return on investment.
  • 5) Existing architectures and approaches are good enough.
  • 6) Benefits of SOA can be better attained via Web-oriented architecture (WOA), or RESTful, or "webby" means instead.
We're asking you whether the end of SOA is a result of any of these factors more than the others, what’s the chief culprit, and/or is this whole business of SOA not continuing hogwash.

Let’s continue this discussion among us. Chris Forde, what's your perspective on the SOA payback issue? It seems to me that about a year ago in Texas, we were discussing how enterprise architecture and SOA might, in fact, become conjoined, that we wouldn’t necessarily distinguish SOA, but that it was good architecture. Do you agree with that, or should SOA these days be given a new lease on life?

Transforming the business

Forde: If SOA is aimed at transforming the business and EA is aimed at the same space, then there is a parallel. In some of the debate what we talk about is actually EA, IT architecture, and what we talk about as SOA is really a technical solution looking for a business problem?

So, it depends on a particular organization’s approach to these problems. Services orientation in your architectural approach and in your solution delivery is certainly practicable. Is it scalable across an enterprise, right off the bat? Unlikely.

Gardner: But as we saw with architecture in general, this is one- to two-year concrete demonstrable return.

Forde: I was hoping you would follow up on that point during the audience discussion. It would be interesting to delve into the drivers of what was behind everybody’s response on that two-year cycle. I speculate that the driver is that it can take you maybe three months to six months to carve up a strategic perspective on something.

When you start, if you are starting it at the beginning of your investment cycle for your business, you're in good shape. If you're not, you're going to be out of frame with the business investment cycle. So, the key to working into a 24-month cycle is the probability of the outcome, because you don’t necessarily get to choose when the business or IT wants to get engaged in some strategic activity.

If you've taken a reasonable approach in terms of the architectural assessment, what you have is a roadmap that can be chunked up after that to 12-month, 13-month, 15-month, 18-month, or 24-month increments for delivery. That’s really what the business and technologists are looking for, something that can be dealt with in bite-size choices. The 24-month thing is an interesting idea, but the drivers behind it are more interesting to me. I guess that's my point.

Gardner: Now, we're seeing some interesting results from our audience. They're overwhelmingly coming down on Number 1, that the death of SOA is hogwash. So, perhaps the notion of postponing such things as SOA or strategic architecture, or evaluating and deploying a framework rigorously doesn’t make sense.

It's not something you should postpone, regardless of the business cycle or the economy. That seems to be a takeaway. Do you agree with that, Henry?

Peyret: Despite the economic downturn -- and we don't know when that will end -- we predicted one or two years ago that we should see a new curve of adoption of new technologies, and we talked about dynamic business applications, business process management (BPM), and many other things like that.

Due to social computing and the fact that more people will add new types of collaboration onto Web, they will ask also for some more activity within the enterprise itself. The problem won't be to deliver more solutions in 18 months or 24 months. Perhaps for strategic types of solution, yes; but we should also look at the enterprise architecture level to deliver some solutions for two days, three days, or one week.

Sometimes, obviously, there will be a lot of limitations about quality, security, risk, scalability, and many others things. Our role as an enterprise architect is to allow that.

I know I'm a little bit provocative when I say that. That’s against the governance processes and many other things like that, but if we continue to have the same governance, we have a lot of committees. We did, in fact, because that was painful to establish. The governance process and committees will be fought.

We have seen some customers who fight their committees, just because the governance and committees weren't responsive enough. So, we should find a balance. I recognize that for the moment the downturn is against that balance, but we should see more agility for governance itself.

Gardner: So we have nothing to fear from enterprise architecture and SOA but fear itself? Tony?

Lag and inertia

Baer: I second Henry’s motion. What I think we have to fear is lag and inertia. That’s what we really have to fear.

One of the things I have actually been very cheered about with TOGAF 9 is that it's taken some important steps in the right direction, in terms of making the practice and the learning of enterprise architecture more accessible, and it's modularized things.

There was a discussion briefly at the end of your presentation this morning about, whether we could adapt this for smaller firms and could we implement this "lite." Allen Brown started mentioning that within The Open Group you're taking elements of TOGAF and applying it to a very moderate-size organization.

Those are important starts, but I think we need to do just as the software development world has, in certain areas, embraced Agile development. And, believe me, Agile is not the solution to everything. In the enterprise architecture space, we need to also take a look at what processes can be implemented lightly to take advantage of opportunities that may happen now, but that may totally change in a matter of weeks.

Move the clock back to the beginning of September. It looked like energy prices were still going through the roof. September 15, Lehman fails, and two weeks later, we start to see oil prices declining from $140 a barrel to $35 a barrel. Classic, long lead-time enterprise architecture processes that require two-year paybacks are just not going to make it in that type of scenario.

Gardner: Just to drill down a little bit more on our audience results, we had 63 percent saying that the SOA business is not dead, either tactically or strategically. The number one reason for those who were less optimistic was that, "Tthe business outcomes from holistic SOA are too small and they're hard to define."

That gets back to some of the comments we've heard today. What do we need to take to the business and the bean counters to get them to better understand the value, whether 12 months, 24 months, or at a crawl, walk, run basis? Is it compliance? Is that the rationale?

Is it security or the ability to get future-proofed, so when we do have an opportunity to exploit cloud services, we can do that readily with governance?

We need to give our enterprise architecture practitioners here a little ammunition that they can take back to their business leaders in order to get the buy-in. Everyone is still looking for an answer to that question.

So, we're going to go down our panel and get your best advice. Let us start with you Jane. What is your advice? What should the technologist tell the business leaders to make them better understand the value that we all seem to understand?

Varnus: This is an incredibly challenging question. The thing we can’t do is go back to the business and start talking technology to them. They're not interested in how we support them. What they're interested in is that we should, at a reasonable cost, be reasonably flexible, be absolutely reliable, and be creative. Lag is a big problem. We have to address their concern that we are a partner who is responsive.

So, my short advice is that we have to learn to talk to the business better in their terms, become more tuned in, translate whatever solution we have, and express it back in the terms of that problem. I don’t know what that problem would be in anyone else’s business, but don't mention SOA and don't mention the cloud.

Gardner: The architecture that should not be mentioned. Chris Forde, you mentioned earlier that business alignment is as much about business in business, than it is about business in IT. Is that part of the discussion that we should be having with them?

The right conversation

Forde: Yeah, it is, and it’s a relatively easy conversation to have, as long as the issue isn’t IT, because there are a lot of issues with the way IT operates. But in having a conversation about enterprise architecture and moving the business, I agree with Jane.

We don’t want to have the conversation about architecture. We want to have the conversation about what it is that’s going to make their business more effective. Some of those issues may be inter-business unit related, not specific to IT, and that’s a good conversation to have.

Gardner: Tony Baer, what’s the ammunition that we need to better reinforce the value of investing at the strategic IT architecture level?

Baer: I'd reinforce what Jane was saying. It’s showing consistent results and -- I don’t want to get hung up on the term rapid -- but let’s just say responsive results. It's showing that we're not going to fall into the usual trap of delivering late, over budget and under scope, that IT can be relied upon.

At the end of the day, that’s what enterprise architecture is all about. It's not about devising frameworks. It's about making your performance consistent, rational, and understandable.

Gardner: You are saying, I think, "under promise and over deliver," but is that possible?

Baer: I was saying that the problem that IT has had perennially is that we have over promised, we have under delivered, and we have overcharged. The whole idea of adopting more consistent practices is that hopefully you can avoid having to reinvent the wheel every time and stop making all those damn mistakes.

Gardner: Henry, are we also looking at a continuum here, where we are really only in the early decades of computing at this holistic level in these organizations? Isn’t there a need to look at some sort of Moore’s Law when it comes to IT, that prices will come down, but we have to invest, and that we haven’t gotten maturity yet and we shouldn’t give up.

Peyret: No, we haven't yet come to a maturity at that level, but there's a bigger problem. IT is suffering, and particularly the enterprise architect group, which is more transverse to some lines of business that are not complete today. This is particularly true in the bank industry, but there are some other industries that are also changing. I think that we're going to have a new organizational model. The matrix model is not dead. It's still living, unfortunately, and we're facing a big problem with that.

The problem is that the enterprise architect is trying to solve some of the organizational issues, which have not been solved. We're trying to solve some transverse problem at the enterprise architecture level, when it should have been solved at the business-unit level, by naming one business unit that has had some problems from beginning to end.

Because we have not named those business units to have that new model, which is a network organizational model, the EAs are struggling. A lot of the problem is making the right decision and finding the right owner.

What does that mean for us? That’s challenging for the moment. And, I fully agree. We're not transparent enough to explain to people who are struggling with their own problems that it's not an EA problem. At the same time, we are there to compensate for those problems.

That’s not easy, obviously, and that’s somewhere I have seen a lot of enterprise architect fight, just because they have faced that problem.

Gardner: It seems like there have always been several very good excuses to remain tactical and not get strategic with IT. We just happen to have a big economic excuse right now. But, the longer we postpone, the longer that we resist taking a top-down, holistic, well-thought out, methodological, and standardized perspective, the bigger the problem gets -- and the harder it is to move to that standardized level. Do you agree with that Janine?

Kemmeren: Yes, I do.

Gardner: Is there anything else that you'd offer in terms of how to keep the momentum moving toward strategic IT thinking and planning?

The language of business

Kemmeren: The key in this is not to focus only on technology, but in trying to talk the language of the business, and, in that way, try to get close to the business and understand the problems.

Gardner: What about the business understanding the IT problems?

Kemmeren: That’s a good one.

Gardner: Maybe we're not giving them enough information about what’s really going on in IT!

Kemmeren: I think maybe we're giving them too much information.

Gardner: But, not the right kind of information.

Kemmeren: In the wrong kind of way.

Gardner: What kind of information should we be giving them, Henry?

Peyret: We talk mainly about productivity and costs. When we talk about ROI and cost only, and not risk at the business level, then we lose something. The issue now is to talk more about agility, flexibility, and the capability to shorten the time to market and deliver new products.

During the last decade, we've seen a dramatic change that affected many businesses. It was the capability to take some invention brought by partners, by delivery channels, by new things like those, but assembling them only in terms of capability. We call that the innovation network, and we have seen that network at large, creating a lot of difficulties within different enterprises.

The banking industry, for example, is no longer delivering their own business only through their own internal systems. They're assembling many other external partners. That trend will continue and will grow.

The problem is more about describing those complexities, and it's not about the technology aspect, but more about some business that is booming. The new way to demonstrate value is to explain that we will be able now to make something faster in terms of time to market, time to design, and time to deliver. All of those things are what we call key agility indicators.

It's the flexibility aspect, again, but not the flexibility that every IT provider is talking about. Why? Because they are not defining what type of flexibility they are talking about. We need to specify a key agility indicator at a business level.

We need also to assess our process to say that perhaps we need to deliver that in three months. Unfortunately, our current process and systems are able to deliver that only in five months. How could we shorten that? How could we bring in new practices and new ways to do that, or perhaps a new technology?

Gardner: Tony, earlier you raised the issue of the maturation of manufacturing in the past 40 or 50 years, since World War II as an example of a trajectory for IT. Isn’t that a viable way to explain the difficulties -- that we need to do what you've done with your transportation systems, what you do with your facilities, what you've done with human resources and hiring? There’s been an emphasis on quality, process, and innovation.

Why wouldn’t it make sense to draw that into the IT department to get resources, buy-in, and more SOA?

Baer: I'll start with a very important qualification. We're talking about manufacturing, but we don’t want do what GM has done. What we can learn is the idea of lean, which the Japanese adapted from the doctrine of Juran and Deming, total quality control, lean manufacturing.

Do it right the first time


Gardner: It makes sense to do it right the first time.

Baer: Exactly. In other words, traditional manufacturing relied on rework. We'll just get it out there, and if we need to fix it, we'll just bring it back and fix it. As it turned out, it not only wastes time and money, when you have to fix something that’s already been built, it makes for a poorer quality product.

Gardner: Chris, before we go to the audience for questions, do you have anything to offer in terms of the right messaging, so that business better understands the challenges and requirements of the IT function, and also that the IT people can ascertain from the business side what’s going to be perceived as mission critical and readily backed?

Forde: One thing that's probably going to be useful is a degree of transparency into the IT function. When the business clearly understands what’s driving the quotes coming back to them, they're in a better position to determine what kind of investments they really need to make. In the course of developing that transparency, it causes IT to be more introspective about the way it operates.

There’s a certain set of conversations that needs to occur about how effective the IT operation actually is. This is also in context with other business units. We talk about IT as if it's separate from the business, when, in fact, it's a component of our business operation just like others. It has a certain level of importance and a relationship to certain types of technology, but it isn’t the be all and end all.

We just have to get into a better conversation with the business partners about what’s driving the behaviors in IT, and transparency is one way to do that.

Gardner: I'd like to ask our audience for questions. We've posed questions to you, and now it’s your turn. Raise your hand, and we will get a microphone to you shortly.

But I just wanted to take one last stab here. We need to transform business. We have a very dynamic global, economic environment. We're talking about transforming IT as a lever, as a mechanism to help transform the business. Perhaps we need to transform the dialog between business and IT in order to facilitate some of these other transformations. Henry?

Peyret: As a consequence of some business process orientation, also of the change of the organizational model, and to have a different discussion between IT and business, we'll need to contractualize better and faster between the different parties. I say contractualize, and I know that's probably not the right word about that, but we need to discuss contracts, including internally. The more we go to the next organizational model, the more we will be required to contractualize.

What does that mean? I really believe that it’s the next trend for application adoption, after CRM, ERP, supply chain management, and things like that. It will be about contract management at every level and everywhere. That requires us to develop a contract bus or contract exchange between the different aspects.

The problem with contractualization is that it's very close to the business. It's something that affects everything in the business, but it affects something that is key within each business. There is no a single contract management program out of the box or off the shelf, which will solve all those aspect.

But in that manner we'll be able to become more transparent to the different functions within the enterprise. We'll be able to assemble services very quickly. If we're able to contractualize and take the cost for every one of those contracts, we'll be able to negotiate and have more contracts to deliver from IT to different line of business requirements.

Gardner: This sounds like governance at a business level, but it cuts across all relationships.

Contracts -- the next step

Peyret: Absolutely -- internally and externally, and the external contracts will impact the internal contracts as well. That’s why we need to develop that contractualization all across the different groups. That’s just a next step for the client and customer supplier relationship that we've developed for a decade now. It's just the next step.

Gardner: Thank you very much. We're now happy to take some questions and even observations. If you have a statement that you want to debunk or if you want to reaffirm something, we'd be delighted to hear from you.

Christian Slate: Hi, my name is Christian Slate. I keep hearing people say they're searching for ways of explaining the benefits of enterprise architecture. I usually find that explaining the risks, exploiting the fear factor, the things that can go wrong if you don’t understand your architecture, don’t understand your business, pays off more. Any comments on that?

Gardner: That sounds like, if you think getting an education is expensive, try not getting one. Anybody want to respond?

Varnus: It’s a great idea. At the same time, if you're going to raise a specter of fear you have to know that you can address that and resolve it. That gets us back into the question of having a better understanding on both sides of who owns what. That’s partly coming back to the question of contracts. When you raise fear, you have to understand your capability to deliver as part of the whole organism.

Gardner: Thank you, Jane. Henry?

Peyret: That works very well for some verticals. When you're talking about finance, for example, obviously fear is key. I work for nuclear, and, believe me, that’s also a good point. For some other industries, where they don’t care, absolutely not. So, you have to take care about that approach.

That has some limitation for the time being. It’s more positive to talk about the flexibility aspect, rather than only fear. It's less pessimistic.

Gardner: Thank you. Yes, next question.

Charles Alexi: It’s Charles Alexi from Tonex. I have a question to the audience and maybe to everyone. What we have seen, as a consultant industry, is that the idea of EA is great. No one has any problem with alignment of the business and the IT. But the main issue is that the businesses are also transforming themselves. When we want to align the IT to the business, you need to make IT people become business people, and that’s what they don’t want.

I think the major issue will be really the culture, as you mentioned, and also the issue of a good methodology, because you have now to learn, as IT people, how the business process works. Any comments on that?

Gardner: I think you are saying we need to bring more crass commercialism into the thinking of the IT department.

Forde: There’s a certain degree of discipline that comes out of an IT organization about how to approach things in a certain fashion. Now, that may or may not be a good thing, from a business perspective, but where there’s a high degree of readiness in the IT organization to engage with the business partner, there may be not the same level of readiness on the business side and vice versa.

What I'm suggesting is that the IT folks need to improve their game, relative to understanding their business partners’ issues and context, and vice versa. I think that was the question Dana was asking earlier.

But where we are talking about architecture and change, from a business transformation perspective as well, the opportunity here for us, from an EA framework perspective, is to bring a discipline and a structure that can be transferred out of IT into the business. Now, whether the readiness is there or not on both sides is a different question, but it’s an opportunity for us.

Tom Graves: Hi, Tom Graves. I am really picking up a comment of Jane’s about IT and the focus on the business wanting reliability, rather than just cost cutting. One of the things I'm seeing is that if we become more aware of what the business is looking at, we shift from being a cost center to a profit center, to actually becoming an agility focus for the business.

Are you seeing this happening in your own environments, in your own business? As we become more engaged in the business, we become a partner rather than just simply a supplier, and a not very loved one at that.

Gardner: Alright, how do we become the enabler. Obviously a good question. Maybe too good.

Peyret: That particularly is the case currently in some verticals, where the IT is seen as participating in the innovation and changing the attitude of business. I've seen that in pharmaceuticals. I've seen that also in banks, in some of the banks where they see really the IT as helping the innovation.

Gardner: Well, obviously we know part of our challenge is how to convert ourselves into being perceived differently.

Well, I want to thank our panelists. We have been enjoying the insights of Tony Baer from Ovum; Janine Kemmeren of Getronics Consulting; Chris Forde, American Express; Jane Varnus of the Department of Architecture at the Bank of Montreal, and Henry Peyret of Forrester Research.

I also want to tell you that our conversation today comes to you through the support of The Open Group from the 21st Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference, here in San Diego. I'm Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for listening and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes and Podcast.com. Learn more. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Transcript of a podcast panel discussion on the role and future of enterprise architecture, recorded at The Open Group's 21st Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in San Diego. Special thanks to Paul van der Merwe and Louw Labuschagne of realIRM of South Africa for audience polling features. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2009. All rights reserved.

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