Showing posts with label ArchiMate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ArchiMate. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Open Group Marks 25 Years of Working Together to Make Successful Standards

Transcript of a discussion on the 25th anniversary of remarkable achievements in the global technology standards arena by The Open Group.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Way back in 1996, when web browsing was novel and central processing still ruled the roost of enterprise IT, The Open Group was formed from the merger of the Open Software Foundation and X/Open.

This October marks the 25th anniversary of remarkable achievements in the technology standards arena by The Open Group. Beginning with a focus as the publisher of the single UNIX specification technical standard and steward of the UNIX trademark, the organization has grown to more than 850 members in over 50 countries -- and it leads the field and technology standard services, certifications, research, and training.

Stay with us now as we explore how standards like UNIX and TOGAF evolved to transform business and society by impacting the world as a digital adoption wave swept over human affairs during the past quarter century.

Here to commemorate The Open Group’s achievements and reminisce about the game-changing, earth-shattering, and culture-evolving advances of standards-enabled IT, please welcome our guests. We’re here with Steve Nunn, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at The Open Group. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Nunn: Thank you, Dana. I’m glad to be here.

Gardner: We’re also here with David Lounsbury, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at The Open Group. Welcome, David.

David Lounsbury:
Thank you, Dana. I’m happy to be here, too.

Gardner: And we’re also here with Jim Hietala, Vice President Business Development and Security at The Open Group. Welcome, Jim.

Jim Hietala: Hi, Dana. I’m glad to be here.

Gardner: Great to have you all. Steve, even after 25 years of clearly breathtaking changes across the IT landscape, why is The Open Group’s original mission as salient as ever?

Nunn: In a nutshell, it’s because the world needs open standards. That has been our heritage -- open systems, open standards. We added conformance to open standards, importantly, along the way. And it’s never been more needed than it is now.


When we began, there was a crying need for more choice among customers and more interoperability among different software applications. The main proprietary vendors just weren’t necessarily delivering that choice. So, it’s really because customers need standards.

You know, they help suppliers, too. They help all of us in our day-to-day lives. That’s why we’re still needed at 25 years on -- and we’re looking forward to a bright next 25 years.

Gardner: David, sometimes you have to pull people kicking and screaming into standards. It’s like what your mom told you about eating spinach. It’s for your own good, right?

Lounsbury: Right.

Gardner: But we couldn’t get to the current levels and breadth of technology use without them.

Meeting the need for standards

Lounsbury: That’s right. And, you know, Steve mentioned the need for standards -- and the technology does drive the standards. At the time when we were founded, there were relatively few CPU manufacturers, and now there has been an explosion in compute power and a radical fall in the cost of networking, and that’s led to lots of new ways of doing business. People are looking for guidance on how to do that, how to restructure their organizations, and on which technology platforms they need to use. That need is fueling a swing back to seeking new standards.

Gardner: Jim Hietala, with your focus on security, 25 years ago we couldn’t have imagined the things we’re facing around security today. But without people pulling together, we wouldn’t be able to buttress our supply chains. How has security in particular been enabled by standards?

Hietala: It’s interesting to look back at the past because in the world of security today you hear about two predominant themes. One is zero trust, and if you look back at some of the work the Jericho Forum was doing inside of The Open Group 10 to 12 years ago, those were the origins of what we’re calling zero trust in the security industry today.


The whole notion of perimeter security was failing. We needed to move security controls closer to the data and to secure people’s access within what were previously considered secure networks. The Jericho Forum seeded that discussion a number of years ago.

The other big issue out there today is supply chain security, with some of the supply chain security attacks in the last 18 months. And here again an initiative inside of The Open Group that was formed some 10 years ago, the Open Trusted Technology Forum (OTTF), that was brought to us by the US government, was focused on addressing the security of the hardware and software for the components that go into the IT systems being procured.

And again, we’ve had some groundbreaking work inside of The Open Group on the topic of security that’s highly relevant today, even though the environment has changed tremendously in the last 25 years.

Gardner: Yes, as Steve mentioned, this is a long game. Sometimes it takes decades for the value of these efforts to become fully evident to all the players.

I’m old enough to remember there used to be quite a few UNIX® standards or variants. The process behind pulling them together for the benefit of everyone -- both the users and ultimately the vendors as well -- became a cookie cutter model for creating standards generally.

Steve, how did the evolution of UNIX standards in particular become opportunity to do much more?

Nunn: We converted what it meant to be a UNIX system, from being derived from a certain code base, to being based on a standard. The key is it wasn’t just one standard. It was a lot of standards. There were 1170 different specs that changed what it meant to be a UNIX system. It was then all about conformance with the standard and how the system operates in connection with the standard -- rather than derived from a particular code base.

It was gathering a set of standards together. Our history since then -- this idea of a standard of standards -- has evolved and developed to make standards approachable and useful for solving business problems.

Fundamentally, at The Open Group, all our work on standards starts with trying to solve a business problem. A set of standards makes solutions more applicable, more approachable, for implementation. And increasingly nowadays we add things like developing some code alongside it. That’s the essence of it. We were transforming the first kind of UNIX standard, the Spec-1170, set of standards.

Gardner: David, what a success UNIX has become since back when we thought this was going to be just a way for workstations to interoperate better on a network. It became the foundation for Linux, BSD, and for the MacOS. It went from workstations to servers and then dominated servers. It seems that there’s no better validation for the success and power of standards and what we’ve seen with UNIX over the past 25 years.


Lounsbury: Yes, no question about it. I come from the minicomputer revolution, where I started in my career, and basically that whole industry got run out of business by UNIX systems. And now we have it, as you said, on our laptops. I’m running it on my laptop right now. It’s on all our smaller systems. Embedded processes all tend to run a variant of things that look like the UNIX standard.

If you have to create something quickly, and you want to create something that’s robust and will run predictably, you pick something that follows the UNIX standard.

Gardner: And how did you get people to rally to such standards? There’s more to this than technology. This is also about a culture of cooperation. There is a human behavioral aspect to it.

How has The Open Group been able to pull so many different threads together and repeat this? You’ve been doing this as well for TOGAF, with enterprise architecture, with Open Agile, ArchiMate, FACE, and reference architectures like IT4IT, among many others.

What is behind this ability to govern so many factions into a common goal?

Staying power of neutrality

Lounsbury: There are a couple of dimensions to it, and Steve’s already mentioned one of them. He talked about the end-customers. We recognized the value of neutrality -- not only neutrality of technology, but also the other dimension of neutrality, which is the balance between the buy-side and the supply-side.

There are many things called standards activities that are really altered to one side or the other. We found the balanced viewpoint: balanced across the technologies, balanced across the demand, which is the essential key to having stable buy-in. Now, of course, that must be built on rock-solid processes that respect all the parties, all the way through. And that’s how our formal governance comes in.

Nunn: That’s right, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The magic happens when the customers drive this. They have things that need to be achieved through standards.

The process has been essentially stable -- evolved slightly over the years -- but it's a tried-and-tested process; a consensus process of one company, one vote. It's allowed us to create trust.

The second point David made is key, too. The process has been essentially stable -- evolved slightly over the years -- but it’s a tried-and-tested process; a consensus process of one company, one vote. It’s allowed us to create trust.

That’s the word I want to want to bring out here: trust in the process, trust in the equity of the process; that all parties get to have their say. That has essentially stood us in good stead. We’ve been able to apply that process, and that same approach in governance, across many different industries and business programs.

Gardner: I suppose another key word here, Jim, is cooperation. Because while The Open Group is a steward and has been involved with governance, there’s a tremendous army of people who contribute the things that they have learned and know and then bring to all this.

How important has it been to encourage that level of cooperation? It’s astonishing how many people are involved with these standards.

Hietala: It’s critical to have that cooperation, and the work, frankly, from the members. The Open Group brings the staff who help initiate standards initiatives and run them per our processes and our governance in a fair, open, and transparent way.

But it’s the members who bring the subject matter expertise in whatever area we’re talking about. In the case of The Open Group FACE Consortium, it’s the defense contractors and government folks administering some of the programs who bring subject matter expertise that helps us produce business guides, procurement guides, and the standards themselves, as well as the reference software.

We have a saying that joining a standards effort such as The Open Group is like joining a gym. You have to not just get the membership -- you have to show up and do the work, too.

Lounsbury: Both of Steve and Jim mentioned confidence. I think that the confidence we project in the process, both the formal governance and the ability to bring people together, is the real differentiator of why The Open Group has stood the test of time.

We see many examples of groups that get together and say, “Well, why don’t we just get together and solve this problem?” And what we often find is that they don’t because they lack stability. They can’t project stability. They don’t have the endurance. The government is a good example of where they then come back to The Open Group and say, “Hey, can you help us make this a sustainable activity that will have the impact over time that we need?”

Gardner: Another key word here then is journey, because you never get to the destination, which is actually a good thing. You must be self-sustaining. It has to be ongoing, the peeling back of the onion, the solving of one problem that perhaps creates others: and then again and again.

Is that never-ending part of the standards process also a strength, Steve?

Nunn: Yes, because around the world the various industries we work with don’t stand still. There’s a new problem coming up every day, as you alluded to, Dana, that needs solving.

When a group gets together to solve an initial problem through a standard, there's much more. ...The problems don't stand still, and technology evolves the world. Disruptive events happen, and we need to adjust and update the standards accordingly.

When a group gets together to solve an initial problem through a standard, they realize there’s much more there. I can think some recent examples, such as the Open Subsurface Data Universe (OSDU) Forum, which is in the oil and gas industry. They originally got together to focus on subsurface issues. And now they’re realizing that that a standards approach can help them in many other areas of their business as well.

The problems don’t stand still, and technology evolves the world. Disruptive events happen, and we need to adjust and update the standards accordingly.

Gardner: Is there a pattern to the standards you’ve chosen to foster? You obviously have been very successful with enterprise architecture and TOGAF. You’ve gone to modeling, security, and reference architectures for how IT organizations operate.

What’s the common denominator? Why these particular standards? Is there an order to it? Is there a logic to it?

One success leads to another

Nunn: The common denominator is something mentioned earlier, which is a business need. Is there a business problem to be solved, whatever industry that might be?

Over the years, The Open Group can trace one activity where a group of companies got together to solve a business problem and then it led to several other forums. The example we usually use is The Open Group Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Consortium in federal avionics. They recently celebrated their 10th anniversary.

That effort led directly to work in the sensor architecture space, and strangely led to our Open Process Automation Forum. Members saw the great work that was being done in the FACE Consortium, in terms of a modular method that creates an architected approach. The past saw a situation where one aircraft, for example, is funded completely separately, with no reuse of technology or parts, and where everything was done from scratch with one prime contractor and subs.

And we had some other members fortunately who saw from the oil industry how a set of industry standards had emerged. They said, “We have the same issues in our industries. We want a standardized approach, too.”

As a result, the Open Process Automation Forum is doing great work, transforming the way that systems are procured.

These successes form a traceable connection between an industry that has a problem to solve and the established best ways of doing it. They come together and work on it as an industry, and through tried-and-trusted processes, rather than trying to beat each other in the marketplace to the first magic solution.

Gardner: Jim, it sounds like the need for a standard almost presents itself to you. Is that fair?

Hietala: As an outsider, you might say, “What in the world do control systems users have in common with the military avionics industry?” But the takeaway is with each iteration of this new standards initiative our staff learned better how to support the formation and operation of a set of best practices around an operating standards initiative. The members learn as well. So, you had folks from Exxon Mobil at a conference speaking about how they transformed their industry, and the light bulb went off. Others brought the idea back from the oil and gas industry.

Then we at The Open Group helped them identify similar uses in some other industries: metals and mining, pulp and paper, utilities, water utilities, and pharmaceuticals – they all use the same set of control system equipment. They all had similar problems until we were able to bring it into a standards initiative. And once you have that sort of support behind an initiative, the suppliers don’t have a choice but to pay attention, get involved, and help drive the initiative themselves.

Gardner: David, it’s clear that just presenting a standard isn’t the only factor for success. You must support it with certifications, additional research, events, and forums that continuously bring people together in an atmosphere for collaboration and ongoing training. You’ve not only broadened the scope of what The Open Group does in terms of the standards, but also a wider set of functions that augment and support those standards.

Lounsbury: That’s right. Both Jim and Steve mentioned the process of discovery by the members, or by potential members, and the value of standards. That’s a critical component because the natural instinct is for people to go off and try to solve things on their own, or to get a magic bullet competitively.

The art of what we do is help members understand that only through collective action, only through wide agreement, is there going to be a sufficient response to solve the business problem.

But part of the art of what we do is help members understand that only through collective action, only through a wide agreement, is there going to be a sufficient response to solve the business problem and provide a center of gravity for the vendors to invest in building the systems that embrace and employ the standards.

And so, a part of building that continuing confidence is knowing that there will be trained people who know how to use the standard effectively. There will be systems that conform to the standard, and you can get together with peers in your industry to find out about what’s going on at the cutting edge of technology.

And, frankly, even the social networking, just meeting people face to face builds confidence that everybody is working toward the common objective. All of these things are critical supporting pieces that give people confidence to invest in solutions and the confidence to specify that when they purchase.

Gardner: It seems like a big part of the secret sauce here is mutual assured success for as many of the people in the ecosystem -- on all sides of the equation -- as possible. It sounds simple, but it’s really hard to do.

Nunn: It is, Dana. And you need champions, the people who are passionate about it in their own organizations.  

For me, the single biggest differentiator and reason for The Open Group’s success so far is that we have a very respected set of certification programs and processes. The importance of certification is that it gives standards some teeth. It gives them meaning. We’re not just publishing standards for the sake of it, and nobody uses them. They’re being used by trained people. There might also be certified products out there, too.

Certification helps turn it into an ecosystem, and that in turn gets people more engaged and seeking to evolve it and be part of the movement. Certification is key because of the teeth that it gives the standards.

Gardner: Well, the custom is when we have an anniversary to do toasts. Usually, toasts are anecdotal or remembrances. Are there any such moments in hindsight that ended up being formative and important over the past 25 years?

Cheers to 25 years of highlights

Nunn: For years, we had heard that UNIX was going away, that it’s not relevant anymore. I think the work we’ve done has proven that’s not the case.

Another highlight or breakthrough moment was when we got our TOGAF practitioner certification program up and running. That spread around the world to a large number of individuals who are certified and who are promoting the value of the standard itself.

We’ve created a community over the years, even though that community is harder to bring together right now in the pandemic days. But certainly, for the vast majority of our history, we have brought people together; these people are familiar with each other, and new people come in.

The face-to-face element is special. Somebody recently made a great point about the effect of the pandemic. And the point was that you need the personal interactions in developing standards. Standards are about contributing intellectual property, but also about compromise. It’s about discussing what’s best for the relevant industry. And that’s hard to achieve in a virtual world.

You need the dinners, the beers, whatever it might be to build the social networking and up the trust for the individuals in these situations who are often from competing companies. The way that we have encouraged the community and built up what we’ve often called “The Open Group family” over the years is a key factor for us.

Gardner: David, what are some anecdotes that come to mind that highlight the first 25 years?

Lounsbury: I’m going to pick up on Steve’s theme of face-to-face meetings. One that stands out in my mind was the first face-to-face FACE Consortium meeting, which was at a vendor building on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

And, I’ll be honest, there was a ton of skepticism, both from the government agencies and from some of the larger vendors, that this could ever possibly come together. And because we got the people together and we had a few enthusiastic champions -- not necessarily the people who started things out -- but the people who saw the value of cooperative industry engagement -- we got it together. And 60 companies walked out of that room saying, “Yeah, this might actually work.” And from then on -- that was over 10 years ago -- it changed the way avionics are produced. And now it has inspired changes in other industry verticals as well.

Because we got people together and we had a few enthusiastic champions we got it together. What we sometimes call The Open Group Way differentiates how we create standards. It has inspired changes in other industries as well.

So, what we sometimes call The Open Group Way differentiates how we create standards from what had gone on in other standards activities that they had been engaged in.

Gardner: Jim, what’s your toast to the past quarter-century?

Hietala: At little bit higher level, I point to the fact that The Open Group has grown to more than 850 member organizations from dozens of countries. The specific things that resonate with me and made an impact over the years are engaging with all those members from the many different countries and nationalities at events we’ve held.

That and to getting to over 120,000 TOGAF-certified people, which is a huge milestone and was definitely not an overnight success. TOGAF was tens of years in the making, so those to me are indicative of where we’ve come in 25 years.

Gardner: It seems that the Tower of Babel isn’t particularly high when it comes to information technology (IT). The technology is a common denominator that cuts across cultures and boundaries. There really is a common world stage for IT.

IT – The universal language

Hietala: I think that’s true. There’s probably work that goes on inside of standards organizations like The Open Group, that isn’t necessarily seen, that enables that. There’s a fair amount of work translating the products of The Open Group into various native languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese, French, or Spanish, or Chinese. Those often happen at the ground level by volunteers, typically from the countries that want to enable adoption of what they see as a highly valuable standard.

Lounsbury: The profusion of technology you mentioned has driven a fundamental change in the way people run their businesses. And The Open Group is very much at the forefront of thinking about how that’s best going to happen.

What does it mean to architect your business going forward when you have all of these new management techniques, all of this new technology that’s available at very low cost causing these fundamental shifts in how you interact with your customers and in your ecosystem? That’s currently on the forefront of the minds of many of the groups working inside The Open Group.

We all know there’s a new management book a day nowadays. That’s why there’s a growing demand for stability of guidance in this world. How to do these new digital ways of working? We look to standards bodies to come out with that guidance. Our members are working on it.

Gardner: I suppose the past is prologue. And back when I first got involved with enterprise IT in the late 1980s, this type of technology transformation was still fringe in business. But it’s become more than mainstream, it’s become dominant.

We talk about digital transformation. We could probably just drop digital, now it’s transformation, period. Given the depth, breadth, and importance of IT to business and society -- where do we go from here?

How do you take the success you’ve had for the past 25 years and extend that to an even grander stage?

Standards provide frame for future transformation

Nunn: As Dave said, organizations have to transform. They’re looking for structure. They’re looking for tools that help go through this transformation. It can’t happen soon enough. The pandemic has been an accelerator.

But they need a framework, and standards provide that framework. That doesn’t mean exactly the same approach for all standards. But I don’t think we need to fundamentally change the way standards are built.

We’ve talked about our legacy of trust and the tried-and-tested. We need to evolve how things are done as we go forward, to fit with the speed with which transformation needs to occur and the demands that individual organizations in their industries have.

But we definitely now have a very solid bedrock for evolving, and the transformation aspect of it is key because people see standards as helping them transform. Standards give them something to work with when so much all around is changing.

Gardner: Jim, how do you take the success you’ve had with digital standards and expand the use of the methodologies?

Hietala: We’ve seen that the practices, business model, and the approach to taking a big industry problem and solving it through the development of standards has been proven to work. Companies in need of those standards efforts are comfortable looking at The Open Group and saying, “You’re an honest broker to be in the middle of this and make something happen.”

For example, a member from our OSDU Forum looked at what was happening there and saw a similar need inside of his company. It happened to be in the energy industry, but he saw a problem around how to measure and manage their carbon footprint. They examined the approach used in the OSDU and said, “That’s what we need over here to determine what our carbon footprint is.”

Taking a big industry problem and solving it through the development of standards has been proven to work. Companies in need of those standards efforts are comfortable looking to The Open Group.

And what they found quickly in looking at that customer need was that that’s a universal need. It’s certainly not just an energy industry issue. Cement companies, large auto manufacturers, and many others all have that same need. They would all be well served by having a standard effort that produces not just standards but a reference software platform that they could build from that helps them measure and manage any carbon footprint. The approach has evolved a bit. We’re able to support now open-source initiatives alongside of standards initiatives. But fundamentally our consensus-oriented standard process has not changed.

And that’s the way we build these initiatives, rally industry support, and take them from looking at the customer business problem to producing standards and business guides. The way we address the issues hasn’t changed.

Gardner: David, if you can apply the lessons learned at The Open Group to even more challenging and impactful problems, that sounds worth doing. Is that part of your next 25 years?

Lounsbury: Yes, it certainly is. There’s a couple of dimensions to it. There’s the scale in number of people who are engaged. And we’ve given plenty of examples of how we went from a core standard like UNIX or IT4IT or TOGAF and applied those same proven techniques to things such as how you do avionics, which led to how to do process control systems, which led to how to do subsurface data. That has all led to a tremendous expansion in the number of organizations and people who are engaged with The Open Group.

The other dimension of scale is speed. And that is something where we need to keep our standards up to date, and that has evolved. For example, we’ve restructured our architecture portfolio to have more modular content. That’s something we’re going to be looking at across all of our core standards, including how we link them together and how we make them more cohesive.

We’re looking at reducing the friction in keeping standards up to date and improving the pace so they’re competitive with those one-off, two-people-writing-a-book kinds of guidance that characterizes our industry right now.

Gardner: For those who have been listening and are now interested in taking an active role in open standards, where can they go? Also, what’s coming next, Steve?

Nunn: Yes, we’ll have some anniversary celebrations. We have a great event in October. We’re doing a moving global event over a 24-hour period. So, a few hours hosted in each of several locations around the world where we have offices and staff and significant membership.

We also have an ever-growing number of active meetings in our groups. Most of them, because of the pandemic, have been virtual recently. But we’re starting to see, as I mentioned earlier, the eagerness for people to get together face-to-face again when, of course, it’s safe to do so and people feel comfortable to do so.

And we’ll be looking at not just what we’ve achieved but also looking at how we make the next steps. A big part of that relates to the work we’ve done with governments around the world. A good example is the government of India, which recently published a standard called IndEA, based on our TOGAF Enterprise Architecture standard.

It’s being used to fundamentally transform government services, not just in the national government of India, but in various states there. And then other countries are looking at that work. We also have work going on with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in healthcare and digital services for citizens.

We’re doing a lot of work with governments to make a real difference to people’s lives as citizens, in countries that may need to catch up with some of the more developed countries. They’re using our standards and the work groups we’ve put together to get up to speed.

For me, that’s an exciting part of our future: The difference we can make in people’s daily lives.

Gardner: And, of course, a lot of this information is on your website, Any other resources that people should be aware of?

Lounsbury: Yes, all our standards are free to download from our library on our website. You can obviously find how to register for events on the website, too. At the Forum level, there’s good information about each Forum that we’ve been working on. There’s always a contact form associated with each of the Forum webpages so you can leave your details and someone from our team will get in touch and tell you how to get involved.

I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on 25 years of remarkable achievements in the technology standards arena by The Open Group.

And we’ve learned how standards like UNIX and TOGAF evolved to transform business and society, impacting us all over the world as a digital adoption wave swept across human affairs. So, a big thank you to our panel. We’ve been here with Steve Nunn, Chief Executive officer at The Open Group. Thank you so much, Steve.

Nunn: Thank you very much, Dana. It’s been a great discussion.

Gardner:  And we’ve been joined by David Lounsbury, Chief Digital Officer at the Open Group. Thank you, sir.

Lounsbury: You’re welcome, Dana.

Gardner: And lastly, Jim Hietala has been with us. He’s vice President Business Development and Security at The Open Group. Thank you, Jim.

Hietala: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect commemoration of technology standards successes discussion.

I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Your host throughout the series of BriefingsDirect discussions sponsored by The Open Group.

Thanks again for listening, please pass this along with your business community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Transcript of a discussion on the 25th anniversary of remarkable achievements in the global technology standards arena by The Open Group. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC and The Open Group, 2005-2021. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Path to a Digital-First Enterprise is Paved with an Emergence Model and Digital Transformation Playbook

Transcript of a discussion on how open standards help support a playbook approach for organizations to improve and accelerate their digital transformation.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Our next digital business optimization discussion explores how open standards help support a playbook approach for organizations to improve and accelerate their digital transformation.


As companies chart a critical journey to become digital-first enterprises, they need new forms of structure to make rapid adaptation a regular recurring core competency. Stay with us now as we explore how standards, resources, and playbooks around digital best practices can guide organizations through unprecedented challenges -- and allow them to emerge even stronger as a result.

Here to explain how to architect for ongoing disruptive innovation is our panel. Please join me in welcoming Jim Doss, Managing Director at IT Management and Governance, LLC, and Vice Chair of the Digital Practitioner Work Group (DPWG) at The Open Group. Welcome, Jim.

Jim Doss: Good morning.

Gardner: We’re also here with Mike Fulton, Associate Vice President of Technology Strategy and Innovation at Nationwide and Academic Director of Digital Education at The Ohio State University. Welcome back, Mike.

Mike Fulton: Great to be here, Dana.

We’re also here with Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer at The Open Group. Good to have you with us, Dave.

Dave Lounsbury: Good morning, Dana.

Gardner: Dave, the pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic response has focused a large, 40-year gathering of knowledge into a new digitization need. What is that new digitization need, and why are standards a crucial part of it?

Pandemic survival is digital

Lounsbury: It’s not just digitization, but also the need to move to digital. That’s what we’re seeing here. The sad fact of this terrible pandemic is that it has forced us all to live a more no-contact, touch-free, and virtual life.

We’ve all experienced having to be on Zoom, or not going into work, or even when you’re out doing take-out at a restaurant. You don’t sign a piece of paper anymore; you scan something on your phone, and all of that is based on having the skills and the business processes to actually deliver some part of your business’s value digitally.

This was always an evolution, and we’ve been working on it for years. But now, this pandemic has forced us to face the reality that you have to adopt digital in order to survive. And there’s a lot of evidence for that. I can cite McKinsey studies where the companies that realized this early and pivoted to digital delivery are reaping the business benefits. And, of course, that means you have to have both the technology, the digitization part, but also embrace the idea that you have to conduct some part of your business, or deliver your value, digitally. This has now become crystal clear in the focus of everyone’s mind.

Gardner: And what is the value in adopting standards? How do they help organizations from going off the rails or succumbing to complexity and chaos?

Lounsbury: There’s classically been a split between information technology (IT) in an organization and the people who are in the business. And, something I picked up at one of the Center for Information Research meetings was, the minute an IT person talks about “the business” you’ve gone off the rails.

If you’re going to deliver your business value digitally -- even if it’s something simple like contactless payments or an integrated take-out order system -- that knowledge might have been previously in an IT shop or something that you outsourced. Now it has to be in the line of business.

There has to be some awareness of these digital fundamentals at almost all levels of the business. And, of course, to do that quickly, people need a structure and a guidebook for what digital skills they need at different points of their organizational evolution. And that is where standards, complemented by education and training, play a big role.

Fulton: I want to hit on this idea of digitization versus digital. Dave made that point and I think it’s a good one. But in the context of the pandemic, it’s incredibly critical that we understand the value that digitization brings -- as well as the value that digital brings.

When we talk about digitization, typically what we’re talking about is the application of technology inside of a company to drive productivity and improve the operating model of the company. In the context of the pandemic, that value becomes much more important. Driving internal productivity is absolutely critical.

We’re seeing that here at Nationwide. We are taking steps to apply digitization internally to increase the productivity of our organization and help us drive the cost down of the insurance that we provide to our customers very specifically. This is in response to the adjustment in the value equation in the context of the pandemic.

But then, the digital context is more about looking externally. Digital in this context is applying those technologies to the customer experience and to the business model. And that’s where the contact list, as Dave was talking about, is so critically important.

There are so many ways now to interact with our customers, and in ways that don’t involve human beings. How to get things done in this pandemic, or to involve human beings in a different way -- in a digital fashion -- that’s where both digitization and digital are so critically important in this current context.

Gardner: Jim Doss, as organizations face a survival-of-the-fittest environment, how do we keep this a business transformation with technology pieces -- and not the other way around?

Project management to product journey

Doss: The days of architecting IT and the business separately, or as a pure cascade or top-down thing; those days are going. Instead of those “inside-out” approaches, “outside-in” architectural thinking now keenly focuses on customer experiences and the value streams aligned to those experiences. Agile Architecture promotes enterprise segmentation to facilitate concurrent development and architecture refactoring, guided by architectural guardrails, a kind of lightweight governance structure that facilitates interoperability and keeps people from straying into dangerous territory.

If you read books like Team Topologies, The Open Group Digital Practitioner Body of Knowledge™️ (DPBoK), and Open Agile Architecture™️ Standards, they are designed for team cognitive load, whether they are IT teams or business teams. And doing things like the Inverse Conway Maneuver segments the organization into teams that deliver a product, a product feature, a journey, or a sub-journey.

Those are some really huge trends and the project-to-product shift is going on in business and IT. These trends have been going on for a few years. But when it comes to undoing 30 or 40 years of project management mentality in IT -- we’re still at the beginning of the project-to-product shift. It’s massive. 

To summarize what David was saying, the business can no longer outsource digital transformation. As matter of fact, by definition, you can’t outsource digital transformation to IT anymore. This is a joint-effort going forward.

Gardner: Dave, as we’re further defining digital transformation, this goes beyond just improving IT operations and systems optimization. Isn’t digital transformation also about redefining their total value proposition?

Lounsbury: Yes, that’s a very good point. We may have brushed over this point, but when we say and use the word digital, at The Open Group we really mean a change in the mindset of how you deliver your business.

This is not something that the technology team does. It’s a reorientation of your business focus and how you think about your interactions with the customer, as well as how you deliver value to the customer. How do you give them more ways of interacting with you? How do you give them more ways of personalizing their experience and doing what they want to do?

This goes very deep into the organization, to how you think about your value chains, in business model leverage, and things like that.

One of the things we see a lot of is people thinking about is trying to do old processes faster. We have been doing that incremental improvement and efficiency forever and applying machines to do part of the value-delivery job. But the essential decision now is thinking about the customers’ view as being primarily a digital interaction, and to give them customization, web access, and let them do the whole value chain in digital. That goes right to the top of the company and to how structure your business model or value delivery.

Balanced structure for flexibility

Gardner: Mike Fulton, more structure comes with great value in that you can manage complexity and keep things from going off of the rails. But some people think that too much structure slows you down. How do you reach the right balance? And does that balance vary from company to company, or there are general rules about finding that Nirvana between enough structure and too little?

Fulton: If we want to provide flexibility and speed, we have to move away from rules and start thinking more about guardrails, guidelines, and about driving things from a principled perspective.

That’s one of the biggest shifts we’re seeing in the digital space related to enterprise architecture (EA). Whereas, historically, architecture played a directional, governance role, what we’re seeing now is that architecture in a digital context provides guardrails for development teams to work within. And that way, it provides more room for flexibility and for choice at the lower levels of an organization as you’re building out your new digital products.

Historically, architecture played a directional, governance role. Now architecture in a digital context provides guardrails for development teams to work within. It provides more room for flexibility and for choice at the lower levels of an organization as you're building out your new digital products.
Those digital products still need to work in the context of a broader EA, and an architecture that’s been developed leveraging potentially new techniques, like what’s coming out of The Open Group with the Open Agile Architecture standard. That’s new, different, and critically important for thinking about architecture in a different way. But, I think, that’s where we provide flexibility -- through the creation of guardrails.

Doss: The days are over for “Ivory Tower” EA – the top-down, highly centralized EA. Today, EA is responding to right-to-left and outside-in versus inside-out pressures. It has to be more about responding, as Mike said, to the customer-centric needs using market data, customer data, and continuous feedback.

EA is really different now. It responds to product needs, market needs, and all of the domain-driven design and other things that go along with that.

Lounsbury: Sometimes we use the term agile, and it’s almost like a religious term. But agile essentially means you’re structured to respond to changes quickly and you learn from your mistakes through repeatedly refining your concepts. That’s actually a key part of what’s in the Open Agile Architecture Standard that Mike referred to.

The reason for this is fundamental to why people need to worry about digital right now. With digital, your customer interface is no longer your fancy storefront. It’s that black mirror on your phone, right? You have exactly the same six-by-two-and-a-half-inch screen that everybody else has to get your message across.

And so, the side effect of that, is that the customer has much more power to select among competitors than they did in the past. There’s been plenty of evidence that customers will pick convenience or safety over brand loyalty in a heartbeat these days.

Internally that means as a business that you have to have your team structured so they can quickly respond to the marketplace, and not have to go all the way up the management chain for some big decision and then bring it all way back down again. You’ll be out-competed if you do it that way. There is a hyper-acceleration to “survival of the fittest” in business and IT; this has been called the Red Queen effect.

That’s why it’s essential to have agile not as a religion, but as the organizational agility to respond to outside-in customer pressures as a competitive factor in how you run your business. And, of course, that then pulls along the need to be agile in your business practices and in how you empower your agile teams. How do you give them the guardrails? How do you give them the infrastructure they need to succeed at all of those things?

It’s almost as if the pyramid has been turned on its head. It’s not a pyramid that comes down from the top of some high-level business decisions, but the pyramid grows backward from a point of interaction with the customers.

Gardner: Before we drill down on how to attain that organizational agility, let’s dwell on the challenges. What’s holding up organizations from attaining digital transformation now that they face an existential need for it?

Digital delivers agile advantage

Doss: We see a lot of companies try to bring in digital technologies but really aren’t employing the needed digital practices to bring the fuller intended value, so there’s a cultural lag. 

The digital technologies are often used in combination and mashed up in amazing ways to bring out new products and business models. But you need digital practices along with those digital technologies. There’s a growing body of evidence that the difference between companies that actually get that are not just outperforming their industry peers by percentages -- it’s almost exponential.

The findings from the “State of DevOps” Reports for the last few years gives us clear evidence on this. Product teams are really driving a lot of the work and functionality across the silos, and increasingly into operations.

And this is why the standards and bodies knowledge are so important -- because you need these ideas. With The Open Group DPBoK, we’ve woven all of this together in one Emergence Model and kept these digital practices connected. That’s the “P” in DPBoK, the practitioner. It’s those digital practices that bring in the value.

Fulton: Jim makes a great point here. But in my context with Digital Executive Education at Ohio State, when we look at that journey to a digital enterprise we think of it in three parts: The vision, the transformation, and the execution.

You have to be able to envision, as a leadership team of an organization, what a digital enterprise looks like. What is your blueprint for that digital enterprise? Once you have aligned that blueprint with your leadership team, you have to lead that digital transformation journey.
The piece that Jim was just talking about talks to execution. Once you’re in a digital enterprise, how do you have the right capabilities and practices to create new digital products day to day?  And that’s absolutely critical.

But you also have to set the vision upfront. You have to be able to envision, as a leadership team of an organization, what a digital enterprise looks like. What is your blueprint for that digital enterprise? And so, you have to be able to figure that out. Then, once you have aligned that blueprint with your leadership team, you have to lead that digital transformation journey.

And that transformation takes you from the vision to the execution. And that’s what I really love about The Open Group and the new direction around an open digital portfolio, the portfolio digital standards that work together in concert to take you across that entire journey. 

These are the standards help you envision the future. Standards that help you drive that digital transformation like the Open Agile Architecture Standard. Standards that help you with digital delivery such as IT4IT. A critically important part of this journey is rethinking your digital delivery because the vast majority of products that companies produce today are digital products.

But then, how do you actually deliver the capabilities and practices, and uplift the organization with the new skills to function in this digital enterprise once you get there? And you can’t wait. You have to bring people along that journey from the very start. The entire organization needs to think differently, and it needs to act differently, once you become a digital enterprise.

Lounsbury: Right. And that’s an important point, Mike, and one that’s come out of the digital thinking going on at The Open Group. A part of the digital portfolio is understanding the difference between “what a company is” and “what a company does” -- that vision that you talked about – and then how we operate to deliver on that vision.

Dana, you began this with a question about the barriers and what’s slowing progress down. Those things used to be vertically aligned. What the business is and does used to be decomposed through some top-down, reductionist, refactor or delegate, decompose and delegate of all of the responsibilities. And if everybody does their job at the edge, then the vision will be realized. That’s not true anymore because of the outside-in digital reality.

A big part of the challenge for most organizations is the old idea that, “Well, if we do that all faster, we’ll somehow be able to compete.” That is gone, right? That fundamental change and challenge for top- and middle-management is, “How do we make the transition to the structure that matches the new competitive environment of outside-in?”

“What does it mean to empower our team? What is the culture we need in our company to actually have a productive team at the edge?” Things like, “Are you escalating every decision up to a higher level of management?” You just don’t have time for that anymore.

Are people free to choose the tools and interfaces with the customers that they believe will maximize the customer experience? And if it doesn’t work out, how do you move on to the next step without being punished for the failure of your experiment? If it reflects negatively on you, that’s going to inhibit your ability to respond, too.

All of these techniques, all of these digital ways of working, to use Jim’s term, have to be brought into the organization. And, as Mike said, that’s where the power of standards comes in. That’s where the playbooks that The Open Group has created in the DPBoK Standard, the Open Agile Architecture Standard, and the IT4IT Reference Architecture actually give you the guidance on how to do that.

Part of the Emergence Model is knowing when to do what, at the right stage in your organization’s growth or transformation.

Gardner: And leading up to the Emergence Model, we’ve been talking about standards and playbooks. But what is a “playbook” when it comes to standards?  And why is The Open Group ahead of the curve to extend the value when you have multiple open standards and playbooks?

Teams need playbook to win

Lounsbury: I’ll be honest, Dana, The Open Group is at a very exciting time. We’re in a bit of a transition. When there was a clear division between IT and business, there were different standards and different bodies of knowledge for how you adapt to each of those. A big part of the role of the enterprise architect was in bridging those two worlds.

The world has changed, and The Open Group is in the process of adapting to that. We’re looking to build on the robust and proven standards and build those into a much more coherent and unified digital playbook, where there is easy discoverability and navigability between the different standards.

People today want to have quick access. They want to say, “Oh, what does it mean to have an agile team? What does it mean to have an outside-in mindset?” They want to quickly discover that and then drill in deeper. And that’s what we pioneered with the DPBoK, with the architecture of the document called the Emergence Model, and that’s been picked up by other standards of The Open Group. It’s clearly the direction we need to do more in.

Gardner: Mike, why are multiple standards acting in concert good?

Fulton: For me, when I think about why you need multiple standards, it’s because if you were to try to create a single standard that covered everything, that standard would become incomprehensible.

If you want an industry standard, you need to bring the right subject matter experts together, the best of the best, the right thought leaders -- and that’s what The Open Group does. It brings thought leaders from across the world together to talk about specific topics to develop the best information that we have as an industry and to put that into our standards.

The Open Group, with the digital portfolio, is intentionally bringing the standards together to make sure that the standards align. That brings the standards together to make sure we're thinking about big, broad concepts in the same way and then dig down into the details with the right subject matter experts.
But it’s a rare bird, indeed, that can do that across multiple parts of an organization, or multiple capabilities, or multiple practices. And so by building these standards up individually, it allows us to tap into the right subject matter experts, the right passions, and the right areas of expertise.

But then, what The Open Group is now doing with the digital portfolio is intentionally bringing those standards together to make sure that the standards align. It brings the standards together to make sure that they have the same messaging, that we’re all working on the same definitions, and that we’re all thinking about big, broad concepts together in the same way and then allow us to dig down into the details with the right subject matter experts at the level of granularity needed to provide the appropriate levels of benefits for industry.

Gardner: And how does the Emergence Model help harmonize multiple standards, particularly around the Digital Practitioner’s Workgroup?

Emergence Model scales

Lounsbury: We talked about outside-in, and there are a couple of ways you can approach how you organize such a topic. As Mike just said, there’s a lot of detail that you need to understand to fully grasp it.

But you don’t always have to fully grasp everything at the start. And there are different ways you can look at organizations. You can look at the typical stack, decomposition, and the top-down view. You can look at lifecycles, that when you start at the left and you go to the right, what are all the steps in-between?

And the third dimension, which we’re picking up on inside The Open Group, is the concept of scale through the Emergence Model. And that’s what we’ve tried to do, particularly in the DPBoK Standard. It’s the best example we have right now. And that approach is coming into other parts of our standards. The idea comes out of lean startup thinking, which comes out of lean manufacturing.

When you’re a startup, or starting a new initiative, there are a few critical things you have to know. What is your concept of digital value? What do you need to deliver that value? Things like that.

Then you ideally succeed and grow and then, “Wow, I need more people.” So now you have a team. Well, that brings in the idea of, “What does team management mean? What do I have to do to make a team productive? What infrastructure does it need?”

And then, with that, the success goes on because of the steps you’ve taken from the beginning. As you get into more complexity, you get into multiple teams, which brings in budgeting. You soon have large-scale enterprises, which means you have all sorts of compliance, accounting, and auditing. These things go on and on.

But you don’t know those things at the start. You do have to know them at the end. What you need to know at the start is that you have a map as to how to get there. And that’s the architecture, and the process to that is what we call the Emergence Model.

It is how you map to scale. And I should say, people think of this quite often in terms of, “Oh it’s just for a startup. I’m not a startup, I’m in a big company.” But many big companies -- Mike, I think you’ve had some experience with this – have many internal innovation centers. You do entrepreneurial funding for a small group of people and, depending on their success, feed them more resources.

So you have the need for an Emergence Model even inside of big companies. And, by the way, there are many use cases for using a pattern for success in how to do digital transformation. Don’t start from the top-down; start with some experiments and grow from the inside-out.

Doss: I refer to that as downscale digital piloting. You may be a massive enterprise, but if you’re going to adapt and adopt new business models, like your competitors and smaller innovators who are in your space, you need to think more like them.

Though I’m in a huge enterprise, I’m going to start some smaller initiatives and fence them off from governance and other things that slow those teams down. I’m going to bring in only lean aspects for those initiatives.

You may be a massive enterprise, but if you're going to adapt and adopt new business models, like your competitors and smaller innovators, you need to think more like them. In a huge enterprise, you need to start some smaller initiatives and fence them off from the governance that could slow them down and bring in lean aspects.
And then, you amplify what works and scale that to the enterprise. As David said, you have the smaller organizations that have a great guidebook now for what’s right around the corner. They’re growing now, they don’t have just one product anymore, they have two or three products and so the original product owner can’t be in every product meeting.

So, all of those things are happening as a company grows and the DPBoK and Emergence Model is great for, “Hey, this is what’s around the corner.”

With a lot of other frameworks, you’d have to spend a lot of time extracting for scale-specific guidance on digital practices. So, you’d have to extract all that scale-specific stuff and it’s a lot of work, to be honest, and it’s hard to get right. So, in the DPBoK, we built the guidance so it’s much easier to move in either direction -- going up- and down-scale digital piloting as well.

Gardner: Mike, you’re on the pointy end of this, I think, in one of your jobs.

Intentional innovation

Fulton: Yes, at Nationwide, in our technology innovation team, we are doing exactly what Dave and Jim have described. We create new digital products for the organization and we leverage a combination of lean startup methodologies, agile methodologies, and the Emergence Model from The Open Group DPBoK to help us think about what we need at different points in time in that lifecycle of a digital product.

And that’s been really effective for us as we have brought new products to market. I shared the full story at The Open Group presentation about six months ago. But it is something that I believe is a really valuable tool for big enterprises trying to innovate. It helps you think about being very intentional about what are you using. What capabilities and components are you using that are lean versus more robust? What capabilities are you using that are implicit versus explicit, and what point in time do you actually need to start writing things down?

At what point in time do you absolutely need to start leveraging those slightly bigger, more robust enterprise processes to be able to effectively bring a digital product to market versus using processes that might be more appropriate in a startup world? And I found the DPBoK to be incredibly helpful and instructive as we went through that process at Nationwide. 

Gardner: Are there any other examples of what’s working, perhaps even in the public sector? This is not just for private sector corporations. A lot of organizations of all stripes are trying to align, become more agile, more digital, and be more responsive to their end-users through digital channels. Any examples of what is working when it comes to the Emergence Model, rapid digitization, and leveraging of multiple standards appropriately?

Good governance digitally

Doss: We’re really still in the early days with digital in the US federal government. I do a lot of work in the federal space, and I’ve done a lot of commercial work as well.

They’re still struggling in the federal space with the project-to-product shift.

There is still a huge focus on the legacy project management mentality. When you think about the legacy definition of a deliverable, the project is done at the deliverable. So, that supports “throw it over the wall and run the other way.”

Various forms of the plan-build-operate (PBO) IT organization structure still dominate in the federal space. Orgs that are PBO-aligned tend to push work from left to right across the P, B & O silos, and the space between these siloes are heavily stage-gated. So, this inside-out thinking and the stage-gating also supports “throw it over the wall and run the other way.” In the federal space, waterfall is baked into nearly everything.

These are two huge digital anti-patterns that the federal space is really struggling with.

Product management, for example, employs a single persistent team that remains with the work across the lifecycle and ties together those dysfunctional silos. Such “full product lifecycle teams” eliminate a lot of the communication and hand-off problems associated with such legacy structures.

The other problem in the federal space with the PBO IT org structure is that the real power resides in these silos and these silos’ management focus is downward into their silo….not as much across the silos; so there are a lot of cross functional initiatives such as EA, service ownership, product ownership or digital initiative that might get some traction for a while but such initiatives of functions have no real buying power or “go/no-go” decision authority so they get squashed eventually by the silo heads, where the real power resides in such organizations.

In the US, I look over time for Congressional, via new laws or Office of Management and Budget (OMB) via policy, to bring in some needed changes and governance about how IT orgs get structured and governed.

Ironically, these two digital anti-patterns also lead to the creation of lots of over-baked governance over decades to try to assure that the intended value was still captured, which is like chasing more bad money after that other bad money.

This is not just true in federal this is also true in the commercial world. Such over-baked governance just happens to be really, really bad in the federal space.

For federal IT, you have laws like Clinger-Cohen, Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), policies and required checks by the OMB, Capital Planning and Investment control, Acquisition Regulations, DoD Architecture Framework, and I could go on -- all which require tons of artifacts and evidence of sound decision making.

The problem is nobody is rationalizing these together… like figuring out what supersedes what when something new comes out. So, the governance just gets more and more un-lean, over-bloated and what you have at the end is agencies are either misguided by out-of-date guidance or overburdened by over-bloated governance.

Fulton: I don’t have nearly the level of depth in the government space that Jim does, but I do have a couple examples I want to point people to if they are trying to look for more government-related examples. I point you to a couple here in Ohio, both Doug McCollough and his work with the City of Dublin in Ohio. He’s done a lot of work with digital technologies; digital transformation at the city level.

And then again here in Ohio – and I’m just using Ohio references because I live in Ohio and I know a little bit more intimately what some of these folks are doing -- Ervan Rodgers, CEO of the State of Ohio, has done a really nice job of focusing on digital capabilities and practices to build up across state employees.

The third I’ll point to is the work going on in India. There’s been a tremendous amount of really great work in India related to government, architecture, and getting to the digital transformation conversation at the government level. So, if folks are interested in more examples, more stories, I’d recommend you look into those three as places to start.

Lounsbury: The thing, I think, you’re referring to there, Mike, is the IndEA India Enterprise Architecture initiative and the pivot to digital that several of the Indian provinces are making. We can certainly talk about that more on a different podcast.

Transformation is almost always driven by a Darwinian force. Something has changed in your environment that causes you to evolve, and we've seen that in the federal and defense sectors in things like avionics where the cost of software is unaffordable. They then turned to modular, decomposable systems based on standards just to stay in business.
I will toss in one ray of light to what Jim said. Transformation is almost always driven by an almost Darwinian force. There’s something changed in your environment that causes you to evolve and we’ve seen that in the federal sector and the defense sector in particular where things like in avionics, the cost of software is becoming unaffordable. They turned to modular, decomposable systems based on standards in order to achieve the necessary cost savings to just stay in business.

Similarly, in India, the utter need to deliver to a very diverse, large rural population, and grow that needed digitization. And certainly, the U.S. federal sector and the defense sector are very aware of the disparity. And I think, things like, the defense budget changes or changes in mission will drive some of these changes that we’ve talked about that are driven by the pandemic urgently in the commercial sector.

So, it will happen, but it is, I’ll agree with Jim, probably the most challenging ultimate top-down environment that you could possibly imagine doing a transformation.

Gardner: In closing, what’s coming next from The Open Group, particularly around digital practitioner resources? How can organizations best exploit these resources?

Harmony on the horizon

Lounsbury: We’ve talked about the evolution The Open Group is going through, about the digital portfolio and the digital playbooks having all of our standards speak common language and working together.

A first step in that is to develop a set of principles by which we’re going to do that evolution and the documents is called, Principles for Open Digital Standards. You can get that from The Open Group bookstore and if you want to find it quickly, you go to The Open Group’s The Digital-First Enterprise page that links to all of these standards.

Looking forward, there are activities going on in all of the forums of The Open Group and the forums are voluntary organizations. But certainly, the IT4IT Forum, the Digital Practitioner Workgroup, in these large swaths of our architecture activity they are working on how we can harmonize the language and bring common knowledge to our standards.

And then, to look beyond that, I think we need to address the problems of discoverability and navigability that I mentioned earlier to give that coherent and an easy-to-access picture of where a person can find out what they need when they need it.

Fulton: Dave, I think probably one of the most important pieces of work that will be delivered soon by The Open Group is putting a stake in the ground around what it means to be a digital product. And that’s something that I don’t think we’ve seen anywhere else in the industry. I think it will really move the ball forward and be a unifying document for the entire open digital portfolio.

And so, we have some great work that’s already gone on in the DPBoK and the Open Agile Architecture standard, but I think that digital product will be a rallying cry that will make all of the standards even more cohesive going forward.

Doss: And I’ll just add my final two cents here. I think a lot of it, Dana, is just awareness. People need to just understand that there’s a DPBoK Standard out there for digital practitioners.

If you’re in IT, you’re not just an IT practitioner anymore, you’re using digital technology and digital practices to bring lean, user-centric value to your business or mission. So, digital is the new best practice. So, there’s a framework in a body of knowledge out there now that supports and helps people transform in their careers. The same thing with Agile Architecture. And so it’s just the awareness that these things are out there.

The most powerful thing to me is, both of these works that I just mentioned have more than 500 references from most of the last 10 years of leading digital thinkers. So, again, the way these are structured, the way these are built, bringing in just the scale-specific guidance and that sort of stuff is hugely powerful. There needs to be an increasing awareness that this stuff is out there.

Lounsbury: And if I can pick up on that awareness point, I do want to mention, as always, The Open Group publishes the standards as freely available to all. You can go to that digital enterprise page or The Open Group Library to find these. We also have an active training ecosystem that you can find these days. Everybody does that digital training. 

There are ways of learning the standards in depth and getting certified that you’re proficient in the knowledge of that. But I also should mention, we have at least two U.S. universities and more interest on the international sector for graduate work in executive-level education. And Mike has mentioned his executive teaching at Ohio State, and there are others as well.

Gardner: Right, and many of these resources are available at The Open Group website. There are also many events, many of them now virtual, as well as certification processes and resources. There’s always something new, it’s a very active place.

I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on how open standards help organizations improve and accelerate their digital transformation. And we’ve learned how a playbook approach around digital best practices is guiding organizations through unprecedented challenges to emerge even stronger.

So, a big thank you to our panel, Jim Doss, Managing Director at IT Management and Governance, LLC, and Vice Chair of the Digital Practitioner Workgroup at The Open Group. Thank you so much, Jim.

Doss: Thanks for having me.

Gardner: We’ve also been here with Michael Fulton, Associate Vice President of Technology Strategy and Innovation at Nationwide and Academic Director of Digital Education at The Ohio State University. Thank you so much, Mike.

Fulton: Thanks, Dana. It’s been a pleasure.

Gardner: And we’ve been also here with Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer at The Open Group. Thank you, sir.

Lounsbury: You’re welcome, Dana, happy to be here.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect business enablement discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of BriefingsDirect discussions sponsored by The Open Group.

Thanks again for listening, please pass this along with your business community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group. 

Transcript of a discussion on how open standards help support a playbook approach for organizations to improve and accelerate their digital transformation. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC and The Open Group, 2005-2020. All rights reserved.

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