Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Three Generations of Citrix CEOs on Enabling a Better Way to Work


Transcript of a discussion on how Citrix is building on its 30-year record of success by remaking digital workplaces and redefining the very nature of applications and business intelligence.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

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

For the past 30 years, Citrix has made a successful habit of challenging the status quo. That includes:
  • Delivering applications as streaming services to multiple users
  • Making the entire PC desktop into a secure service
  • Enhancing networks that optimize applications delivery
  • Pioneering infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) now known as public cloud, and
  • Supplying a way to take enterprise applications and data to the mobile edge.
Now, Citrix is at it again, by creating digital workspaces and redefining the very nature of applications and business intelligence. How has one company been able to not only reinvent itself again and again, but make major and correct bets on the future direction of global information technology?

To find out, I recently sat down with three of Citrix’s chief executives from the past 30 years, Roger Roberts, Citrix CEO and Chairman from 1990 to 2002; Mark Templeton, CEO of Citrix from 2001 to 2015, and David Henshall, who became the company’s CEO in July of 2017.

So much has changed across the worker productivity environment over the past 30 years. The technology certainly has changed. What hasn’t changed as fast is the human factor, the people.

How do we keep moving the needle forward with technology and also try to attain productivity growth when we have this lump of clay that’s often hard to manage, hard to change?

Technology for humans 

Mark Templeton: The human factor “lump of clay” is changing as rapidly as technology because of the changing demographics of the workforce. Today’s baby boomers are being followed by generations of millennials, Gen Y, Gen X and then Gen Z will be making important decisions 20 years from now.

So the human factor clay is changing rapidly and providing great opportunity for innovation and invention of new technology in the workplace.

Gardner: The trick is to be able to create technology that the human factor will adopt. It’s difficult to solve a chicken and egg relationship when you don’t know what’s going to drive the other.

What about the past 30 years at Citrix gives you an edge in finding the right formula?

David Henshall: Citrix has always had an amazing ability to stay focused on connecting people and information -- and doing it in a way that it’s secure, managed, and available so that we can abstract away a lot of the complexity that’s inherent with technology.

Because, at the end of the day, all we are really focused on is driving those outcomes and allowing people to be as productive, successful, and engaged as humanly possible by giving them the tools to -- as we frame it up -- work in a way that’s most effective for them. That’s really about creating the future of work and allowing people to be unleashed so that they can do their best working.

Gardner: Roger, when you started, so much of the IT world was focused on platforms and applications and how one drives the other. You seem to have elevated yourself above that and focused on services, on delivery of productivity – because, after all, they are supposed to be productivity applications. How were you able to see above and beyond the 1980s platform-application relationship?

Roger Roberts: We grew up when the personal computer (PC) and local area networks (LANs) like when Novell NetWare came on the scene. Everybody wanted to use their own PC, driven primarily by things such as the Lotus applications.

So [applications like] spreadsheets, WordPerfect, dBase were the tremendous bulk of the market demand at that time. However, with the background that I shared with [Citrix Co-Founder] Ed Iacobucci, we had been in the real world working from mainframes through minicomputers and then to the PCs, and so we knew there were applications out there, where the existing model – well, it really sucked.

The trick then was to take advantage of the increasing processing power we knew the PC was going to deliver and put it in a robust environment that would have stability so we could target specific customers with specific applications. Those customers were always intrigued with our story.

Our story was not formed to meet the mass market. Things like running ads or trying to search for leads would have been a waste of time and money. It made no sense in those days because the vast majority of the world had no idea of what we were talking about.

Gardner: What turned out to be the killer application for Citrix’s rise? What were the use cases you knew would pay off even before the PC went mainstream?

The personnel touch 

Roberts: The easiest one to relate to is personnel systems. Brown and Root Construction out of Houston, Texas was a worldwide operation. Most of their offices were on construction sites and in temporary buildings. They had a great deal of difficulty managing their personnel files, including salaries, when someone was promoted, reviewed, or there was a new hire.

The only way you could do it in the client-server LAN world was to replicate the database. And let me tell you, nobody wants to replicate their human resources (HR) database across 9,000 or 10,000 sites.
The only way you could do it in the client-server-LAN world was to replicate the database. And let me tell you, nobody wants to replicate their HR database across 10,000 sites. We came in and said, "We can solve that problem for you."

So we came in and said, “We can solve that problem for you, and you can keep all of your data secure at your corporate headquarters. It will always be synchronized because there is only one copy. And we can give you the same capabilities that the LAN-based PC user experiences even over fairly slow telecommunication circuits.”

That really resonated with the people who had those HR problems. I won’t say it was an easy sell. When you are a small company, you are vulnerable. They ask, “How can we trust you to put in a major application using your technology when you don’t have a lot of business?” It was never the technology or the ability to get the job done that they questioned. It was more like having the staying power. That turned out to be the biggest obstacle.

Gardner: David, does it sound a little bit familiar? Today, 30 years later, we’re still dealing with distance, the capability of the network, deciding where the data should reside, how to manage privacy, and secure regulatory compliance. When you listen to Citrix’s use cases and requirements from 30 years ago, does it ring a bell?

Organize, guide, and predict work 

Henshall: It absolutely resonates because a lot of what we’re doing is still dealing with the inherent complexity of enterprise IT. Some of our largest customers today are dealing with thousands and thousands of underlying applications. Those can be everything from mainframe applications that Roger talked about through the different eras of client-server -- the PC, web, and mobile. A lot of those applications are still in use today because they are adding value to the business, and they are really hard to pull out of the infrastructure.

We can now help them abstract away a lot of that complexity put in over the last 30 years. We start by helping organize IT, allowing them to manage all that complexity of the application tier, and present that out in a way that is easier to consume, easier to manage, and easier to secure.

Several years ago, we began bringing together all of these application types in a way that I would describe as helping to move from organizing IT to organizing work. That means bringing not only the apps but access to all the content and files -- whether those reside in on-premises data repositories or in any cloud -- including Citrix Cloud. We make that all accessible across universal endpoints management. Then you layer underneath that all kinds of platform capabilities such as security, access control, management, and analytics.

Where we’re taking the company in the future is one step beyond organizing work to helping to guide and predict work. That will drive more engagement and productivity by leveraging machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and a lot of other capabilities to present work to people in real time and suggest and advise on what they need to be to be most productive.

That’s all just a natural evolution from back when the same fundamental concept was to connect people with the information they need to be productive in real time.

Gardner: One of the ways to improve on these tough problems, Mark, is being in the right place in an ecosystem. Citrix has continuously positioned itself between the data, the systems of record, and the end-user devices. You made a big bet on virtualization as a means to do that.

How do we understand the relationship between the technology and productivity? Is being in the right place and at the right time the secret sauce?

Customers first, innovation always

Templeton: Generically, right place and time is key in just about every aspect of life, but especially the timing of invention and innovation, how it’s introduced, and how to get it adopted.

Citrix adopted a philosophy from an ecosystem perspective from pretty early on. We thought of it as a Switzerland-type of mindset, where we’re willing to work with everyone in the ecosystem -- devices, networks, applications, etc. – to interoperate, even as they evolved. So we were basically device-, network-, and application-independent around the kind of the value proposition that David and Roger talked about.
We made a great reputation for ourselves by being able to provide a demilitarized zone so that customers could manage and control their own destiny. When a customer is better off, we are better off. But it starts with making the customer better off.

That type of a cooperative mindset is always in style because it is customer-centered. It’s based upon value-drivers for customers, and my experience is that when there are religious wars in the industry -- the biggest losers are customers. They pay for the fight, the incompatibilities, and obsolescence.

We made a great reputation for ourselves then by being able to provide a demilitarized zone (DMZ), or platform for détente, so that customers could manage and control their own destiny. The company has that culture and mindset and it’s always been that way. When a customer is better off, we are better off. But it starts with making the customer better off.

Gardner: Roger, we have often seen companies that had a great leap in innovation but then plateaued and got stuck in the innovator’s dilemma, as it’s been called. That hasn’t been the case with Citrix. You have been able to reinvent yourselves pretty frequently. How do you do that as a culture? How do you get people to stay innovative even when you have a very successful set of products? How do you not rest on your laurels?

Templeton: I think for the most part, people don’t change until they have to, and to actively disrupt yourself is a very unnatural act. Being aware of an innovator’s dilemma is the first step in being able to act on it. And we did have an innovator’s dilemma here on multiple occasions.

That we saw the cliff allowed us to make a turn – mostly ahead of necessity. We made a decision, we made a bet, and we made the innovator’s dilemma actually work for us. We used it as a catalyst for driving change. When you have a lot of smart engineers, if you help them see that innovator’s dilemma, they will fix it, they will innovate.

Gardner: The pace of business sure has ramped up in the last 30 years. You can go through that cycle in 9 or 10 months, never mind 9 or 10 years. David, is that something that keeps you up at night? How do you continue to be one step ahead of where the industry is going?

Embrace, empower change 

Henshall: The sine waves of business cycles are getting much more compressed and with much higher volatility. Today we simply have devices that are absolutely transient. The ways to consume technology and information are coming and going at a pace that is extraordinary. The same thing is true for applications and infrastructure, which not that many years ago involved a major project to install and manage.

Today, it’s a collection of mesh services in so many different areas. By their very nature they become transient. Instead of trying to fight these forces, we look for ways to embrace them and make them part of what we do.


When we talk about the Citrix Workspace platform, it is absolutely device- and infrastructure-independent because we recognize our customers have different choices. It’s very much like the Switzerland approach that Mark talked about. The fact that those choices change over time -- and being able to support that change -- is critical for our own staying power and stickiness. It also gives customers the level of comfort that we are going to be with them wherever they are in their journey.

But it’s the sheer laws of physics that have taken these disruptions to a place where, not that many years ago, it was about how fast physical goods could transfer across state or national boundaries. Today’s market moves on a Tweet or a notification or a new service -- something that was just not even possible a few years ago.

Roberts: At the time I retired from Citrix, we were roughly at $500 million [in annual revenue] and growing tremendously. I mean we grew a factor of 10 in four years, and that still amazes me.

Our piece of the market at that time was 100 percent Microsoft Windows-centric. At the same time, you could look at that and tell we could be a multibillion-dollar company just in that space. But then came the Internet, with web apps, web app servers, new technology, HTML, and Java and you knew the world we were in had a very lucrative and long run, but if we didn’t do something, inevitably it was going to die. I think it would have been a slow death, but it would have been death.

Gardner: The relationship with Microsoft that you brought up. It’s not out of the question to say that you were helping them avoid the innovator’s dilemma. In instances that I can recall, you were able to push Microsoft off of its safety block. You were an accelerant to Microsoft’s next future. Is that fair, Mark?

Templeton: Well, I don’t think we were an accelerant to Microsoft per se. We were helping Microsoft extend the reach of Windows into places and use cases that they weren’t providing a solution for. But the Windows brand has always been powerful, and it helped us certainly with our [1995] initial public offering (IPO). In fact, the tagline on our IPO was that “Citrix extends the reach of Microsoft Windows,” in many ways, in terms of devices, different types of connectivity, over the Internet, over dial-up and on wireless networks.

Our value to Microsoft was always around being a value-added kind of partner, even though we had a little bit of a rough spot with them. I think most people didn’t really understand it, but I think Microsoft did, and we worked out a great deal that’s been fantastic for both companies for many, many years.

Gardner: David, as we look to the future and think about the role of AI and ML, having the right data is such an important part of that. How has Citrix found itself in the catbird seat when it comes to having access to broad data? How did your predecessors help out with that?

Data drives, digests, and directs the future 

Henshall: Well, if I think about data and analytics right now, over the last couple of years we’ve spent an extraordinary amount of time building out what I call an analytics platform that sits underneath the Citrix Workspace platform.

We have enough places that we can instrument to capture information from everything, from looking backward across the network, into the application, the user, the location, the files, and all of those various attributes. We collect a rich dataset of many, many different things.

Taking it to a platform approach allows us to step back and begin introducing modules, if you will, that use this information not just in a reporting way, but in a way to actually drive enforcement across the platform. Those great data collection points are also places where we can enforce a policy.
Over the last couple of years we have spent an extraordinary amount of time building out what I call an analytics platform that sits underneath the Citrix Workspace platform.We collect a rich dataset of many, many different things.

Gardner: The metadata has become more important in many cases than the foundational database data. The metadata about what’s going on with the network, the relationship between the user and their devices, what’s going on between all the systems, and how the IT infrastructure beneath them is performing.

Did you have a clue, Mark, that the metadata about what’s going on across an IT environment would become so powerful one day?

Templeton: Absolutely. While I was at Citrix, we didn’t have the technical platform yet to handle big data the way you can handle it now. I am really thrilled to hear that under David’s leadership the company is diving into that because it’s behavioral data around how people are consuming systems -- which systems, how they’re working, how available are they, and whether they’re performing. And there are many things that data can express around security, which is a great opportunity for Citrix.

Back in my time, in one of the imagination presentations, we would show IT customers how they eventually would have the equivalent of quarterly brokerage reports. You could see all the classes of investments -- how much is invested in this type of app, that type of app, the data, where it’s residing, its performance and availability over time. Then you could make important decisions – even simple ones like when do we turn this application off. At that time, there was very little data to help IT make such hard decisions.

So that was always in the idea, but I’m really thrilled to see the company doing it now.

Gardner: So David, now that you have all of that metadata, and the big data systems to analyze it in real-time, what does that get for you?

Serving what you need, before you need it 

Henshall: The applications are pretty broad, actually. If you think about our data platform right now, we’re able to do lots of closed-loop analytics across security, operations, and performance -- and really drive all three of those different factors to improve overall performance. You can customize that in an infinite number of ways so customers can manage it in the way that’s right for their business.


But what’s really interesting now is, as you start developing a pattern of behaviors in the way people are going about work, we can predict and guide work in ways that were unavailable not that long ago. We can serve up the information before you need it based on the graph of other things that you’re doing at work.

A great example is mobile applications for airlines today. The smart ones are tied into the other things that you are doing. So an hour before your flight, it already gives you a notification that it’s time to leave for the airport. When you get to your car, you have your map of the fastest route to the airport already plotted out. As you check in, using biometrics or some other form of authentication, it simplifies these workflows in a very intuitive way.

We have amazing amounts of information that will take that example and allow us to drive it throughout a business context.

Gardner: Roger, in 30 years, we have gone from delivering a handful of applications to people in a way that’s acceptable -- given the constraints of the environment and the infrastructure -- to a point where the infrastructure data doesn’t have any constraints. We are able to refine work and tell people how they should be more productive.

Is that something you could have imagined back then?

Roberts: Quite frankly, as good as I am, no. It’s beyond my comprehension.

I have an example. I was recently in Texas, and we had an airplane that broke down. We had to get back, and using only my smartphone, I was able to charter a flight, sign a contract with DocuSign, pay for it with an automated clearing house (ACH) transfer, and track that flight on FlightAware to the nearest 15 seconds. I could determine how much time it would take us to get home, and then arrange an Uber ride. Imagine that? It still amazes me; it truly amazes me.

Gardner: You guys would know this better than I do, but it seems that you can run a multinational corporation on a device that fits in your palm. Is that an exaggeration?

Device in hand still needs hands-on help 

Templeton: In many ways, it still is an exaggeration. You can accomplish a lot with the smart device in your hand, and to the degree that leadership is largely around communications and the device in your hand gives you information and the ability to communicate, you can do a lot. But it’s not a substitute entirely for other types of tasks and work that it takes to run a big business, including the human relationships.

Gardner: David, maybe when the Citrix vision for 2030 comes out, you will be able to -- through cloud, AI, and that device -- do almost anything?

Henshall: It will be more about having the right information on demand when you need it, and that’s a trend that we’ve seen for quite some time.
The amount of information is absolutely staggering. But turning that into something that is actually useful is nearly impossible. The businesses that are going to be successful are those that can put the right information at people's fingertips at the right time to interact with different business opportunities.

If you look at the broader trends and technology, I mean, we are entering the yottabyte era now, which is one with 24 zeros after it. The amount of information is absolutely staggering. But turning that into something that is actually useful is nearly impossible.

That’s where AI and ML -- and a lot of these other advancements -- will allow you to parse through that all and give people the freedom of information that probably just never existed before. So the days of proprietary knowledge, of proprietary data, are quickly coming to an end. The businesses that are going to be successful are those that can put the right information at people’s fingertips at the right time to interact with different business opportunities.

That’s what the technology allows you to do. Advancements in network and compute are making that a very near-term reality. I think we are just on that continuum.

Goodbye digital, hello contextual era 

Templeton: You don’t realize an era is over until you’re in a new one. For example, I think the digital era is now done. It ended when people woke up every day and started to recognize that they have too many devices, too many apps that do similar things, too many social things to manage, and blah, blah, blah. How do you keep track of all that stuff in a way where you know what to look at and when?

The technologies underlying AI and ML are defining a new era that I call the “contextual era.” A contextual era works exactly how David just described it. It senses and predicts. It makes the right information available in true context. Just like Roger was saying, it brings all those the things he needs together for him, situationally. And, obviously, it could even be easier than the experience that he described.

We are in the contextual era now because the amount of data, the number of apps, and the plethora of devices that we all have access to is beyond human comprehension.

Gardner: David, how do you characterize this next era? Imagine us having a conversation in 30 years with Citrix, talking about how it was able to keep up with the times.

Henshall: Mark put it absolutely the way I would, in terms of being able to be contextual in such a way that it brings purpose through the chaos, or the volume of data, or the information that exists out there. What we are really trying to do in many dimensions is think about our technology platform as a way that creates space. Space for people to be successful, space for them to really do their best work. And you do that by removing a lot of the clutter.

You remove a lot of the extraneous things that bog people down. When we talk about it with our customers, the statistics behind-the-scenes are amazing. We are interrupted every two minutes in this world right now; a Tweet, a text, an email, a notification. And science shows that humans are not very good at multitasking. Our brains just haven’t evolved that way.

Gardner: It goes back to that lump of clay we talked about at the beginning. Some things don’t change.

Henshall: When you are interrupted, it takes you 20 minutes on average to get back to the task at hand. That’s one of the fundamental reasons why the statistics around engagement around the world are horrible.

For the average company, 85 percent of their employee base is disengaged -- 85 percent! Gallup even put a number on that -- they say it’s a $7 trillion annual problem. It’s enormous. We believe that part of that is a technology problem. We have created technologies that are no longer enhancing people’s ability to be productive and to be engaged.

If we can simplify those interactions, allow workers to engage in a way that’s more intuitive, more focused on the task at hand versus the possibility of interruption, it just helps the entire ecosystem move forward. That’s the way I think about it.

CEO staying-power strategies 

Gardner: On the subject of keeping time on your side, it’s not very often I get together with 30 years’ worth of CEOs to talk about things. For those in our audience who are leaders of companies, small or large, what advice can you give them on how to keep their companies thriving for 30 years?

Roberts: Whenever you are running a company -- you are running the company. It puts a lot of pressure on you to think about the future, when technology is going to change, and how you get ahead of the power curve before it’s too late.

There is a hell of an operational component. How do you keep the wheel turning and the current moving? How do you keep it functioning, how do you grow staff, and how do you put in systems and infrastructure?

The challenge of managing as the company grows is enormously more complicated. There is the complexity of the technology, the people, the market, and what’s going on in the ecosystem. But never lose sight of the execution component, because it can kill you quicker than losing sight of the strategy.
The challenge of managing as the company grows is enormously more complicated. But never lose sight of the execution component, because it can kill you quicker than losing sight of the strategy.

One thing I tried to do was instill a process in the company where seemingly hard questions were easy, because it was part of the fabric of how people measured and kept up with their jobs, what they were doing, and what they were forecasting. Things as simple as, “Jennifer, how many support calls are we going to get in the second quarter next year or the fourth quarter of the following year?” It’s how do you think about what you need, to be able to answer questions like those.

“How much are we going to sell?” Remember, we were selling packaged product, through a two-step distribution channel. There was no backlog. Backlog was a foreign concept, so every 30 days we had to get up and do it all over again.

It takes a lot of thought, depending on how big you want to be. If you are a CEO, the most important thing to figure out is how big you want to be. If you want to be a lifestyle, small company, then hats off; I admire you. There is nothing wrong with that.

If you want to be a big company, you need to be putting in process, systems, infrastructure, strategy, and marketing now -- even though you might not think you need it. And then the other side of that is, if you go overboard in that direction, process will kill you. Where everybody is so ingrained in the process, nobody is questioning, nobody is thinking, they are just going through the process, that is as deadly as not having one.

So process is necessary, process is not sufficient. Process will help you, and it will also kill you.

Gardner: Mark, same question, advice to keep a company 30 years’ young?

Templeton: Going after Roger is the toughest thing in the world. I’ll share where I focused at Citrix. Number one is making sure you have an opinion about the future, that you believe strongly enough to bet your career and business on it. And number two, to make sure that you are doing the things that make your business model, your products, and your services more relevant over time. That allows you to execute some of the great advice that Roger just gave, so the wind’s at your back, so you are using the normal forces of change and evolution in the world to work for you, because it’s already too hard and you need all the help you can get.

A simple example is the whole idea of consumerization of IT. Pretty early on, we had an opinion about that, so, at Citrix, we created a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy and an experimental program. I think we were among the first and we certainly evangelized it. We developed a lot of technology to help support it, to make it work and make it better. That BYOD idea became more and more relevant over time as the workforce got younger and younger and began bringing their own devices to the office, and Citrix had a solution.

So that’s an example. We had that opinion and we made a bet on it. And it put some wind at our back.

Gardner: David, you are going to be able to get tools that these guys couldn’t get. You are going to have AI and ML on your side. You are going to be able to get rid of some of those distractions. You are going to take advantage of the intelligence embedded in the network -- but you are still going to also have to get the best of what the human form factor, that lump of clay, that wetware, can do.

So what’s the CEO of the future going to do in terms of getting the right balance between what companies like Citrix are providing them as tools -- but not losing track of what’s the best thing that a human brain can do?

IT’s not to do and die, but to reason why

Henshall: It’s an interesting question. In a lot of ways, technology and the pace of evolution right now are breaking down the historical hierarchy that has existed in a lot of organizations. It has created the concept of a liquid enterprise, similar what we’ve talked about with those who can respond and react in different ways.

But what that doesn’t ever replace is what Roger and Mark were talking about -- the need to have a future-back methodology, one that I subscribe to a lot, where we help people understand where we’re going, but more importantly, why.


And then you operationalize that in a way that people have context, so everybody understands clarity in terms of roles and responsibilities, operational outcomes, milestones, metrics, and how we are going to measure that along the way. Then that becomes a continuous process.

There is no such thing as, “Set it and forget it.” Without a perspective and a point of view, everything else doesn’t have enough purpose. And so you have to marry those going forward. Make sure you’re empowering your teams with culture and clarity -- and then turn them loose and let them go.

Gardner: Productivity in itself isn’t necessarily a high enough motivator.

Henshall: No, productivity by itself is just a metric, and it’s going to be measured in 100 different ways. Productivity should be based on understanding clarity in terms of what the outcomes need to be and empowering that, so people can do their best work in a very individual and unique way.

The days of measuring tasks are mostly in the past. Measuring outcomes, which can be somewhat loosely defined, are really where we are going. And so, how do we enable that? That’s how I think about it.

Gardner: I’m afraid we will have to leave it there. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on how Citrix has made a highly successful habit of challenging the status quo. And we’ve learned from chief executives over the years how Citrix made major and correct bets on the future direction of global information technology.

And they are at it again by remaking digital workplaces and redefining the very nature of applications and business intelligence. So, a big thank you to our special guests, Roger Roberts, Mark Templeton, and David Henshall. And thanks to our audience as well for joining this BriefingsDirect 30 years of CEOs innovation discussion.

I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of Citrix-sponsored BriefingsDirect discussions. Thanks again for listening, please pass this along to your business associates, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Citrix.

Transcript of a discussion on how Citrix is building on its 30-year record of success by remaking digital workplaces and redefining the very nature of applications and business intelligence. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2019. All rights reserved.

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Monday, December 02, 2019

How the ArchiMate Modeling Standard Helps Enterprise Architects Deliver Greater Business Agility and Successful Digital Transformation

Transcript of a discussion on how companies and governments can better produce rapid innovation and manage complexity across their IT and business operations.

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 business trends discussion explores how the latest update to the ArchiMate® standard helps Enterprise Architects (EAs) make complex organizations more agile and productive.

Joining me is Marc Lankhorst, Managing Consultant and Chief Technology Evangelist at BiZZdesign in The Netherlands, and he also leads the development team within the ArchiMate Forum at The Open Group. Welcome, Marc.

Marc Lankhorst: Thank you.

Gardner: There are many big changes happening within IT, business, and the confluence of both. We are talking about Agile processes, lean development, DevOps, the ways that organizations are addressing rapidly changing business environments and requirements.

Companies today want to transform digitally to improve their business outcomes. How does Enterprise Architecture (EA) as a practice and specifically the ArchiMate standard support being more agile and lean?

Lankhorst: The key role of enterprise architecture in that context is to control and reduce complexity, because complexity is the enemy of change. If everything is connected to everything else, it’s too difficult to make any changes, because of all of the moving parts.

And one of the key tools is to have models of your architecture to create insights into how things are connected so you know what happens if you change something. You can design where you want to go by making something that is easier to change from your current state.

It’s a misunderstanding that if you have Agile development processes like Scrum or SAFe then eventually your company will also become an agile organization. It’s not enough. It’s important, but if you have an agile process and you are still pouring concrete, the end result will still be inflexibility.

Stay flexible, move with the times

So the key role of architecture is to ensure that you have flexibility in the short-term and in the long-term. Models are a great help in that. And that’s of course where the ArchiMate standard comes in. It lets you create models in standardized ways, where everybody understands them in the same way. It lets you analyze your architecture across many aspects, including identifying complexity bottlenecks, cost issues, and risks from outdated technology -- or any other kind of analysis you want to make.

Enterprise architecture is the key discipline in this new world of digital transformation and business agility. Although the discipline has to change to move with the times, it’s still very important to make sure that your organization is adaptive, can change with the times, and doesn’t get stuck in an overly complex, legacy world.
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Gardner: Of course, Enterprise Architecture is always learning and improving, and so the ArchiMate standard is advancing, too. So please summarize for me the improvements in the new release of ArchiMate, version 3.1.

Lankhorst: The most obvious new addition to the standard is the concept of a value stream, that’s the latest new concept or new standard. That’s inspired by business architecture, and those of you who follow things like TOGAF®, a standard of The Open Group, or the BIZBOK will know this that value streams are a key concept in there, next to things like capabilities. ArchiMate didn’t yet have a value stream concept. Now it does, and it plays the same role as the value stream does for the TOGAF framework.

It lets you express how a company produces its value and what the stages in the value production are. So that helps describe how an organization realizes its business outcomes. That’s the most visible addition.

Next to that, there are some other changes, minor things, such as you can have a directed association relationship instead of only an undirected one. That can come in very handy in all kinds of modeling situations. And there are some technical improvements to various definitions; they have been clarified. The specification of the metamodel has been improved.

One technical improvement specifically of interest to ArchiMate specialists is the way in which we deal with so-called derived relationships. A derived relationship is basically the conclusion you can draw from a whole chain of things connected together. You might want to see what’s actually the end-to-end connection between things on that chain so there are rules on that. We have changed, improved, and formalized these rules. That allows, at a technical level, some extra capabilities in the language.

And that’s really for the specialists. I would say the first two things, the value stream concept and this directed association -- those are the most visible for most end users.

Overall value of the value stream 

Gardner: It’s important to understand how value streams now are being applied holistically. We have seen them, of course, in the frameworks -- and now with ArchiMate. Value streams provide a common denominator for organizations to interpret and then act. That often cuts across different business units. Help us understand why value streams as a common denominator are so powerful.

Lankhorst: Value stream helps express the value that an organization produces for its stakeholders, the outcomes it produces, and the different stages needed to produce that value. It provides a concept that’s less detailed than looking at your individual business processes.
Value stream helps express the value that an organization produces for its stakeholders, the outcomes it produces, and the different stages needed to produce that value. It provides a concept that's less detailed than looking at your individual business processes.

If you look at the process level, you might be standing too closely in front of the picture. You don’t see the overall perspective of how a company creates value for its customers. You only see the individual tasks that you perform, but how that actually adds value for your stakeholders -- that’s really the key.

The capability concept and the mapping between them is also very important. That allows you see what capabilities are needed for the stages in the value production. And in that way, you have a great starting point for the rest of the development of your architecture. It tells you what you need to be able to do in order to add value in these different stages.

You can use that at a relatively high level, an economic perspective, where you look at classical value chains from, say, a supplier via internal production to marketing and sales and to the consumer. You can also use that at a fine-grade level. But the focus is really always about the value you create -- rather than the tasks you perform.

Gardner: For those who might not be familiar with ArchiMate, can you provide us with a brief history? It was first used in The Netherlands in 2004 and it’s been part of The Open Group since 2008. How far back is your connection with ArchiMate?

Lankhorst: Yes, it started as a research and development project in The Netherlands. At that time, I worked at an applied research institute in IT. We did joint collaborative projects with industry and academia. In the case of ArchiMate, there was a project in which we had, for example, a large bank and a pension fund and the Dutch tax administration. A number of these large organizations needed a common way of describing architectures.
That began in 2002. I was the project manager of that project until 2004. Already during the projects the participating companies said, “We need this. We need a description technique for architecture. We also want you to make this a standard.” And we promised to make it into a standard. We needed a separate organization for that.

So we were in touch with The Open Group in 2004 to 2005. It took a while, but eventually The Open Group adopted the standard, and the official version under the aegis of The Open Group came out in 2008, version 1. We had a number of iterations: in 2012, version 2.0, and in 2016, version 3.0. Now, we are at version 3.1.

Gardner: The vision for ArchiMate is to be a de facto modeling notation standard for Enterprise Architecture that helps improve communication between different stakeholders across an organization, a company, or even a country or a public agency. How do the new ArchiMate improvements help advance this vision, in your opinion?
The value streams concept gives a broader perspective of how value is produced -- even across an ecosystem of organizations. This broad perspective is important.

Lankhorst: The value streams concept gives a broader perspective of how value is produced -- even across an ecosystem of organizations. That’s broader than just a single company or a single government agency. This broad perspective is important. Of course it works internally for organizations, it has worked like that, but increasingly we see this broader perspective.

Just to name two examples of that. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in its most recent NATO Architecture Framework version 4 came out early last year, now specify ArchiMate as one of the two allowed metamodels for specifically modeling architecture for NATO.

For these different countries and how they work together, this is one of the allowed standards. For example, the British Ministry of Defence wants to use ArchiMate models and the ArchiMate Exchange format to communicate with industry. For example, when seek a request for proposal (RFP), they use ArchiMate models for describing the context of that and then require industry to provide ArchiMate models to describe their solution.

Another example is in the European System of Central Banks. They have joint systems for doing transactions between central banks. They have completely modeled those out in ArchiMate. So, all of these different central banks have the same understanding of the architecture, across, between, and within organizations. Even within organizations you can have the same problems of understanding what’s actually happening, how the bits fit together, and make sure everybody is on the same page.

A manifesto to control complexity 

Gardner: It’s very impressive, the extent to which ArchiMate is now being used and applied. One of the things that’s also been impressive is that the goal of ArchiMate to corral complexity hasn’t fallen into the trap of becoming too complex itself. One of its goals was to remain as small as possible, not to cover every single scenario.

How do you manage not to become too complex? How has that worked for ArchiMate?

Lankhorst: One of the key principles behind the language is that we want to keep it as small and simple as possible. When we drew up our own ArchiMate manifesto -- some might know of the Agile manifesto – and the ArchiMate manifesto is somewhat similar.

One of the key principles is that we want to cover 80 percent of cases for the 80 percent of the common users, rather than try to cover a 100 percent for a 100 percent of the users. That would give you exotic use cases that require very specific features in the language that hardly anybody uses. It can clutter the picture for all the users. It would be much more complicated.
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So, we have been vigilant to avoid that feature-creep, where we keep adding and adding all sorts of things to the language. We want to keep it as simple as possible. Of course, if you are in a complex world, you can’t always keep it completely straightforward. You have to be able to address that complexity. But keeping the language as easy to use and as easy to understand as possible has and will remain the goal.

Gardner: The Open Group has been adamant about having executable standards as a key principle, not too abstract but highly applicable. How is the ArchiMate standard supporting this principle of being executable and applicable?

Lankhorst: In two major ways. First, because it is implemented by most major architecture tools in the market. If you look at the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the EA tools in there, pretty much all of them have an implementation of the ArchiMate language. It is just the standard for EA.

In that sense, it becomes the one standard that rules them all in the architecture field. At a more detailed level, the executable standards, the ArchiMate Exchange format has played an important role. It makes it possible to exchange models between different tools for different applications. I mentioned the example of the UK Ministry of Defence which wants to exchange models with industry, specify their requirements, and get back specifications and solutions using ArchiMate models. It’s really important to make these kinds of models and this kind of information available in ways that the different tools can use, manipulate, and analyze.

Gardner: That’s ArchiMate 3.1. When did that become available?

Lankhorst: The first week of November 2019.

Gardner: What are the next steps? What does the future hold? Where do you take ArchiMate next?

Lankhorst: We haven’t made any concrete plans yet for possible improvements. But some things you can think about is simplifying the language further so that it is even easier to use, perhaps having a simplified notation for certain use cases so you don’t need the precision of the current notation. Maybe having an alternative notation that looks easier to the eye.

There are some other things that we might want to look at. For example, ArchiMate currently assumes that you already have a fair idea about what kind of solution you are developing. But maybe it’s moving an upstream to the brainstorming phase of architecture. So supporting the initial stages of design. That might be something we want to look into.

There are various potential directions but it’s our aim to keep things simple and help architects express what they want to do -- but not make the language overly complicated and more difficult to learn.
So simplicity, communication, and maybe expanding a bit toward early-stage design. Those are the ideas that I currently have. Of course, there is a community, the ArchiMate Forum within The Open Group. All of the members have a say. There are other outside influences as well, with various ideas of where we could take this.

Gardner: It’s also important to note that the certification program around ArchiMate is very active. How can people learn more about certification in ArchiMate?

Certification basics 

Lankhorst: You can find more details on The Open Group website, it’s all laid out there. Basically, there are two levels of certification and you can take the exams for that.  You can take courses with various course providers, BiZZdesign being one of them, and then prepare for the exam.

Increasingly, I see in practice of this is the requirements when architects are hired, that they are certified so that the company that hires, say consultants, knows that at least they know the basics. So, I would certainly recommend taking an exam if you are into Enterprise Architecture.

Gardner: And of course there are also the events around the world. These topics come up and are often very uniformly and extensively dealt with at The Open Group events, so people should look for those at the website as well.

I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on how the latest update to the ArchiMate standard helps Enterprise Architects make complex organizations more agile and productive.

Please join me in thanking our guest, Marc Lankhorst, Managing Consultant and Chief Technology Evangelist at BiZZdesign in The Netherlands. Thank you so much, Marc.

Lankhorst: You’re welcome.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect agile business innovation 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 to your IT 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 companies and governments can better produce rapid innovation and manage complexity across their IT and business operations. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC and The Open Group, 2005-2019. All rights reserved.

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