I note interesting debates about the need for a next generation EA framework. However I am disappointed by the less than radical nature of debate that, at least I, have observed. I submit a good place to start is with the fundamental nature of business and how it is evolving and to consider what the enterprise of the future looks like. There are many indicators that we are entering a new phase of IT exploitation that will represent a real paradigm shift. Paul Krugman suggests IT is at last becoming significant, enabling a technology revolution to rival previous technology revolutions. Krugman cites driverless cars as an example of the technology moving into the physical world that has the potential to power growth. I will also instance a wave of disruptive technology delivering high bandwith always on connectivity for billions of workers and consumers, mobility, BYOD, social networks, big data and next generation analytics, robotics and Cloud. And the widespread adoption of Agile methods is also highly significant.
This stream of disruptive technologies is having a major impact on enterprises and the way they work. A Gartner report released this week predicts that by 2017, 25 per cent of enterprises will have enterprise app stores where workers can browse and download apps to their computers and mobile devices. I think that prediction will turn out to be conservative. It’s striking that many if not most enterprises are already being run as a continuous stream of initiatives, driven by business competitive pressures which in many cases are triggered by the disruptive technologies mentioned. And strategic innovation is typically being delivered in Agile projects which will increasingly combine business and IT expertise in defining the architecture and requirements.
But this is still a conventional view, doing what we do today, faster, better cheaper. What’s more importantly is to look at how the technology will enable profound change that spans existing enterprise boundaries. Consider Krugman’s Driverless Cars. This revolution is set to change the shape of personal transport in the relatively near term and will involve capabilities such as telematics, insurance, road tolling, mapping, navigation, vehicle recognition, which span car manufacturers, the financial industry, local or state government, emergency services and so on. This is a new ecosystem in the making which will require near real time, collaborative services spanning multiple business sectors.
Is this driverless cars ecosystem an isolated revolution? I don’t think so; consider smart shopping which is already taking off like a rocket with showrooming, or the extension of mobile devices to sector specific applications such as drug testing, health monitoring. I could go on. The future is going to look like many, many ecosystems, rapidly evolving usually not in the control of a single enterprise.
So returning to the question about a next generation EA framework, we might put a few stakes in the ground:
1. The pace of change is increasing so fast that conventional approaches (frameworks) for modelling will be left behind.
2. Ecosystem architecture should be primarily about identifying how an enterprise leverages an ecosystem by providing capabilities and their business services that collaborate and evolve along with the wider landscape.
3. The future is “business service” oriented. The application is dead. Business Service Implementation would be a better term.
4. The Capability and Service architecture will be a strategic business asset.
5. Capabilities as highly independent units of business function will be the way the business is organized.
6. The primary task of enterprise architects will be to develop the Capability and Service architectures as part of the business design.
7. Enterprise architects will probably be renamed Capability and Business Service Architects and report to the CMO.
8. The framework scope must span the entire Agile life cycle. Architecture is no longer a top down precursor to delivery, it must be an evolving set of deliverables and inherently implementable. The framework therefore needs to support concurrent development of business requirements, ecosystem, service and solution architecture, modernization, plus service and solution specification and delivery.
What’s needed is a new framework that recognizes the enterprise itself is a series of overlapping business ecosystems that are in turn part of a series of ecosystems that transcend the scope of the enterprise itself. A new framework should be focused on the capabilities and their inter-connections and manage the development of the business ecosystem(s) to the advantage of the enterprise.
While Capability is a widely used concept, notwithstanding some significant divergence of definition, the missing link is the realization of the Capability. In our work we use the Business Service concept – which delivers the capability in a context free manner. It’s extraordinary that our business vocabulary doesn’t include the formal Business Service concept in the same way that we are able to talk unequivocally about Business Process and know we will be understood.
The core model underlying the framework for future business needs to be service oriented, but it’s essential that the model is fully integrated with business concerns, and enables an implementable architecture in a way that current EA models manifestly do not. The new framework is also highly supporting of Agile methods in the entire life cycle being lightweight, twin track, narrow scope based on the Capability and Business Service, and contract based dependencies.
We will be running a workshop that explores these ideas in London in April in conjunction with the IASA UK Summit. If you can’t make the London event, (for geographic of schedule reasons) talk to me about how we can accommodate.