8 years, 3 months ago

12 Heuristics for Enterprise Architecting

Photo of a compass.  The heuristics that I present in this articles will be like a compass for my future enterprise architecture exercises, guiding me in what to focus on.
photo credits: i k o

Lessons learnt as I reflect on a recent four-month Enterprise Architecting (EA) exercise.   In the exercise, a 4-person team helped an organization map out where the organization was at, where it wanted to be and how it could get there.

Each lesson is captured as a heuristic, a rule of thumb that I want to remember so that I can use it to guide me for future projects.  They are not truths, and will get refined with more experience and insight.  I definitely hope to hear your experiences that relate to these heuristics, regardless of whether they support or invalidate a heuristic.

What made this EA exercise interesting is that, though it is not my first EA exercise, it is the first one I took a lead role in.  Also, this exercise made use of a methodology new to me, from MIT course “Enterprise Architecting” taught by Professor Deborah Nightingale and Dr. Donna Rhodes. In addition, ideas from the book “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy” also crept into the EA exercise, as I was concurrently attending a class by the book’s co-author Dr. Jeanne Ross. 
8 years, 3 months ago

What platforms has social media created for us, and how should we use them?

Complexity of networks and the opportunities they bring
Photo Credit: GustavoG

There is no doubt that social media has made a significant impact on our lives. Consumers get their information socially via articles and videos recommended by their friends, they buy things based on their friends’ recommendations but also often based on “strangers’ recommendation” like on Yelp and Tripadvisor, and some even offer products and services on sites like getaround, airbnb and prosper, but here again more to strangers than to people in they know.

From the earlier description, we can see two types of social network. One that is made up of people we know (simplistically referred to here as friends), while the other is made up mostly of people we don’t know (referred here as strangers). The key values of friends networks are trust and relationship. These are people that we know, so we are more trusting of the truthfulness of their recommendations. Note though we might not believe in their suitability at making particular recommendations, for example we would not trust computer advice given by our technology-challenged friends. Friends networks also hold people we care about. We want to know how they have been recently; we are interested in their photos, etc. and we want to share highs and lows of our lives with them.

The key values of stranger networks are size and diversity. When we need advice on a niche topic, it might be hard to find someone in our friends network who can help us but because of comparably much large size of the stranger network, it is likely that we can find someone there who can help us. Moreover, if we need help from a lot of people, say to complete the one million pixel project, the stranger network is more right-sized for the job compared to our friends networks.

Are there other types of networks? There are professional networks, now championed by linked-in. There are also interest-based networks, like customer networks. What values do these networks offer? The article “Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media[1]” seems to offer a good framework for analyzing different types of social media. Hopefully I will get to reading it and then I can share my thoughts.

What are the implications of these networks and how should we make the best use of them? I think every individual and organisaton need to be more aware of these different types of networks, their functions and values, and then think about how best to use them. For example, recently I have grown to see more of the value of LinkedIn, as it is a better platform than Facebook for building a community of practice around my expertise. I can join in discussions related to my professional interest area and also build my reputation, something that is harder to do on Facebook as the content there is more informal and I might not be connected to colleagues that I am connected with on LinkedIn (and for many relationships I want to keep it that way). What are other networks I can tap into? What are the opportunities there?

[1]Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media  – Jan H. Kietzmann *, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy, Bruno S. Silvestre 

8 years, 3 months ago

Process Architecture and Information Architecture – The Missing Link

Maximizing the effectiveness of your business architecture and business capabilities, requires you to develop your process architecture and information architecture together in lock step. Most will agree that processes and information are intricately linked. For example, the effectiveness of process decisions depends on quality information and the quality of information depends on the processes that

The post Process Architecture and Information Architecture – The Missing Link appeared first on Louise A Harris on Enterprise Business Architecture.

8 years, 3 months ago

Looking back on the first year of my EA role at Bristol

Presentation to the JISC Transformations Programme A couple of weeks ago I presented some thoughts on what I’ve learned through doing Enterprise Architecture in my new role at the University of Bristol this last year. The event was the JISC “Doing Enterprise Architecture workshop” and the slides to my presentation can be found here: Slide […]

8 years, 3 months ago

Design Thinking

I have just finished reading Roger Martin’s book “The Design of Business”. He is describing and promoting the use of “design thinking” in developing products and services. Basically he is writing about the balance of creative design and analytical design, which is a key principle behind successful business architecture. The purpose and challenge of the business architect is

The post Design Thinking appeared first on Louise A Harris on Enterprise Business Architecture.

8 years, 4 months ago

End of "High Street Retail" As We Know It…..

More than 2,000 UK jobs were axed yesterday, as Game Group closed hundreds of shops after the company collapsed into administration. The beleaguered video games retailer, which had 610 UK stores, was unable to meet a £21m second-quarter rental payment due on Sunday and appointed the accountancy firm PwC as administrator. Is this the end of “High Street Retail” as we know it? Is it the beginning of the end? 

The writing was on the wall for Game for some time now. Earlier this month,the struggling video games retailer had confirmed that a number of its suppliers were refusing to do business with the company, sending its shares down 63% to 1.29p. Back then Game said that while it was trying to resolve the matter “as quickly as possible”, it was unsure if its efforts would be successful.

The Game is not the only retail business struggling for the past few years. Almost all high-street retailers have recorded reduced operating margins and profits, if at all they were there. The difficulties at Game are testament to the current squeeze on living costs coupled with a change in shopping habits and games technology. The group has also been battered by competition from cheaper rivals on the internet, such as Amazon and Play.com, and the major supermarkets. Separately, many people now download game Apps direct to tablets or smart phones, rather than buying software to be loaded in to consoles like the PlayStation, xBox on Nintendo Wii.

What the Game story tells us however is something unique where a Technology brand is being eaten by fast evolving technology business models. As Matthew Warman states in the Telegraph, “the story of Game is simply the first taste of what the web is doing to global retail – its products happen to be bought by users who migrated quickly to the web. All other specialist retailers are being challenged online: Whittards, to take just one example, is under pressure from specialist tea and coffee retailers such as Teahorse and Kopi, who will send subscribers superb selections every month, and cater to profitable, premium niches yet don’t have the overheads of high street rents and other associated costs. Many consumers simply see that they don’t have the inconvenience of shopping. Where Game led, even the most aromatic of products is set to surely follow.” 

It was not so long ago that another high-profile retail venture went bust in the UK. It was in November 2011 that, Carphone Warehouse announced that it was to close all of its 11 Best Buy stores across the UK. The first Best Buy store in the UK only opened in April of last year. But the outlets failed to make a profit. Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy initially planned to open 200 Best Buy stores across the UK and continental Europe. But clearly they had to abandon those plans well and truly before they could take-off. Is there market left for technology shopping on UK high-street? Probably there is and there will be always that small niche segment of shoppers who prefer to touch their electronic goods, CDs, Games and likes before they buy them. But that segment is shrinking all the time and internet players will certainly be calling the shots in this segment of Retail market.

8 years, 4 months ago

Discipline Is Not a Curse

For those of us in the Enterprise Architecture, impressing the value of discipline on the world that is incentivized to ignore it, is par for the course.  Whether it’s due to great expectations, unrealistic timelines, lack of coherent planning, or all of the above, ensuring and enabling others to follow a method or process with trust that success will not come from taking shortcuts is a Herculean task.

So when we transitioned to a Capability-Driven Startup Incubator model, we essentially doubled down on the belief that if done in a disciplined way, we can help entrepreneurs launch companies that are successful, profitable, and not hampered by capability debt (debt of suboptimal decisions made for expediency or based on incomplete information, or by wrong people in wrong positions.)  You’ll see the results of that bet start appearing in the public light next quarter so you can judge whether our bet is paying off.

It is from a discipline perspective that I ran into a very curious piece on Chicago digital startup community that appeared in PandoDaily.  It centers around defining the “Midwest Mentality” of pragmatism, as follows:

Pragmatism is defined as dealing with issues on a practical level, rather than a theoretical one. What does this mean in the context of startups? Well, it means that there is no “let’s build a cool tool and then figure out the business model”. No. In fact, if you do that here, you don’t belong. That’s a plain fact that I have found very few people disagree with.

And while the author (Trevor Gilbert) goes on to provide both pros and cons of pragmatism, he spends the majority of the article blasting pragmatism in context of digital startups.  He delves into working hours, missing the point that amount of work doesn’t usually correlate to success.  Those of us with kids don’t just stop working once we go home – I see many of my married with kids counterparts firing up the laptop after their kids are in bed.  But we can debate whether parents working 9pm to midnight is more productive than their single counterparts spending that time having fun at a bar – either is simply anecdotal and should be taken with several grains of salt.  It’d just be nice if Trevor thought to research his arguments a bit more.

And in that failure of discipline, he makes and then fails to expound on the major point of why Chicago startup community is so different from Boston or Silicon Valley:

Without hot startups, you are left with the problem of attracting investment and talent with names observers don’t truly know.

Here Trevor inverts the causality in support of his argument.  That is shoddy at best, sensationalist at heart, and substandard thinking at worst.  The cause of few “hot startups” is not our pragmatism.  It’s the fact that there is a “problem of attracting investment and talent with names observers don’t truly know.”

If Trevor actually listened to the Chicago VC community, their investment dollars usually go to people they have built a relationship with – over several years.  It’s not that talent, intelligence, adaptability, and stick-to-it-itiveness of the idea don’t play a role.  It’s that in order to be rated on these measures, the prospective entrepreneur has to clear a very high barrier to entry of building a relationship with the prospective funders.  Perhaps it’s a throwback to the old Chicago politics paradigm of “we don’t want nobody nobody sent.”  But perhaps it’s not strictly a Chicago issue (here’s a WSJ article bemoaning that fact nationwide), just more pronounced here.  Regardless of cause, this state of affairs limits our city to be the backwater of seed investment dollars.  Either way, I’m not sure that “Midwestern Mentality” has much to do with it.


8 years, 5 months ago

Don’t buy flowers from ReadyFlowers

I usually don’t blog about my personal shopping experience, but a recent experience forced me to publish this post. I travel a lot for business, so for Valentine’s Day I decided to order a bouquet of flowers for my wife. Well knowing that online flower delivery is a trivial online commodity these days, I opened up Google and searched for “flower delivery”. One of the first hits was an allegedly Australian company, ReadyFlowers.com.au, which promoted their special same-day Valentine’s Day delivery of high quality roses. Order before 1pm and the flowers will be delivered the same day all over Australia, the company advertises proudly. Valentine’s Day is on February 14 and I put in my order for “6 long stem premium roses” (product link) on February 13 before lunch. According to ReadyFlowers, everything was all good and on track for delivery:

I was away for business on Valentine’s Day, so I ordered the flowers to be delivered to our apartment in the city as a surprise for my wife when she returned home after a long day at work. The flowers never arrived. I waited for her reaction throughout the day, but nothing happened. When I called her at night, I asked her: “So did the flowers arrive?” Puzzled and surprised she told me that she had not seen even a dry flower leaf at the doorstep.

Actually, the flowers did not arrive the next day – or the following day. On Friday February 17, I received a call from my concierge that somebody had dropped off a bouquet of flowers in the reception. When I got home, this is what I found:

They had sent my wife six small, dry roses without any water (normally, florists deliver flowers with a temporary water container so they remain fresh for the day). They were by no comparison the “six long stem roses” I had ordered. The flower heads were dry and mistreated. The wrapping was crushed. The obviously careless florist had added six dry leaves into the bouquet, most likely to compensate for the lack of fresh flowers and long stems. The greeting card, for which I was asked to add a friendly note during online order, was crushed. My wife’s name was not spelled correctly.

Unsurprisingly, I was furious. Not only had the company decided to charge me AUD $ 90.90 (almost DKK 500) for this pathetic so-called “bouquet” of dry, mistreated roses. They also delivered them three days too late without sending me a single notification of delay. Even half-decent companies send a quick apology and an estimated time of delivery to their clients if orders are stuck or delayed. But ReadyFlowers? Zip, nil, zero, nothing. As I was waiting for the flowers to arrive, I called ReadyFlowers’ so-called customer service centre three times (a 1 800 number) with no luck. Both times I was stuck in the waiting queue as number 23 or 33 with “an estimated holding time of 65 minutes”. Go figure. At least I knew that I was not alone in my pointless endeavour to trace up my missing flower delivery. The third time I called, I was in the queue for 20 minutes before I was diverted to a voice mail with the friendly message that ReadyFlowers had taken their customer service  offline due to a high number of calls! I What kind of company pulls the plug on their customer support during expected peak periods?

Friday, I called the company on the Friday the flowers had arrived. Instead of going into the “enquire about existing orders” I selected the third option for local distributors. This time I got straight through to a ReadyFlowers employee within two minutes. I explained my story and complaint to the customer “service” officer (named Leo) who obviously couldn’t care less about their recent atrocity. I explained to him that I expected them to come and pick up the flowers and that I wanted an immediate refund. Leo, who was probably working in a call centre far away from Sydney, responded that his managers had “left work for today” without any kind of apology or desire to help me. He asked me to send them an email with pictures of the flowers (which I did) and they would get back to me as soon as possible. This, of course, turned out to be a pure scam — five days have gone by without a single reply from the ReadyFlowers service desk. I have sent multiple requests to their support email address – still with no reply.

I can’t emphasise this enough: ReadyFlowers is a scam, a fraudulent company that should be penalised by the ACCC. They simply to not deliver what they promise on their web site and they overcharge their clients for products that do not meet the expected, decent level of quality and timeliness. Save yourself time and money – avoid ReadyFlowers at all costs.

My next step is taking this case to the ACCC, NSW Fair Trading, and, if necessary, the NSW police. 
8 years, 5 months ago

Evolution of a career …

My career started in the true meaning of the word – I found myself careering like a go-cart out of control downhill. It is said that “necessity is the mother of invention”; this applied to my mindset as a teenager faced with the reality that as soon as…

8 years, 5 months ago

The Evolution of the Modern Enterprise Architect

At the Open Group Conference in San Francisco earlier this month Dr. Jeanne Ross from MIT CISR made the statement, “One day the CIO will report to the Enterprise Architect.”   As you can imagine this caused quite the stir within at the conference, and the LinkedIn and Twitterverse started to explode with comments from both…