CIO’s Must Make Enterprise Architecture a First Class Citizen

I am really liking the new string of articles and posts on The New World of Enterprise Architecture as I am calling it. It seems like the tone and the perceptions of Enterprise Architecture is slowly changing from pessimistic to optimistic on what EA should or could be. 

This brings me to this post, this is an important topic in that it get's to the heart of the "top down" organizational challenges.

You see that in recent series of blog posting from Dan Woods. In a more recent post called "Why CIOs Fail at Increasing Awareness Through Enterprise Architecture", he discusses that the CIO role must change. I mostly agree and would extend this a little bit more. Thanks for getting this out Dan, I think you hit the nail on the head.

Here are my general thoughts and observations based on my experience and industry observations in talking to CxO's around the world through Microsoft and out executive briefings:

  • The CTO is referenced. I do not think that the CTO (at least how I define it) should be part of this equation. Just the CIO. The CTO is the Chief Technology Officer not the Chief Information Officer. If we look at these role names and what they do, they operate in different spheres. 
  • I think we should give credit where credit is due. There is a transformation happening as we speak. I think this article could be spun in a much more positive light as we are seeing major players like Dell, USAA and others that have publicly talked about how they are business before technology all the way at the top levels of IT. Not only that, they are making investments in those areas. Again, noting wrong with the broader current state analysis. 
  • Use just enough EA but don't over do it. EA just like anything is a very specific domain (e.g., ITIL = Operations or PMBOK = Project Management) Use the right tool for the right job, it doesn't mean however you can't leverage core principles or even elements of each to solve a problem.

In his post he gives a bit of a current state of the CIO and CTO. I think it relatively accurate with the outside few of CIO's that are more advanced than others. Ultimately it's representative of the industry. 

While it seems strange, most CIOs and CTOs (which I refer to collectively as CITOs) live in a state of limited awareness out of fear. CITOs are more comfortable running operations, evaluating technology, and developing new solutions than they are attempting to understand how and why the businesses use the systems they create. CITOs lack the temperament for the fuzzy world of business processes, and also lack the skills. If CITOs do start poking around, asking questions, developing metrics about how a business process is run, they will most likely be greeted by, “Why don’t you go do your job instead of measuring how I do mine?”

 

I think his assessment is pretty good but I think we can distill some more out of it and add a few more characteristics of the CIO:

  1. Mode of Operation from Reactive to Proactive – This is the fundamental behavior in IT that has to change. 
  2. Move from Order Takers to Collaborators – CIO's should help the business in a very collabrative manner not just take orders from them.
  3. Run IT as a Business – There is a lot to learn here and a tremendous opportunity if more CIO's looked at IT as a Business Unit. As eluded to by Dave, a business not only creates new products and services but it also has to optimized it portfolio of products as well. And while CIO's do embark on modernization or optimization projects, it is usually a surface level technology optimization and not a true business optimization effort (e.g., desktop upgrades shifts to a business solution centric capability upgrade that may or may not involve a desktop upgrade, it could be mobility is the key.)
  4. Make EA a First Class Citizen – Right now it is getting close, but not there yet. The EA charter is to help in the key areas of concern. Don't just say you are doing EA, institutionalize it!

 

For all this to occur there usually needs to be some catalyst. I come from the Financial Services space so I know this well. While there isn't a specific EA regulation like there is in the Public Sector / Government there is however, a strong lean towards EA. So you see very strong ties to EA as a result.

I agree with Dan's assessment that something has to happen (i.e, a crisis) but I think there are other entry points as well. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Regulation – If there is significant risk and deemed to be regulatory this change will happen fast and will up level a industry at a time to a capability level.
  2. Industry Tipping Point -Momentum in the industry makes this a forgone conclusion that this is what needs to happen. Global mind share is acquired.  
  3. Viewed as a TRUE Competitive Differentiator – Right now this isn't the case broadly, but some companies are getting it. When this is made much more obvious this could be a catalyst for change as well.
  4. Legal Implications – I always say, once someone is sued or put on the front page of the Wall Street Journal change happens pretty quick. I think this is true here as well. 

I do not see any evidence that IT will magically come up with this either by inwardly looking at itself nor comparing to the failures in IT overall. IT has already had an extremely poor track record with little broad and pervasive movement in this space.

But at some point, something really bad or really good happens. In a crisis, politics can get set aside as everyone takes a deep breath and focuses on how to make the business survive. In good times, a similar thing can happen in which the glow of success makes everyone feel secure. 

I also fully agree with Dan's statement shown below, as I stated above, that CIO's must make Enterprise Architecture a first class citizen.

What can we do about this?” CITOs should answer the call by suggesting the application of an established enterprise architecture methods. One of them is TOGAF, developed by The Open Group,  a consortium of IT users and suppliers that develops standards facilitating Boundaryless Information Flow™.

 

I wouldn't necessarily make everyone use an architecture method as it's not right for all problems. However, can we get people to think more like architects, yes! Can we get people to understand why we need architecture, yes! Can we get more people to appreciate the methods, activities, deliverables and key outcomes EA's wish to achieve, yes!

So with the comments around TOGAF, it's a starting point.

Use TOGAF to:

  1. Get a common vocabulary within the enterprise
  2. Obtain an understanding of how deliverables / documents achieve business outcomes
  3. Level set on why we do specific methods
  4. Think business first
  5. Appreciate the rigor and science involved in Enterprise Architecture
  6. Establish and leverage at multiple levels practices that scale to most problem areas like: Trade-Off Analysis, Risk Management and Transformation

So for me, I think Dan is right and what is shows it there is a great deal of opportunities that the CIO can leverage from the EA' by making them a first class citizen. They can also gain insights by shifting a portion of the way they think to be more architecturally grounded and not just technology.

More at Source: http://blogs.forbes.com/ciocentral/2011/06/23/why-cios-fail-at-increasing-awareness-through-enterprise-architecture/ 

 

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