Remember way back, when I wrote this, “Predictions for Enterprise Architecture in 2020”? What better way to start off a revisited series than with a prediction post. This one reflects on my musings from almost a decade ago! I thought it would be interesting to score how well I predicted the EA market 8 years into the future.

In hindsight, I’ve realized through my travels that predictions that far out are almost always are going to be wrong.

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
–Nils Bohr, Nobel laureate in Physics

This quote and many quotes like it serves as a warning that a lot can happen in just a few years much less 10 years!

What I’ll do is attempt to be as objective as possible and give a letter grade to each prediction based on where we are at today here in 2020. Since there will be some subjectivity to this, I thought it would be wise to have a few guiding assumptions before we dive into this.

Guiding Assumptions

  1. Considers the overall market not just the leaders or laggards.
  2. This is focused on what is occurring within organizations and separates advise given by bloggers, analysts, or consultants.
  3. Made the predictions clearer but the intent remains the same.
  4. The “Accuracy Grade” is NOT based on a formal or statistical model but rather a qualitative assessment based on market observations.

Along with some assumptions I would also like to remove quite a bit of the clutter from the original post. When I re-read this post is that I’m finding I was a bit all over the map on this one. I crammed WAY too much into this post. Here’s all the aspects to this post:

  • Part 1 – Troux Conference Recap
  • Part 2 – CIO role insights
  • Part 3 – Predictions
  • Part 4 – Recommendations and Advice

So, for simplicity, I’m going to keep this to the predictions and drop the rest.

Side Note: The first part of this post is all about being a panelist on an extinct enterprise architecture tool called Troux. It’s too bad, they had some great ideas on how to advance the EA industry.

Mike’s Prediction Scorecard

Prediction Accuracy Grade Rationale
Prediction 1: EA will be business, not technology driven.

A

There may be some of you that say, “well, Mike… EA was always business driven”. While I agree whole heartily, where I disagree is in its implementation. Very few EA teams pre 2012 were actually driven from a business perspective.

With all of EA’s challenges I think that there is universal consensus in the industry that EA follows the direction of the corporate business strategy to determine what to focus on.

From my time at Gartner, we coined the term “Business Outcome Driven Enterprise Architecture”. Since then you will find others have done the same.

Prediction 2: EA will recognize emotional intelligence as a foundational skill.

A

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is vital for an Enterprise Architects personal and professional success. My opinion hasn’t changed from those expressed in these posts ( “IQ isn’t Enough, EA’s Must Balance EQ with IQ”, It’s Not About How Smart You Are, “Effective Communication is Vital to an Enterprise Architects Success”, and finally “A Fool with a Tool, is Still a Fool”)As many of you have seen in my ramblings about the essential nature of having a high EQ, I think it’s finally sticking in a material way.

For those that are not “sold” or recognize I’ve found that people can only improve their EQ only if they are truly willing to change.

Gandhi said it best, “you must be the change you wish to see”.

Prediction 3: The disciplines of IT architecture will diverge from EA.

B-

I’ve found that most EA programs (especially the earlier ones) have started in some form of an IT architecture program. That is ok, you have to start somewhere.

While back in 2012 and earlier it might have been more of a debate. Today in 2020, most (if not all) EA’s agree there is a difference.

I knocked this grade down to a B- because I think most agree that EA and ITA are different, not all of them have completely divided the two in a material way.

Prediction 4: Enterprise architecture will move out of IT.

D

I have yet to see this really happen outside of isolated cases. EA for the thousands of companies I’ve talked to in the past 10 years still largely report into the CIO’s organization.
Prediction 5: Increased focus on innovation and new business models.

B+

This is a major trend in Enterprise Architecture. Innovation and Digital Transformation is a vital component of what leading EA organizations are doing right now.

When I was at Gartner we created a notion that there are two modes that Enterprise Architecture can operate in.

  • Foundational EA (Mode 1) focuses on the existing IT estate — renovating its core and focusing on legacy applications, technical debt, and systems of record and differentiation.
  • Vanguard EA (Mode 2) focuses on technology innovation — practically applying new and emerging technologies to create new business designs and business models.

Universally, most (if not all) EA advisory firms and consultancies are saying this is the path forward for EA. Most EA organizations I talk to agree on that direction.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, 40% of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies.

Prediction 6: EA will leverage “enterprise portfolio management” as a clearer way to drive decisions.

C

While I’m confident that no one would dispute this approach as an ideal way of managing decisions, I find that it is rare to find this occurring broadly. One of the largest barriers to this prediction is that it really requires organizations to acquire an EA tool. That’s not always in the cards for organizations.
Prediction 7: EA will have a clear definition and purpose.

C+

My observation here is that we still have quite a bit of work to do here. My time at Gartner had enabled me to talk with thousands of EA organizations and I can tell you firsthand that there is a lot of variability. Some for good reasons, some for bad reasons and everything in between.

One of the major contributors of this in my opinion is the YAFF syndrome. YAFF meaning, “Yet Another F*%^ing Framework”. The reason for the “F Bomb” here is that there are approximately 40 EA frameworks in the wild. Further complicating this is the number of analysts and consultancies providing advice.

Prediction 8: EA will operationalize as a set of repeatable management consulting services.

C+

I think this as a trend is emergent in nature. I’ve seen leading organizations with a high EA maturity really embrace this concept though. While those in lower maturity levels aspire to achieve this. I would expect to see further adoption in years to come.Gartner has gotten in on this as well with their research note, “Predicts 2019: Enterprise Architecture Evolves Into an Internal Management Consultancy“. You will find that Gartner predicts that by 2022, 80% of business architects will work directly for business leaders, positioning EA as an internal management consultancy.

This position of theirs ties into both prediction 8 and “Prediction 4: Enterprise architecture will move out of IT”. To be very honest with you, I’m very skeptical of the part of the prediction that ties to moving under business leaders. We’ve got 2 years to find out!

Prediction 9: EA will primarily focus on value realization.

B+

Value realization (or sometimes referred to business outcomes) really should have always been the goal. Even though John Zachman prescribed this in his EA ontology all those years ago, in the 90’s in early 2000’s we lost our way a little bit.

With the major events like 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and now the global COVID-19 pandemic it’s been a stark reminder for EA to focus on what matters most.

Prediction 10: EA competency models and certifications will be largely standardized.

C

I created an “Enterprise Architecture Certification Guide” that distilled all the certification landscape in a cohesive way. I gave this prediction a C because I was hoping for the industry to continue to evolve to a more established place. It seems that EA is still largely the same.

While I think some of the “go to” competency-based certifications have grown over time. There is still evidence of fragmentation and ultimately misunderstanding what is a core certification and perhaps a supporting certification. This is exemplified by this CIO article: 2 certifications for enterprise architects where there are mostly technical and solution architect based certifications.

If you are interested in my experience with certifications, look here at my post, “It’s Official, I’m a Level 3 Chief Architect with Open CA”

Conclusion

Overall, the guidance I provided from 2012 holds up fairly well. There was a healthy mix of advice along with predictions so I’m going to trim this down a bit along with providing the top three rather than all of them.

If there are other posts that you feel should be included in this series, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll queue these up and consider revisiting them for this series.

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