Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Enterprise Architecture is Dead, Long Live Enterprise Transformation!

Ask anyone on the street about Architecture and they'll describe something big, expensive, sturdy, built-to-last, shiny, glitzy, beautiful, took years to build etc. Taj Mahal. Eiffel Tower. Empire State Building. Sydney Opera House.
And ask them to describe IT or the Digital Economy of today they are likely to use words like agile, changing, quick, economical, user driven, Instant gratification etc.
Houston, we've got a problem!
The name of our profession has not kept pace with the expectations from it.Some would say, What's in a name? Rose is a rose is a rose......
This may be the answer to what I asked in another post Why is Enterprise Architecture sitting out the DIGITAL Party?
Ask a marketer though and they'll say having the right name is like being halfway to winning the battle for the customers minds(Chilean Seabass is a delectable delicacy at many high-end restaurants, it was not exactly flying off the grill when it was called Patagonian Toothfish. Who wants a tooth in a meal!)
Let's not be flippant about it though. There is considerable research to show a name matters:
  • The name influences the perceptions about a thing which then influences the expectations from it which then in a feedback loop influences the way the people who are part of the group view themselves, behave and deliver.
Need of the hour is rebranding ourselves as Enterprise Transformation:
  • The business environment is dynamic and constantly evolving.Technological Disruptions are the name of the game and are here to stay. Systems and processes need to be responsive to the constant change. The days when people expected to build gold plated systems and processes which lasted forever are gone. The need is not for expensive "well-architected" last forever solutions but "transformable" solutions that not only cost less to build but are cheaper to re-purpose, refurbish or even throwaway.With the pace of technological progress so fast why would you wed yourself to a technology or technical architecture which will be obsolete before it is fully built?
  • Architecture is static. Sounds like something which starts on a clean slate. While what we do primarily deals with existing systems and processes which need transformation.
  • Architecture is a noun. Transformation is a verb. It is an action word.Transformation implies motion, Architecture sounds like something ready to be put on the shelf.
  • The Business is already alive to this problem. Most organizations have teams named as and tasked with "Business Transformation". More often than not on the IT side they are paired with "Enterprise Architecture". To drive home the shared objectives and close alignment with the business it is logical that the team on IT side have the T-word in its name.
  • Perception Drives Reality. Building a better mousetrap i.e. being good at what we do is not enough. No sense hanging the sign "Great Mousetrap Builder" outside our shop when the customers are looking for "Cat".
Note that I am not talking about just renaming but "Rebranding" which implies focused efforts and initiatives to communicate a repositioning of our objectives in alignment with the new environmental realities, closely aligned with the business.
And I am not the only one seeing the winds of change (tsunami?) headed our way.
Jason Bloomberg says
Let’s simply cross off all references to EA from the org chart and corresponding business cards. Instead, let’s call the EA team the Center of Digital Excellence. Catchy, eh? It even comes with a handy if somewhat ironic acronym: CODE.
In a recent note CEB talks about:
EA, as a function, is still relatively young. Many groups were initially created because their enterprises were reaching new levels of size and complexity. They were established to fight cost and inefficiency, and still remain true to the objective of protecting the architecture.
But EA now faces new and growing pressures. The rise of non-traditional competitors, as well as changes in stakeholders' expectations for technology, have caused many groups to rethink how they drive value within the organization.
One way of driving value would be to align our nomenclature with a key value driver - Transformation.
Now this may rankle some of the purists. Many among us have got used to the word "Architecture" in our titles and may wonder - What would I be called if not an Architect? Well, what about Enterprise Transformation Expert or Enterprise Transformation Specialist.
And if you are the flamboyant kind who can live up to a really flashy title, how about "The Transformer" .
Enterprise Architecture is Dead, Long Live Enterprise Transformation!

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