It’s probably no surprise to all of you that there has been a significant amount of talk about Business Architecture in recent years. Just coming back from the Open Group Conference in San Francisco it was one of the key topics for practitioners. However, with all the buzz, is Business Architecture really ready for prime time? This is a real and very legitimate question.
Separating fact, fiction and pure buzz is an important data point for Enterprise Architects. We all but learned our lesson from similar buzz worthy topics like SOA and Cloud. So needless to say, diverting energy into unproven spaces or trends is a very risky business. EA’s must continually add value back to the company and must be very judicious with their time. Most EA departments if not all that I talk to, just don’t have time to experiment on trends or fads.
So what does this mean for Business Architecture?
I believe that business architecture has been one of those topics that has always been here but has gotten very little attention until now. Seemingly Business Architecture seems like a new discipline but it isn’t. In a previous post titled, Defining Business Architecture I talked not only about what is business architecture but also some history around it. What I talk about is how Business Architecture is actually been here for quite some time. You can find evidence of it in the beginnings of the EA frameworks. While “true” EA was in its infancy so was Business Architecture component of it. During that time most things that occurred in the technology space were mostly just that, technology focused. I believe that for many reasons that was the correct thing to do based on where we were at in our industry, limited maturity of our discipline, our capabilities that we could offer and the rudimentary and basic profile of the technology landscape. Simply put…
Crawl, Walk and Run.
Enterprise Architecture Evolution… How do we get to Running?
Times have certainly changed and so has IT and along with it EA. This industry has matured and along with that maturity comes more sophistication. Up-leveling what we do has a goal of bringing more value to our customers. What we have found is that delivering context-less technology widgets are just not delivering the right level of value to add to the capabilities of our businesses.
With all this said, I believe that Business Architecture is still at the beginning of its journey. I do think that we have come a long way with establishing the need and the value but there is still a great deal of work to be done to get Business Architecture formed as a fully standard practice. We see this be just looking back, from largely ignoring it in 2000’s to shifting that in the 2010’s and addressing it as a key focal point of EA.
So if we look at some common mental frames for calibrating where we are at out where things are at in the industry we could use Geoffrey Moore’s, Crossing the Chasm as a way to gauge where we at. And if I look at that model I would say you were still in the chasm however we are quickly coming out of it.
So what is that me, it means that we are seeing evidence of organizations outside of early adopters and innovators actually using Business Architecture to solve real-world problems in the next class of individuals and organizations are for two as the early majority. We're starting to see a lot of this in the industry.
But also let’s talk a look outside my anecdotal points with the customers and look at what we see from the analyst community as well. We see strong evidence of this as well. As an example, Gartner conducted a double blind 2011 worldwide survey and a 2012 survey of EA summit attendees in the US and Europe, Gartner finds that the vast majority of organizations are focusing their EA efforts on how they can drive business value (including IT), not just on driving IT decisions.
Source: Gartner (2012): Gartner Hype Cycle 2012
Based in the above shows that Gartner finds that 67% of organizations are either: starting (39%), restarting (7%) or renewing(21%) their EA efforts. By the way, they also note that they know that many of the organizations that state that they are "starting EA for the first time" are actually "restarting" because we have talked to them in the past - it is just that the current EA leaders don't know that there previous efforts.
The analyst are the only ones reporting on this activity. We have independent bodies of knowledge that have sprung up that are continuing to try to crack this business architecture did not. A couple of the most popular ones include:
And of course behind that comes vendor practices and boutique consulting practices.
With this flurry of activity from real customers, vendors, analysts and standards bodies alike, Business Architecture is very real and is a discipline within Enterprise Architecture that needs some serious focus.