Sustainable Enterprise Architecture

Sustainable enterprise architecture (EA) will help organisations achieve better sustainable development goals (SDGs). There are many ways to embrace and move towards a holistic sustainable vision. This is a summary of how we can start a sustainable EA.

Multidisciplinary Task Force

EA will be a key enabler for sustainability goals. The breadth of the goals requires multidisciplinary skillsets to setup and design the EA blueprint. Many organisational EA remains in silo and does not draw on existing SME (subject matter expert) for its development of sustainable EA.

Sustainable Framework

You can start to include sustainable framework into your existing EA. Sustainable framework requires higher data visibility of your operational flows. You can enable sustainable checkpoints to your EA. Sometimes, you may need to replace existing framework with sustainable ones for your EA.

Existing EA does not factor SDGs as part of the framework. You may require a multidisciplinary task force to evaluate and review your EA for sustainable purposes. Doing so will involve an upgrade or replacement your EA framework for a sustainable ones.

Cloud Consideration

The Cloud phenomenon is here to stay. Yet, many organisations remained entrenched in traditional department and structures that split into Infrastructure, Security and Application teams. You can easily spot the great divide from the job title and job description (JD) in the job posting. Here is why more change needs to be effected for Cloud.

Organising for Cloud
  • The split between Infrastructure, Security and Application teams must be eliminated and teams will need to structured for Cloud architecture.
  • Cross functional teams needs to be encouraged because Cloud have automated many of traditional infrastructures and security roles.
  • Teams needs to be focused on metering and cost visibility to leverage monitoring of supply and demand with Cloud.
  • Your team must be designed to maximise Cloud functionality using Templates and Enterprise Architecture approach.

Digitalisation and Digital Transformation with Cloud comes with digital mindset and the spirit to change. However, we will continue to see a steep battle for Cloud resources to entangle with traditional Infrastructure, Security and Application. Find your change agent and effect your organizational change! Cloud is a total change, it is not just hiring Cloud!

Book Review: Competing in a Flat World: Building Enterprises for a Borderless World

The article on network orchestrators reminded me of my first book on this topic – Competing in a Flat World: Building Enterprises for a Borderless World. The networked economy and networked effect are research of topic then. This book focus heavily on a case study on the logistics company called Li & Fung. No spoilers below.

Source: Amazon
  • This book provides a case study approach to network orchestration.
  • You can have a look on the complexity world of logistics.
  • Logistics involves a complex network and mesh of tacit and explicit knowledge and relationships.
  • You can see how competitors are no longer a single entities but a network of alliances and coopetitors.
  • Organisation are leaning towards affective factors like brand loyalty, trust and relationships.

Overall, it is a smooth read and not so academic in nature. If you like case study, this is the book for you.

Revenue vs Operational Efficiency

Are you torn between increasing your revenue or improving operational efficiency for your IT budget? There is only a fixed budget size and these objectives are opposite of each other. Often, there is no clear quantitative figures on how much Return On Investment (ROI) can be achieved. Here are some guiding light to let you do a common sense evaluation.

1 User Enhancement

Doing an enhancement for 1 single user is clear indicator that it is not revenue generation worthy. It may not justify the objective of operational efficiency. This type of enhancement will often comes from customer, top management or even compliance. The correct question is “Can this be resolved with other means?”. Do conduct sound ROI evaluation with user base and impact before allocating your budget for such request. Do not be shocked that this is a common fact in many organisations.

Enhancing for Future

Business likes to demand their need on certain “ABCD” features for the future and potential revenue generation. You may be force to implement “ABCD” at such demand only to find the potential revenue generation never materialise. An approach to counteract such whimsical request is to go Agile and do Proof of Concept (POC). This mitigate your investment risk and increase your alignment of the business requirements.

Consult your Data

There is a chance that your data can tell you more than you expected. Flat or negative growth will point that you are in need of revenue generating initiatives. On the other hand, increased resources and continued customisation requests show signs that you may require operational efficiency review.

Data is a two edge sword

There are an increasing trend of data analytics as Cloud technologies have enabled cheaper access to obtain data. Many organisations are scrambling to create and hire data analytics resources. As many are aware, data is always a two edge sword. How should you be managing data correctly? I will show you a simple checklist to evaluate your data awareness.

Favourable Data Checklist
  • Do you have data quality best practices in place?
  • Do you have data sensitive resources?
  • Do you conduct data historical review consistently to review trends and business performance?
Unfavourable Data Checklist
  • Data is as good as what you can record.
  • Dirty data is as good as no data.
  • Data have no meaning when the blind is leading the analysis.

In short, do not jump into the data bandwagon blindly. If you are misleaded by data, you are worst than having no data. Always implement good processes and quality practices to ensure good data quality. Data analytics can only be amplified and fully utilised with good business and IT alignment.

Business IT Alignment Checklist

The innovation have been faster and time to market for products are shorter. Consumers become flicker minded with lower switch costs in eCommerce. However, the gap between between Business and Information Technology (IT) keeps widening. Business IT Alignment is a topic of interest in the field of Information Systems (IS) and Enterprise Architecture. There are plenty of theories and research on this. Here are my short checklist based on my experiences and exposure.

Business IT Alignment Checklist
  1. Do a SWOT analysis (Strength Weakness Opportunities Threats).
  2. Stakeholders Analysis, know who you are dealing with.
  3. Prepare your USP (Unique Selling Preposition).
  4. Be strategic, tactical and operationally ready.
  5. Remember to walk the talk!

It is a simple checklist but it will take years before you are capable to arrive at point 3. Business IT Alignment will need to come from your values and yourself. With shared values, you can build a team and vision. A strong vision will guide you to align common goals with business.

Architectural Thinking 101

I recently took an Enterprise Architecture (EA) course and find Architectural Thinking very refreshing. It is worth to provide my two cents worths and an introductory view because many of us are caught up in the details of system development.

What is Architectural Thinking?

The first thing that Architectural Thinking that comes into my mind is the Building Architecture. Like a building, architect plans and design the construction and utilisation of the space within a site. There are also considerations of human elements, environment and aesthetics. Similarly, Architectural Thinking is the mindset to consider the design of business and IT domains. It also align the business goals and strategic drivers so that IT landscapes can adapt and respond to changes.

Challenges

Theoretically, Architectural Thinking is a perfect approach to transform your organisation into a architectural centric fit between business and technology. In reality, the transformation is complex due to disparate data, stakeholders, system and environments. The course outlines a systematic blueprint to addresses these challenges and implement Architecture Thinking with Architecture Development Method (ADM). Another way is to adopt Cloud technologies to manage your architectural framework (see Helping Enterprise Architecture (EA) be Agile with Cloud).

Checklist

Overall, a simple checklist is sufficient to check if your organisation is ready for Architectural Thinking.

  1. Do you have an Enterprise Centric strategy?
  2. Do you have blueprint Architectural Diagram for business and IT?
  3. Do you have stakeholder maps?
  4. Is there guidelines in developing your Architecture?

For many cases, your organisation could be in stage of discovery in this digital transformation era. It may be worth to be systematic and consider investing your resources with Architectural Thinking. You could also check the reference source – Combining Design Thinking with Architectural Thinking.

Helping Enterprise Architecture (EA) be Agile with Cloud

Strategic and Operational excellence are key objectives for many organisations. It is difficult for organisations to achieve both at the same time. Most organisations tends to focus on one or another, investing resources in either one. Business often emphasis strategic needs while IT focus on operational excellence. There comes a period where an organization needs to bridge these objectives together. Enterprise Architecture (EA) is one such bridge to bring these two objectives together.

Enterprise Architecture (EA)

Enterprise Architecture (EA) aims to provide a holistic view of business and IT with the aim of aligning strategic and operational excellence. It aims to provide a bridge between business and IT with standardized EA framework of common vocabulary, models, tools and content metamodel. However, the notion of EA can be very far fetched and ideal to reality because many of EA program are abstract and conceptual in nature.

Agile and EA

The practices of EA runs contrary to the discipline of Agile. Huge efforts are expended to standardize and collate information at Enterprise level losing sight of Agility. Traditional EA ultimately fails to deliver because it is not able to address the business needs timely. Enterprise strategy become obsolete and irrelevant as technologies innovate faster and faster. As EA continue to remain coupled to traditional waterfall, Agile methods gradually become the mainstay for adapting to business excellence.

How can Cloud help EA be Agile?

Thus, we have seen huge gap of EA in being Agile. Luckily, this can be addressed by Cloud technologies. Any system within cloud platform can be quickly be viewed holistically and automatically be generated as a blueprint of EA. Cloud technologies have also retain its Agile capabilities to fit strategic innovations for business while fulfilling operational excellence.