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How relevant is your enterprise architecture to the New Style of IT?

By:  John Bennett, Applications Transformation Marketing, Enterprise Services, Hewlett Packard Company


stool.jpgLink to article:  Systems of Engagement: IT Architecture in Transition


Noted author and strategist Geoffrey Moore recently posted an article on LinkedIn, titled Systems of Engagement: IT Architecture in Transition.  This stirred my interest, as HP has been working to enhance its enterprise architecture frameworks and tools, along with its transformation framework, to align and supporting the new style of IT.


In his article Mr. Moore makes the distinction between traditional client-server architectures and those needed to support systems of engagement.  He writes, “Systems of engagement represent a second architecture, one that developed independently from the client-server stack, and enterprise IT leaders now must find a way to interface the two.”


HP would refer to this as Infrastructure Architecture, one of the three legs of Enterprise Architecture (EA), the other two being Business Architecture and Information Architecture.


The challenge isn’t just at the traditional IT architecture level.  The challenge reaches into application and solution development approaches. Gartner analysts referred to this as “the two speeds of IT” at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo® 2013.  These systems of engagement rely on Cloud for delivery, which means security comes into play.  They rely on the traditional back end systems and applications, the systems of record, which in turn rely on SOA, service-enablement, or libraries of APIs to provide access to data and services where needed.


We also need, perhaps. a new vocabulary.  Not only is the legacy architecture ill-suited for the new style of IT, it takes far too much to adapt. Why a new vocabulary?  Because the answers to some basic questions are very different for the new style of IT.  What is customer experience? Indeed, what is a transaction?  What do we mean by customer or employee interaction?


And the need for a new vocabulary may reflect a need for new methods.  How do you organize for the highly fragmented reality we need to manage?  How do you let 1,000 flowers blossom … and identify those worth harvesting? Different interaction types need different infrastructures, most likely need new methods, may even need new business processes.  What architectural styles support these new interactions?   


I would argue that to deal effectively with the new style of IT, you need to holistically manage it from a complete enterprise architecture perspective, one that encompasses all three of these legs (Business, Information and Infrastructure) at each level of abstraction (strategy, structure, operations.  Furthermore, I’d argue that these three legs enable the true value of enterprise architecture.  The true value lies in the chair, not each individual leg.


So what is that value of Enterprise Architecture?  Well, it’s certainly not a set of frameworks and artefacts that sit on a shelf.  Nor is it something that EA’s can bang program and project leaders over the head with.  They’re necessary but not sufficient.


Done well, Enterprise Architecture provides the foundation for making effective decisions:  decisions about what projects to invest in based on how well they support the business strategies and goals of the organization.  It helps determine how much to invest in them based on the expected incremental business benefits realized from that investment.  It guides you as to when to invest in them based on the broad portfolio of choices and ideas and innovations coming forth from business and IT leaders alike. 


Using EA this way means you make the right decisions for the business based on the business strategy and not on “coolness.”  Most important, the combination of EA and business strategy come together to help the EA determine where technology innovations can very quickly lead to interesting business opportunities.  In short, you want to decide like Mr. Spock, not act like Captain Kirk (for all you Star Trek fans). 


With the pace of innovation and change associated with the new style of IT, with the sheer volume of innovations taking place in both technology and services, you need both enterprise architecture and governance methods that not only keep you in the game, but give you a good chance of winning it.


What do you think?


Other items by John Bennett:


Related links: 


About the author


John Bennett.jpgJohn Bennett, Applications Transformation Marketing, Enterprise Services, Hewlett Packard Company

John has been with HP for over 30 years.  He is responsible for pan-HP Enterprise Services Applications Modernization and Transformation Consulting Services marketing.  Before joining HP Enterprise Services, John led the development and marketing of the HP Data Center Transformation Solution.  Based in Massachusetts, he has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and a Master of Science in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and an MBA from Clark University.

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Global product marketing manager for HP Enterprise Services SAP Services

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