It has been a few years since I have attended this event but this year I had the great opportunity to go to the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Conference. This year it was held from 20 - 23 May in National Harbor, MD.
Gartner presented its latest research from the past year, recommendations and best practices from their many years of research. This year was a record breaking year for Gartner with an all time high of attendance. With year over year growth, this shows not only the value of this conference but also of Enterprise Architecture. Another point of note is that the majority of the practitioners represent the financial services and healthcare verticals respectively. These two industries continue to show strong support for EA.
Building on several research notes and toolkits, Business Outcome Driven Enterprise Architecture was the theme for this year. The theme builds on the notion that Enterprise Architecture should continue to evolve out of the IT Architecture centric approach (only focusing on technology or applications) and move into a top-down centric approach. I couldn’t agree more.
While this isn't a necessarily a new concept, it was certainly good to see Gartner continue to push this. I believe it’s the right direction for EA as I am sure most of you do too. I talked about this in my keynote at the Open Group Conference in 2011. I like Gartner, talked about what the future of EA may look like. It’s eerily in line with my keynote presentation called, The New World of Enterprise Architecture. Below are the characteristics of that new EA:
There are more descriptions of Enterprise Architecture as a whole but these are the key characteristics of the new world of Enterprise Architecture.
- Enterprise Transformation – EA is now and in the future focusing at the enterprise level and emerging out of the project and program level. This is necessary change to get the proper breadth to ensure that solutions are aligned to the business objectives but also maximized for the whole of the company rather than a specific function or business unit.
- Innovation for Growth – Enterprise Architects will provide innovation services to the enterprise by distilling key market trends from a business and technology perspective. An example of this is the effect that mobility or cloud computing has on specific business models.
- More than Technology – EA is often confused with IT architecture but EA is much more than technology and primarily focused on providing value for the business.
- Meaningful Business Partnerships – We use the words align business to IT. For EA’s it’s much more. EA’s must partner with the business. This means we don’t just distill a set of goals and objectives but we work with the business to rationalize, challenge, propose and aid in the business transformation activities.
- Corporate Sustainability – EA’s play a key role in ensuring the long term success of the business through the enterprise capabilities and solutions we enable. Companies will start to use EA as an insurance policy once we are able to prove this model in a consistent way.
- Drive through Emotional Intelligence – This is a key theme for enterprise architects. It allows EA’s to have the social and emotional intelligence to lead an organization from these key characteristics.
While it’s not completely brand new, it doesn’t have to be as this notion is still maturating. With all the business driven EA industry research, articles and guidance out there it’s tough to calibrate what is working and what isn’t for some time now what Gartner has provided a great deal of evidence behind this continuing shift in Enterprise Architecture.
The evidence of this shift, as Philip Allega points out is that 1.1 trillion dollars of IT spend is influenced by Enterprise Architects. Philip challenged the audience to see how much each of us can continue to affect that pie.
The salient points from the conference includes:
- EA Matters – Attendance and customer case studies shows that EA does matter and it is alive and well. It is continuing to evolve and hit rough patches but we are still seeing business value in pursuing.
- Think like Your Business – If you think like them, you will get them what they need to be successful. All EA’s and even IT is part of a business ecosystem all dependant on each other with a role. Focusing on the ultimate business outcome will ensure you are providing value back to the the overall business and not talking in business speak just for the sake of it.
- EA's Should "Tried and True" Techniques - EA's will continue to use traditional tools such as roadmaps to manage the change with trends like big data
- Emerging Markets - With Brazil, Russia, India and China or BRIC make up a total of 29% of the worlds GDP. EA's have a unique position to enable these very complex ecosystems. For more on my views on this check out a post from ‘09 called, “Is Architecture Different Based on Where You Live?”
- Risk and Compliance - The world is flat or at least flattening. With this world economics and government policy matters to you.
- Disruptive Technology Continues to Surprise Us – With emerging disruptions like Gamification, they continue to challenge and grow the enterprise. The trick now is to understand the concept of disruptive forces and create models to manage it to then harness the innovation. Gartner predicts that by 2015 40% of global 1000 companies will use gamification as a strategy.