So Many Different Views, So Much Business Architecture Confusion

Mike The Archtiect Blog: Business Architecture There certainly is no shortage of opinions in the industry around business architecture. This spans from what it is the definition of Business Architecture to how one would implement followed by the skills and competencies needed to successfully execute.

It can be overwhelming for anyone that is new to this space. Wrapping your mind around the fact and fiction is lengthy and sometimes down right frustrating. This is mainly due to where the Business Architecture discipline is at. I discuss this further in my post, “Business Architecture Ready For Prime Time”.

The second largest contributor to this is all the different views and opinions coming from the marketplace at large. From vendors to consultancies to analysts and even people like myself that blog about such topics and all of these positions are coming at the problem from a different angle.

Can it be more difficult?  Hopefully I can help.

How Do I Better Understand Business Architecture

Before we get into the weeds it important to understand a few things.

There isn’t necessarily a who’s right and who’s wrong solution here. I think of the problem of understanding Business Architecture positioning as a matter of perspective. Let’s assume all have the best intentions but have a certain set of biases, constraints, incentives and motivations. While there is more drivers, these are the major ones.

So to better deal with these dynamics I suggest using a mental frame for thinking about these contrasting and or conflicting opinions. When I look at the this market, I segment where the opinions or positions are coming from. I then look to understand the motivations for their opinion and start to form a classification mechanism so it's easier to understand their perspectives.

Mike The Architect Blog: Business Architecture Vendor COnsultant Analyst Standards Persectives Mental Framework

As shown above you will find such an activity. What you see below is how slice and dice the major voices in the business architecture world. I carve off 4 major perspectives that include:

  • Analysts
  • Standards Bodies
  • Vendors
  • Consultancies

There is a problem with the model…

You will notice a very key source missing. That would be the actual end organizations accountable and responsible for this effort. While there are pockets where this perspective is represented, this voice is largely missing. I would assume this is due to the fact that they are too busy adding value in their organizations rather than just talking about it at conference or on a blog.


Walking the Model

The image above is a high-level representation of how to split the different perspectives that you may encounter using the model that I’ve created.



This perspective is interesting as it does have some very unique qualities to it. It’s important to really understand the drivers behind the position asserted here. Analysts got through a very rigorous vetting process and they are very good at what they do, analyze the market space. They are not practitioners(anymore) and have very little “skin in the game” when it comes to actual results with end customers. However, they have one very strong attribute that trumps other perspectives, their rich data and hypothesis or predictions they make with that data. This data is a vital aspect to the decision making process.

  • Time Horizon of Guidance: Past 1 year to 5 years in the future
  • Perspective: Broad Industry Thought Leading 
  • Context of Guidance: Prediction Based
  • Can be used for: evidence of a position, understanding the market landscape, understanding your peers in the industry and general advisory


Standards Bodies

Often times when looking at the perspectives of a standards body you are looking at one in which is the most grounded in the day to day reality. The goal of most standards bodies is to articulate practices that are proven in the industry. This is what I refer to as the “safety net”. As an example, The Open Group currently has 465 company memberships that represent HQs in 38 countries! Each one of these companies has a say and a vote on what gets ratified as a standard. That is one great vetting process.

  • Time Horizon of Guidance: Past 5 years to 1 year future
  • Perspective: Broad Industry Proven Practice
  • Context of Guidance: Evidence Based
  • Can be used for: practical implementation, provides a safety net or "insurance policy" for making decision on what has worked for customers world-wide, faster time to market on standards and reference architectures



Another unique perspective here is that of our vendors. While this isn’t always true, most times it is, vendors base their opinions on the ability to drive services and products. After all that’s their business. I find that this perspective isn’t bad or wrong it’s actually a very good one as it can connect the broader more ethereal perspectives back down to reality with implementable tooling.

  • Time Horizon of Guidance: Past 1 year to 3-5 years in the future
  • Perspective: Thought Leading based on enabling a capability. Usually technical in nature.
  • Context of Guidance: Immediate and Near Future Market Needs
  • Can be used for: advice and tools for automation, deep coverage of a functional or capability area



Consultancies are similar to vendors in many regards with one small tweak, I usually find that services companies don’t share their opinions in detail. This is largely to their business model. They monetize their knowledge (intellectual property) and services. So if you do hire a services / consultancy firm I personally find extremely high quality material but you have to purchase it to get a hold of it.

  • Time Horizon of Guidance: Past 5 years to 2 years in the future
  • Perspective: Proven practice and some leading practice (largely depends on the type of consultancy)
  • Context of Guidance: Evidence based in the context of a specific offering by the firm
  • Can be used for: evidence of a position, understanding the market landscape, understanding your peers in the industry and general advisory



Hopefully with this mental frame it helps reduce the confusion in the marketplace. You probably noticed that I didn’t give you my personal opinions on specific perspective areas or sources, I don’t think that is productive as each of those sources has it own set of drivers for making those assertions. Rather than doing that I would rather arm you with the tools I use to form my opinions so that you can do the same. 

I find that it helps me in the following ways:

  1. Keeps me Calibrated. Keeps me a sanity check when I’m reading material so that I can properly consume the information I am reading.
  2. Go Deeper. I know what questions I need to ask myself or to the perspective that is sending messages my way. That allows me to ask the right questions to form my own opinion.
  3. Ability to Rationalize. I can better classify information and thus use it more effectively
  4. Effective Communication. I can more effectually use the information in my communication to my peers, customers or partners
  5. More Effective Decision Making. By understanding these perspectives I can leverage the information in a fit-for-purpose way thus reducing the risks of mistakes and mishaps.