Monday, 20 September 2010

Why the EA isn't ready for #E20

As an enterprise Architect, I like to think in little cubicles. Not the 10 square feet cubicles as depicted above, but more like this one:

If you look closely at the TOGAF picture (feel free to click and magnify) you'll see the cornerstones of an enterprise: Principles, Strategy, Objectives, Drivers, Vision, Goals and Measures even, and on the other hand: Business, Technology, Information Systems, Stakeholders

Missing something there? Well there also are Organisation, Location, Actors and Roles, Processes, Events, Controls, Products, Functions.
Still missing something?

Where's the customer?

In IT, we've always assumed that the Business represents the customer. The Business knows best what the Customer wants. Sales does what's best for the customer, Marketing does what's best for the customer, the helpdesk does what's best for the customer, we all do what's best for the customer. Sales always tells us the customer is very pleased, Marketing always tells us the customer is very pleased, even the Helpdesk always tells us the customer is very pleased

Now, with Social media disrupting this enterprise like nothing before, don't we need to change the model? Where is the (Social?) Customer in this Architecture?
  • What kind of Architecture does the Customer have?
  • What kind of Architecture does the Customer need?
  • What kind of Architecture can your company offer the Customer?
  • Don't we need another few cubes for the Customer inhere?
You know, one of the worst things I've witnessed in my dozen+ years of "Enterprise Life" is within governmental or semi-governmental institutions, or bureacracies even. There, the IT department sometimes calls the Business customer. "The customer this..., ...the customer that" etcetera. I was surprised, confused when I first heard it. After a while, I became a bit miffed. It was used as just another argument to persist silly ideas "Nono, the customer really wants this" was an opinion I heard too often - it really made me sick at some occasions. "We must serve the customer as best as we can" - yuck

If the real customer were closer, lies like that would become obvious much sooner...

Let's put the customer into the EA framework, he should have been upthere ages ago. After all, IT shouldn't please the Business, it should please the customer - she's paying for all those bills. And yes,moving in the customer would give an extra dimension to the real function the business is fulfilling within the enterprise, wouldn't it? Wink wink nudge nudge - imagine that! "Ah, so it is you that has been representing me all this time?!"; I can picture some conversations...

Social is slowly disrupting the world as we know it, and especially the old-fashioned world. I think #E20 will come to a grinding halt after the enterprise has been filled with write-once and read-none wiki's, blogs and whatnot technical gadgets that don't serve any particular enterprise goal - then again I think the goal of a modern enterprise is to serve personal profit, ego and kingdoms, and are run by middle-management 6-month horizons.
I think the size of certain enterprises has increased so enormously that, just as a rubber band does, upon stretching and stretching the tie between the business and the customer, it snapped - the distance has simply become too great: the customer has been alienated by the enterprise over the years
And what is true for the customer, is also true for the employee - although I'm not suggesting the employee should be put in the EA framework, too early for that

The fact that, for years now, enterprise architecture is about IT doing what's deemed best for the customer by the Business, without having any means of verifying that, should have been a sign on the wall long ago. But, it's never too late for a wake-up call, or is it?

I think it's time for adding the customer to the enterprise architecture framework. It will leave intact the old enterprise, and the presence of the customer will give rise to having to invent new ways to deal with new situations - and whatever that is, is hard to foresee to begin with, so best to just be confronted with it

I think the dynamics of Customer and Business are fundamentally different, and that it's increasingly harder for the Business to pretend to be representing the Customer. What do you think?

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