Exploring Business-IT Alignment: A 20-Year Struggle Culminating in the Role and Impact of Business Architecture
Exploring Business-IT Alignment: A 20-Year StruggleCulminating in the Role and Impact of Business ArchitectureTranscript of a BrieﬁngsDirect podcast from The Open Group Conference on deﬁning the roleand scope of the business architect.Listen to the podcast. Find it oniTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: The Open GroupDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and yourelistening to BrieﬁngsDirect.Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with The Open GroupConference in Austin, Texas, the week of July 18, 2011. Weve assembled a distinguished panel to delve into the role and opportunity for business architecture. Well examine how the deﬁnition of business architect has matured and well see why it’s so important for this new role to ﬂourish in today’s dynamic business and IT landscapes. Well also see how certiﬁcation and training are helping to shape the business architecture leaders of tomorrow. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of Brieﬁngs Direct podcasts.]Here to help better understand the essential impact of business architecture on business success,is Harry Hendrickx, the Chief Technology Ofﬁcer, CME Industry Unit, HP Enterprise Servicesand a Certiﬁed Global Enterprise Architect. Welcome, Harry.Harry Hendrickx: Thank you, Dana.Gardner: Were also here with Dave van Gelder, Global Architect in the Financial ServicesStrategic Business Unit at Capgemini. Welcome, Dave.Dave van Gelder: Thank you, Dana.Gardner: And were also here with Mieke Mahakena. She is the Label Leader for Architecturein the Training Portfolio at Capgemini Academy and also a Certiﬁed Architect. Welcome, Mieke.Mieke Mahakena: Thank you.Gardner: Also, Peter Haviland, head of Architecture Services in the Americas for Ernst &Young. Hello, Peter.Peter Haviland: Morning, Dana.Gardner: And last, Kevin Daley, Chief Architect in the Technology and Innovation Group atIBM Global Business Services. Hello, Kevin.
Kevin Daley: Hello, Dana.Gardner: Let me start by addressing both Harry and Kevin. There’s been a new paper that youare working on reﬁning the deﬁnition of business architecture, but Im interested why this is soimportant now.We see that CEOs around the world really are seeking fundamental change. They recognize thatwere at an inﬂection point. Why is that the case? Why is the role of business architect soimportant now? Let’s start with Harry, please.Business-IT alignmentHendrickx: Thank you very much, Dana. Yes, it is a very important question, of course. Whyare we putting so much effort in getting business architecture on the scene? Over the past one ortwo decades, business-IT alignment has been number one on the CIO agenda, and apparently the organizations have increasing difﬁculty getting business-IT alignment resolved. There are quite a few people pioneering in business-IT alignment, but apparently there was no urgency yet to recognize this role more speciﬁcally. HP, in the past two years, interviewed CIOs worldwide, and they all indicated that they face quite large and complex transformation processes. They alsorecognize that business-IT alignment is one of key issues. We think that the business architectreally can provide some resolution to get those processes in better shape and more successful.Gardner: Kevin, your thoughts. Why is it so important right now?Daley: At IBM, we have a CEO study and a CIO study that come out in alternating years. One ofthe things that started coming out loud and clear in 2010 was that managing complexity andbuilding operating dexterity required a better understanding across the entire company. Weve started seeing a trend to move not just from business IT alignment, but to business and IT convergence. Theres an understanding more and more that information technology, and technology in general, is a core part of the business model now. Theres an understanding that now we have a situation where business and IT aren’t so much aligned, because of the fact that IT is part of business.Where we did interviews and surveys and then compiled them for thousands of CEOs, we cameup with three key elements. Amongst those was managing and taking advantage of complexitywhile building operating dexterity. That’s the key theme.
One of the problems that were seeing from the CEOs is having for decades separated IT as if itwas its own business unit, instead of part of the true sense of the business. Its been aninterpretive science. To manage that complexity they needed a means by which to start with thedesign of where theyre going and have have a business strategy.How do they take that strategy and transform it into technology and into informationmanagement? They needed an ability to have a framework in which to have that substantivediscussion between the people who were responsible, such as the CIO who is responsible fortechnology and the operations and the COOs, who are really about the execution of the overallpicture.What weve seen from our CEOs is a need to start being more integrated. There have beenmarket pressures that they having to respond to. The big economic downturn was a big changefor everyone, and they are trying to address it.Theyre looking at means that they can start integrating more globally. They can start to increasetheir cost variability and start becoming more agile in how they operate their business. To do thatthey need a means by which they can more effectively communicate.Driving understandingSo far, weve been seeing that business architecture is a perfect way to start driving anunderstanding. Its a place where both people who are used to seeing standard business modelslike revenue and capability are able to associate that to the different types of architectures anddesigns that we see coming out of the technology group.Its giving them a common place to meet and jointly move forward with what theyre trying to doin terms of managing the complexity, so they can be more agile and dexterous.Gardner: Dave van Gelder, it sounds as if what were trying to do here is at a very high level inthe organization. Does a business architect and architecture have to be at a high level to besuccessful? Where in the org chart do we typically see this role? Is it near the top? Does itmatter?van Gelder: It depends on the maturity of an organization. Within Capgemini nowadays, we talkabout business technology. As Kevin said, business and technology are not separate. Technology is part of the total business. When we started the Business Architecture Working Group in 2006, there was a lot of discussion about two words, business and architecture, and nobody knew exactly what we were talking about. Everybody had a different understanding of those words. In the last years what you have seen is that business architecture is looked at in a different way.
Currently in the Business Architecture Working Group, we see business architecture assomething that brings the balance between all the other architectures in the company -- that’s ITarchitecture, ﬁnancial architecture, money, people architecture, and a lot of other architectures.If business architecture is bringing the balance between the different aspects of a company, thenbusiness architecture is something that should be handled in the top of the organization, becausebalance should be created between all the different aspects in the organization.Gardner: Based on what Dave said. it sounds, Mieke, as if were talking about a federation ofarchitectures,. What then is the fundamental problem that the business architect needs to solve?Is this getting into the actual mechanisms or is it about organizing the people around some sort ofa vision or strategy?Mahakena: Its more like making sure that, whatever transformation youre going to implement,you align all those different aspects. As Dave told us, there are a number of aspects in anorganization that might need to change, and you can have all those different architectures forthose aspects. But, if every aspect goes its own way in changing, then they will never be aligned.Business architecture is meant to align all of those aspects to make sure that you have a balanced,consistent, and coherent set of operations at the end.Gardner: It sounds as if were in agreement that this is a high level function, but what is it thatpeople might stumble upon, if they direct this in a wrong direction? What is business architecturenot good at? Peter, what should we avoid? Whats a misstep in terms of either the level in theorganization or the target of the activity?Many things at onceHaviland: Business architecture is similar to other forms of architecture, in that it tends to try to do many things all at once. The idea of enterprise alignment is deﬁnitely the right outcome, but there is enough complexity there to blow steam out of your head for many, many years to come. Certainly in our experience in implementing these types of functions in organizations, functions that constrain scope very well, also tend to communicate very well around what their status is, what their progress is against milestones, and what outcomes theyve achieved, and they tend to articulate those outcomes in terms of real business value.What business architecture is not very good at are broad-reaching types of goals that don’t havemeasurable outcomes.Gardner: So, its not just lets have a designated business architect and a laurels-wearingindividual, but move more towards something that’s very practical and that shows results. Thatleads to a question about how to professionalize this role.
Anyone could stand up and call themselves a business architect, but what is The Open Group, inparticular, doing about actually certifying and moving towards a standardization of some sort.Does anybody have any thoughts about how to make this more rigorous?Hendrickx: The ﬁrst question we get asked is, whats the difference between a businessconsultant and a business architect or a business analyst and a business architect? We also haveenterprise architect and technology architects. Is there a reason for being for the businessarchitect? This is something we did a lot of research on at HP and we delineated the role of the business architect quite clearly from the business consulting and the business analyst aspect. The business architects role is distinct, because he combines theorganizational strategy with the operations. He identiﬁes the implications of this strategy, as wellas that of the technology for the business operations. This is opposed to the business consultant,who is more outwardly looking to the commercial aspects of the organization and what thatmeans for the structure. The business analyst is looking more at not the structure of theoperation, but at the solution level.When we look at the enterprise architect and the solution architect, the business architect focusesmore on the complete implications of the strategy and technology trends on the operations,whereas the enterprise architect is more interested in the IT and the implications for the ITstrategy and how IT should be deployed. The business architect is much more focused on thecomplete performance of the business operations.So, the bottom line of these delineations of the past one-and-a-half years is that there is a reasonfor being for a business architect. It is a distinct role and it has a real solution for a problem.Gardner: Thank you, Harry. Anyone else with some thoughts about how to make thecertiﬁcation and standardization of this stick?Deﬁning the professionMahakena: What weve been doing in the Business Forum, after we decided that businessarchitecture has its own reason for existence, we described the business architecture profession -- whats the scope and what should be the outcome of business architecture. Now, were working on the practice of business architecture by deﬁning a framework, looking at methods, and deﬁning approaches you can use to do business architecture. Parallel to that, if you know what the profession is and what the practice is, youre able to create the business architecture certiﬁcation, because those things help you deﬁne the required skills and experience a business architect
needs. So, we are working on that in the Business Forum.Daley: Lets look at business architecture from the concept that has existed, combining thethoughts of what Mieke and Harry have already talked about. When we work with clients, forthose of us that are in consultancies, we see that there is normally something that’s similar tobusiness architecture, but its either a shadow organization inside a purely business unit that isnttechnology focused, or it is things like the enterprise architects who are having to learn thebusiness concepts around business architect anecdotally, so that they can be successful in theirroles.Id suggest that were seeing a need to make it more reﬁned and more explicit, so that were ableto identify the people that ﬁt for this. They have speciﬁc things, instead of having general thingsthat we have today. For me, the certiﬁcation helps provide that certainty as a hiring manager oras somebody who is looking to staff an organization.It provides that kind of clarity of what they should be doing, giving them speciﬁc activities,speciﬁc things they do that create value for the company. It takes out of the behind the scenesaction and pull something thats critical to success into the front with people who are speciﬁcallyaligned and educated to do that.Gardner: Thank you, Kevin. Lets speak a little bit about why the strategic and top-level aspectsof this certiﬁed individual or ofﬁce is so important. It seems to me that, on one hand, we havemore need for different technology competencies in an organization, but at the same time, werestarting to see consolidation, particularly at the data center level, fewer data centers, morepowerful and vast data centers and consolidation across different regions.How does globalization ﬁt into this? Do we need to think about the fact that if we have fewerdata centers but more technology requirements, doesn’t the role of somebody or some groupneed to come together so that there is a pan organizational or even global type of effect?Lets start with you Peter. How does the globalization impact the importance of this role?Haviland: Globalization is creating more and more complexity in the business models thatorganizations are trying to operate. Over the last couple of decades, with the science andengineering of IT, there has been enormous investment by companies to actually operate,maintain, and improve their IT in their current world.In many cases, this IT work has outpaced the comparable business efforts inside thoseorganizations, when they actually think about their business, their business models, and theirbusiness operating principles.What were actually seeing now is that the rigor, the engineering, and the effort that’s put intotechnical architecture and IT architecture is now being proposed on the business side, with manybusiness management process improvement activities. These tend to be at quite a low level,however, when you compare them to business architecture initiatives at the enterprise level.
Scope and challengeIf those architecture initiatives are at the high levels that are needed, you start to consider thescope and challenges that come into play, when you start talking about globalization. So, with theincrease in scope and the global way that people are operating across cultures, geographies, andlanguages, that requires this discipline, which does operate at that high level to start to organizethe other areas, but perhaps at a lower level.Gardner: Harry Hendrickx, thoughts about this issue of increased complexity and yet moreconsolidation in terms of where IT is housed, managed, and governed?Hendrickx: There are two aspects that need to be paid more attention to with globalization andmore complexity. First, the business architect is, or should be, equipped to look at theorganization, not only within the boundaries of an organization, but also the ecosystem oforganizations that will mold together and have to be connected to produce the value.Since these are more formalized contracts or relationship with different organizations connectedto each other, there is a dynamic that is hardly seen anymore, that is not transparent anymore.There clearly needs to be some more detailed insights and transparency for each organization, sothat people understand what the impact of certain developments or events will be. This cant bedone just by logic or just by watching carefully. This really needs some in-depth analysis forwhich the business architecture is built.The second part of it is that the due to the complexity, the decision making process has becomemore complex and there will be more stakeholders involved in the different areas of decisionmaking. The business architect has a clear task and challenge as well. By absorbing the strategy,technology trends, and the different developments and focusing on the applications foroperations, he has the opportunity to discuss with the different stakeholders. He has theopportunity to get those stakeholders either mobilized or focused on speciﬁc decisions: thedeliverables you will provide.Gardner: We certainly see a lot of important characteristics in this role: global, strategic highlevel, encompassing business understanding, as well as technology. Dave van Gelder, where doyou go to ﬁnd these kinds of people? Who tends to make a good business architect or is there noreal pattern yet established as to who steps up to the plate to be able to manage this type of a job?van Gelder: To all the complexity already mentioned, Id want to add something else that wefound in the Business Architecture Working Group, which is more research in the whole ﬁeld.Thats the problem of communication. How do people communicate with each other?If you look in the IT world, most people come from an engineering background. Its hard enoughto talk to each other and to be clear to each other about whats possible and how you should go orwhat you should go for. If you start talking to all those other areas in the business, then suddenly
people have a completely other way of thinking. Sometimes they use the same words and dontunderstand each other.It’s not easy to have these kinds of people that need very good communication skills next to allthe complexity that you have to handle. On the other hand, you need an architect when itscomplex. You dont need an architect when its simple, because everybody can do it. But anarchitect is just a person. I say if I am a simple person, I can only handle simple things.What you need are people who can structure. I can only work with things when I can structure it,when the complexity is fairly well-structured. I then have overview of all those complexities, andthen I can start communicating with all the parties I have to communicate with.No real trainingAt the moment, I dont see any real training or development of these kinds of people that youneed. Most of them come with a lot of experience in a lot of ﬁelds, and because of that, they havethe possibility to talk to all kinds of people and to bring the message.Gardner: Mieke, at Capgemini Academy, you’ve obviously encouraged and encountered folksmoving towards a business architect role. What are your thoughts on what it takes and wherethey tend to come from?Mahakena: Lets have a look where they can come from. What you see is that this role ofbusiness architect can be a next step in one’s career. For example, a business analyst, who hasbeen creating a lot of experience in all kinds of ﬁelds, and he could evolve to watch a businessarchitect. This person needs to get away from the detail and move towards the strategy and amore holistic view.Another example could be an enterprise architect who already has analytics skills andcommunication skills. But, enterprise architects are more or less focusing on IT, so they shouldmove more towards the business part and towards strategy and operations.One could be the business consultant who is now focusing on strategy, also should have thosecommunication skills, and will be able to communicate with stakeholders in high positions incompanies. Business consultants have a lot of industry knowledge. So they should need moreknowledge about technology and perhaps improve their analytics skills and learn more to how tostructure operations.So, there are number of existing roles that already have a lot of skills required for businessarchitecture. They just have to enhance skills and get new skills to do this new role.Gardner: We talked about how this is important because of the internal organizational shifts andthe need for transformation. We’ve seen how globalization makes this more important, but I’dlike to also look a little bit at some of the trends and technology.
We’ve seen a great deal of emphasis on cloud computing, hybrid computing, the role of mobiledevices, wirelessly connected devices, sensors, and fabric of information which, of course, leadsto massive data, and they need to then analyze that data.This is just a handful of some of the major technology trends. Kevin Daley, it seems to me thatmanaging these trends and these new capabilities for organizations also undergirds and supportsthis need. So how do you see the technology impetus for encouraging the role of businessarchitect?Daley: Im seeing from my work in the ﬁeld that we’ve got all these things that are converging.Certainly, youve got all these enabling technologies and things that are emerging that are makingit easier to do technology types of things and speeding them up. So, as they start maturing and asorganizations start consuming them, what we’re seeing is that there’s a lack of alignment.Business relevancyWhat this trend is really doing is making sure that you have something that is your controllingdevice that says what is the business relevancy? Are we measuring these peer-to-peer --measuring something such as massive data and information fabrics compared to something likecloud computing, where you are dispersing the ability to access that more readily. It creates aproblem in that you have to make sure that people are aligned on what theyre trying toaccomplish.Were seeing that the technologies that are emerging are actually enabling business architecturein a fashion. It provides that uniﬁed vision, that holism, that you can start looking atcombinations of these technologies, instead of having to look at them as we’ve had to in the pastof siloed elements of technologies that have their own implications.Were using business architecture as a means to provide the information back to the businessanalyst who is going to look and help. You can provide the business implications, but then youhave to analyze what that implication means and make decisions for how much of that you’rewilling to accept within your organization.In the notions around how I investigate risk, how I look at what is going to improve market, andwhat is the capacity of what I can do, theres a disconnect that business for which architecture ishelping provide the ﬁller for to get to the people that are doing these corporate strategies andcorporate analysis at a level. That allows them to virtualize the concept of the technology,consume what it means and what that relates to for a business or in terms of its operation andstrategy and the technology itself.We’re seeing this become the means by which you can have that universal understanding thatthese are the implications, and that those implications can now be layered, so that you can look atthem in combination instead of having to deal with each technology trend as if its a standalonepiece.
Were seeing this as a means by which to provide some clarity around what any adoption wouldbe. When you adopt technology, it obviously has a level of maturity it has to reach, but it also hasa level of complexity. Its being able to start taking advantage of more than just one technologytrend at the same time and being able to realistically deliver that into their business model.What I have been seeing is that the technologies are driving the need for business architecture,because they need that framework to make sure that they are talking apples to apples and thatthey are meaning the same thing, so that we get out of the interpretation that we have had in thepast and get into something that’s very tactical and very tactile, and that you can structure andalign in the same way, so you understand what the full ramiﬁcations are.Gardner: Peter Haviland, we have these multiple technology developments overlapping. Theycan be opportunities for businesses, but they can also perhaps be problems, if you don’t managethem.What are the stakes here for business architecture and for organizations that can master this? Itseems to me that they would have a signiﬁcant advantage. For those that don’t, it could mean asigniﬁcant cratering of their business potentially. So are we talking about an existential levelimportance for business architecture? How important is this now?Haviland: It’s extremely important. What I see is that this is a discipline that’s just crying out formore people and more maturity. You almost need it to become pervasive throughoutorganizations now.Feeding technologyThe most common story I encounter is simply that organizations spent a lot of time in the pastcreating their processes and then they spent a lot of time feeding technology solutions to thoseprocesses. In recent times, the pace of technology change has moved faster than that previousparadigm.What youre looking at is at people saying, well, I am the business, there are all of thesetechnology options out there. I cannot ﬁnd a way forward and so how do I exploit those? That iswhere the business architecture profession is really being pushed to the front.That said, there is a slight risk here that it may be considered too much in isolation. I mean, it isan architecture profession, it is a part of architecture, and the value of architecture is to providethat aligned view across the various domains that are important in terms of business, technology,information, security, and those types of elements.When it comes back to what’s at stake for businesses that are investing in this particular area andfor businesses that are trying to reconsider the way that they can operate themselves to supporttechnology, they are moving ahead and they have competitive advantage. Businesses that aren’tdoing that tend to be left behind, because the pace of change of technology is going to get faster.
Gardner: Were here at The Open Group Conference. I wonder if any of you could ﬁll us in onwhat The Open Group is now doing to advance this deﬁnition, mature the role, promulgatecertiﬁcation, and hasten the effect and beneﬁts of business architecture in the ﬁeld. Who canupdate us brieﬂy on where we stand with The Open Group’s movement on certiﬁcation anddeﬁnition?Mahakena: All those subjects you mentioned are part of the work of the Business Forum. TheBusiness Forum is working in parallel on all those things. For example, its deﬁning theprofession and deﬁning business architecture, working on methods and frameworks andapproaches, and working on certiﬁcation.We need to do that in parallel, because all those aspects have to be aligned. We also needalignment in our own work to make sure that the certiﬁcation, for example, are just the skills youactually need to do the business architecture and to create the outcomes we have deﬁned in theprofession and practice part.Were on our way as a Business Forum and we have done a huge amount of work, but were notready yet. There are still a number of subjects we need to discuss, and we need to aligneverything we have now to make sure that we have a consistent package of deliverables that canbe used by the members of The Open Group and anyone outside as well.That’s where we are at this moment, and we are hoping to deliver a set of documents that will beaccepted by The Open Group, by the members, and then they can be shared.Hendrickx: I want to extend a little bit on where we are, because there has been someinvestigation in the 28 frameworks, which are very close or are meant to be frameworks forbusiness architects. From this it resulted that none of these really had a complete holisticapproach, as the role is identiﬁed currently, or at least how the needs have been identiﬁed in themarketplace.Some have gapsSome are quite close, but quite a few have gaps in one of the areas that should be touched, likestrategy, operations, processes, or technology. We currently try to identify and ﬁll that gap. That’sone point.The other one is that most of the techniques used by the business architect are very well-embedded in academic research and are often and sometimes already used by different roles aswell.Im thinking of things like the systems approach, and the systems thinkers have quite a fewtechniques. There are also techniques developed by IBM, HP, and Capgemini on the businessarchitecture, which are well-versed and well-embedded in academic research of the past 20, 30years. So, its not just a set of techniques that are built together. These are really based on insightswhich we have gained over several decades.
Gardner: Very good. I understand that many of these resources and the ability to take part insome of these working groups are all available on the newly redesigned Open Group website.That would be opengroup.org online and easily found from search.I want to close up by thanking our guests. Weve been discussing the burgeoning role of, and theopportunity for, business architecture and its practitioners in a dynamic global businessenvironment.This podcast is coming to you as a sponsored activity in conjunction with The Open GroupConference in Austin, Texas, the week of July 18, 2011.So thanks to our guests. Weve been joined by Harry Hendrickx, Chief Technology Ofﬁcer, CMEIndustry Unit in HP’s Enterprise Services, and also a Certiﬁed Global Enterprise Architect.Thank you, Harry.Hendrickx: Thank you, Dana.Gardner: And also Dave van Gelder, Global Architect in the Financial Services StrategicBusiness unit at Capgemini. Thank you, Dave.van Gelder: Thank you, Dana.Gardner: Were also here with Mieke Mahakena. She is the Label Leader for Architecture in theTraining Portfolio at Capgemini Academy, and also a Certiﬁed Architect. Thank you, Mieke.Mahakena: You are welcome, Dana.Gardner: Peter Haviland, Head of the Architecture Services for Americas at Ernst & Young hasalso joined us. Thank you, Peter.Haviland: Thanks, Dana. Thanks everyone.Gardner: And lastly, Kevin Daley, Chief Architect in the Technology and Innovation Group atIBM Global Business Services. Thanks so much, Kevin.Daley: Thank you, Dana. Again, thanks to everyone else also.Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks again forlistening, and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it oniTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: The Open GroupTranscript of a BrieﬁngsDirect podcast from The Open Group Conference on deﬁning the roleand scope of the business architect. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rightsreserved.
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