Enterprise Architecture in China: Who uses this stuff?

by Chris Forde, GM APAC and VP Enterprise Architecture, The Open Group

Since moving to China in March 2010 I have consistently heard a similar set of statements and questions, something like this….

“EA? That’s fine for Europe and America, who is using it here?”

“We know EA is good!”

“What is EA?”

“We don’t have the ability to do EA, is it a problem if we just focus on IT?”

And

“Mr Forde your comment about western companies not discussing their EA programs because they view them as a competitive advantage is accurate here too, we don’t discuss we have one for that reason.” Following that statement the lady walked away smiling, having not introduced herself or her company.

Well some things are changing in China relative to EA and events organized by The Open Group; here is a snapshot from May 2013.

M GaoThe Open Group held an Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in Shanghai China May 22nd 2013. The conference theme was EA and the spectrum of business value. The presentations were made by a mix of non-member and member organizations of The Open Group, most but not all based in China. The audience was mostly non-members from 55 different organizations in a range of industries. There was a good mix of customer, supplier, government and academic organizations presenting and in the audience. The conference proceedings are available to registered attendees of the conference and members of The Open Group. Livestream recordings will also be available shortly.

Organizations large and small presented about the fact that EA was integral to delivering business value. Here’s the nutshell.

China

Huawei is a leading global ICT communications provider based in Shenzhen China.  They presented on EA applied to their business transformation program and the ongoing development of their core EA practice.

GKHB is a software services organization based in Chengdu China. They presented on an architecture practice applied to real time forestry and endangered species management.

Nanfang Media is a State Owned Enterprise, the second largest media organization in the country based in Guangzhou China. They presented on the need to rapidly transform themselves to a modern integrated digital based organization.

McKinsey & Co a Management Consulting company based in New York USA presented an analysis of a CIO survey they conducted with Peking University.

Mr Wang Wei a Partner in the Shanghai office of McKinsey & Co’s Business Technology Practice reviewed a survey they conducted in co-operation with Peking University.

wang wei.jpg

The Survey of CIO’s in China indicated a common problem of managing complexity in multiple dimensions: 1) “Theoretically” Common Business Functions, 2) Across Business Units with differing Operations and Product, 3) Across Geographies and Regions. The recommended approach was towards “Organic Integration” and to carefully determine what should be centralized and what should be distributed. An Architecture approach can help with managing and mitigating these realities. The survey also showed that the CIO’s are evenly split amongst those dedicated to a traditional CIO role and those that have a dual Business and CIO role.

Mr Yang Li Chao Director of EA and Planning at Huawei and Ms Wang Liqun leader of the EA Center of Excellence at Huawei yang li chao.jpgwang liqun.jpgoutlined the 5-year journey Huawei has been on to deal with the development, maturation and effectiveness of an Architecture practice in a company that has seen explosive growth and is competing on a global scale. They are necessarily paying a lot of attention to Talent Management and development of their Architects, as these people are at the forefront of the company Business Transformation efforts. Huawei constantly consults with experts on Architecture from around the world and incorporates what they consider best practice into their own method and framework, which is based on TOGAF®.

 Mr He Kun CIO of Nanfang Media described the enormous pressures his traditional media organization is under, such as a concurrent loss of advertising and talent to digital media.

he kun.jpgHe gave and example where China Mobile has started its own digital newspaper leveraging their delivery platform. So naturally, Nanfang media is also undergoing a transformation and is looking to leverage its current advantages as a trusted source and its existing market position. The discipline of Architecture is a key enabler and aids as a foundation for clearly communicating a transformation approach to other business leaders. This does not mean using EA Jargon but communicating in the language of his peers for the purpose of obtaining funding to accomplish the transformation effectively.

Mr Chen Peng Vice General Manager of GKHB Chengdu described the use of an Architecture approach to managing precious national resources such as forestry, bio diversity and endangered species. He descrichen peng.jpgbed the necessity for real time information in observation, tracking and responses in this area and the necessity of “Informationalization” of Forestry in China as a part of eGovernment initiatives not only for the above topics but also for the countries growth particularly in supplying the construction industry. The Architecture approach taken here is also based on TOGAF®.

The take away from this conference is that Enterprise Architecture is alive and well amongst certain organizations in China. It is being used in a variety of industries.  Value is being realized by executives and practitioners, and delivered for both IT and Business units. However for many companies EA is also a new idea and to date its value is unclear to them.

The speakers also made it clear that there are no easy answers, each organization has to find its own use and value from Enterprise Architecture and it is a learning journey. They expressed their appreciation that The Open Group and its standards are a place where they can make connections, pull from and contribute to in regards to Enterprise Architecture.

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