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The Open Group Boston 2014 Preview: Talking People Architecture with David Foote

By The Open Group

Among all the issues that CIOs, CTOs and IT departments are facing today, staffing is likely near the top of the list of what’s keeping them up at night. Sure, there’s dealing with constant (and disruptive) technological changes and keeping up with the latest tech and business trends, such as having a Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) or a mobile strategy, but without the right people with the right skills at the right time it’s impossible to execute on these initiatives.

Technology jobs are notoriously difficult to fill–far more difficult than positions in other industries where roles and skillsets may be much more static. And because technology is rapidly evolving, the roles for tech workers are also always in flux. Last year you may have needed an Agile developer, but today you may need a mobile developer with secure coding ability and in six months you might need an IoT developer with strong operations or logistics domain experience—with each position requiring different combinations of tech, functional area, solution and “soft” skillsets.

According to David Foote, IT Industry Analyst and co-founder of IT workforce research and advisory firm Foote Partners, the mash-up of HR systems and ad hoc people management practices most companies have been using for years to manage IT workers have become frighteningly ineffective. He says that to cope in today’s environment, companies need to architect their people infrastructure similar to how they have been architecting their technical infrastructure.

“People Architecture” is the term Foote has coined to describe the application of traditional architectural principles and practices that may already be in place elsewhere within an organization and applying them to managing the IT workforce. This includes applying such things as strategy and capability roadmaps, phase gate blueprints, benchmarks, performance metrics, governance practices and stakeholder management to human capital management (HCM).

HCM components for People Architecture typically include job definition and design, compensation, incentives and recognition, skills demand and acquisition, job and career paths, professional development and work/life balance.

Part of the dilemma for employers right now, Foote says, is that there is very little job title standardization in the marketplace and too many job titles floating around IT departments today. “There are too many dimensions and variability in jobs now that companies have gotten lost from an HR perspective. They’re unable to cope with the complexity of defining, determining pay and laying out career paths for all these jobs, for example. For many, serious retention and hiring problems are showing up for the first time. Work-around solutions used for years to cope with systemic weaknesses in their people management systems have stopped working,” says Foote. “Recruiters start picking off their best people and candidates are suddenly rejecting offers and a panic sets in. Tensions are palpable in their IT workforce. These IT realities are pervasive.”

Twenty-five years ago, Foote says, defining roles in IT departments was easier. But then the Internet exploded and technology became far more customer-facing, shifting basic IT responsibilities from highly technical people deep within companies to roles requiring more visibility and transparency within and outside the enterprise. Large chunks of IT budgets moved into the business lines while traditional IT became more of a business itself.

According to Foote, IT roles became siloed not just by technology but by functional areas such as finance and accounting, operations and logistics, sales, marketing and HR systems, and by industry knowledge and customer familiarity. Then the IT professional services industry rapidly expanded to compete with their customers for talent in the marketplace. Even the architect role changed: an Enterprise Architect today can specialize in applications, security or data architecture among others, or focus on a specific industry such as energy, retail or healthcare.

Foote likens the fragmentation of IT jobs and skillsets that’s happening now to the emergence of IT architecture 25 years ago. Just as technical architecture practices emerged to help make sense of the disparate systems rapidly growing within companies and how best to determine the right future tech investments, a people architecture approach today helps organizations better manage an IT workforce spread through the enterprise with roles ranging from architects and analysts to a wide variety of engineers, developers and project and program managers.

“Technical architecture practices were successful because—when you did them well—companies achieved an understanding of what they have systems-wise and then connected it to where they were going and how they were going to get there, all within a process inclusive of all the various stakeholders who shared the risk in the outcome. It helped clearly define enterprise technology capabilities and gave companies more options and flexibility going forward,” according to Foote.

“Right now employers desperately need to incorporate in human capital management systems and practice the same straightforward, inclusive architecture approaches companies are already using in other areas of their businesses. This can go a long way toward not just lessening staffing shortages but also executing more predictably and being more agile in face of constant uncertainties and the accelerating pace of change. Ultimately this translates into a more effective workforce whether they are full-timers or the contingent workforce of part-timers, consultants and contractors.

“It always comes down to your people. That’s not a platitude but a fact,” insists Foote. “If you’re not competitive in today’s labor marketplace and you’re not an employer where people want to work, you’re dead.”

One industry that he says has gotten it right is the consulting industry. “After all, their assets walk out the door every night. Consulting groups within firms such as IBM and Accenture have been good at architecting their staffing because it’s their job to get out in front of what’s coming technologically. Because these firms must anticipate customer needs before they get the call to implement services, they have to be ahead of the curve in already identifying and hiring the bench strength needed to fulfill demand. They do many things right to hire, develop and keep the staff they need in place.”

Unfortunately, many companies take too much of a just-in-time approach to their workforce so they are always managing staffing from a position of scarcity rather than looking ahead, Foote says. But, this is changing, in part due to companies being tired of never having the people they need and being able to execute predictably.

The key is to put a structure in place that addresses a strategy around what a company needs and when. This applies not just to the hiring process, but also to compensation, training and advancement.

“Architecting anything allows you to be able to, in a more organized way, be more agile in dealing with anything that comes at you. That’s the beauty of architecture. You plan for the fact that you’re going to continue to scale and continue to change systems, the world’s going to continue to change, but you have an orderly way to manage the governance, planning and execution of that, the strategy of that and the implementation of decisions knowing that the architecture provides a more agile and flexible modular approach,” he said.

Foote says organizations such as The Open Group can lend themselves to facilitating People Architecture in a couple different ways. First, through extending the principles of architecture to human capital management, and second through vendor-independent, expertise and experience driven certifications, such as TOGAF® or OpenCA and OpenCITS, that help companies define core competencies for people and that provide opportunities for training and career advancement.

“I’m pretty bullish on many vendor-independent certifications in general, particularly where a defined book of knowledge exists that’s achieved wide acceptance in the industry. And that’s what you’ve got with The Open Group. Nobody’s challenging the architectural framework supremacy of TOGAF that that I’m aware of. In fact, large vendors with their own certifications participated actively in developing the framework and applying it very successfully to their business models,” he said.

Although the process of implementing People Architecture can be difficult and may take several years to master (much like Enterprise Architecture), Foote says it is making a huge difference for companies that implement it.

To learn more about People Architecture and models for implementing it, plan to attend Foote’s session at The Open Group Boston 2014 on Tuesday July 22. Foote’s session will address how architectural principles are being applied to human capital so that organizations can better manage their workforces from hiring and training through compensation, incentives and advancement. He will also discuss how career paths for EAs can be architected. Following the conference, the session proceedings will be available to Open Group members and conference attendees at www.opengroup.org.

Join the conversation – #ogchat #ogBOS

footeDavid Foote is an IT industry research pioneer, innovator, and one of the most quoted industry analysts on global IT workforce trends and multiple facets of the human side of technology value creation. His two decades of groundbreaking deep research and analysis of IT-business cross-skilling and technology/business management integration and leading the industry in innovative IT skills demand and compensation benchmarking has earned him a place on a short list of thought leaders in IT human capital management.

A former Gartner and META Group analyst, David leads the research and analytical practice groups at Foote Partners that reach 2,300 customers on six continents.

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Filed under architecture, Conference, Open CA, Open CITS, Professional Development, Standards, TOGAF®, Uncategorized

The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Starts to Take Shape

By Dr. Chris Harding, Director for Interoperability, The Open Group

The Open Group published a White Paper on Open Platform 3.0™ at the start of its conference in Amsterdam in May 2014. This article, based on a presentation given at the conference, explains how the definition of the platform is beginning to emerge.

Introduction

Amsterdam is a beautiful place. Walking along the canals is like moving through a set of picture postcards. But as you look up at the houses beside the canals, and you see the cargo hoists that many of them have, you are reminded that the purpose of the arrangement was not to give pleasure to tourists. Amsterdam is a great trading city, and the canals were built as a very efficient way of moving goods around.

This is also a reminder that the primary purpose of architecture is not to look beautiful, but to deliver business value, though surprisingly, the two often seem to go together quite well.

When those canals were first thought of, it might not have been obvious that this was the right thing to do for Amsterdam. Certainly the right layout for the canal network would not be obvious. The beginning of a project is always a little uncertain, and seeing the idea begin to take shape is exciting. That is where we are with Open Platform 3.0 right now.

We started with the intention to define a platform to enable enterprises to get value from new technologies including cloud computing, social computing, mobile computing, big data, the Internet of Things, and perhaps others. We developed an Open Group business scenario to capture the business requirements. We developed a set of business use-cases to show how people are using and wanting to use those technologies. And that leads to the next step, which is to define the platform. All these new technologies and their applications sound wonderful, but what actually is Open Platform 3.0?

The Third Platform

Looking historically, the first platform was the computer operating system. A vendor-independent operating system interface was defined by the UNIX® standard. The X/Open Company and the Open Software Foundation (OSF), which later combined to form The Open Group, were created because companies everywhere were complaining that they were locked into proprietary operating systems. They wanted applications portability. X/Open specified the UNIX® operating system as a common application environment, and the value that it delivered was to prevent vendor lock-in.

The second platform is the World Wide Web. It is a common services environment, for services used by people browsing web pages or for web services used by programs. The value delivered is universal deployment and access. Any person or company anywhere can create a services-based solution and deploy it on the web, and every person or company throughout the world can access that solution.

Open Platform 3.0 is developing as a common architecture environment. This does not mean it is a replacement for TOGAF®. TOGAF is about how you do architecture and will continue to be used with Open Platform 3.0. Open Platform 3.0 is about what kind of architecture you will create. It will be a common environment in which enterprises can do architecture. The big business benefit that it will deliver is integrated solutions.

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Figure 1: The Third Platform

With the second platform, you can develop solutions. Anyone can develop a solution based on services accessible over the World Wide Web. But independently-developed web service solutions will very rarely work together “out of the box”.

There is an increasing need for such solutions to work together. We see this need when looking at The Open Platform 3.0 technologies. People want to use these technologies together. There are solutions that use them, but they have been developed independently of each other and have to be integrated. That is why Open Platform 3.0 has to deliver a way of integrating solutions that have been developed independently.

Common Architecture Environment

The Open Group has recently published its first thoughts on Open Platform 3.0 in the Open Platform 3.0 White Paper. This lists a number of things that will eventually be in the Open Platform 3.0 standard. Many of these are common architecture artifacts that can be used in solution development. They will form a common architecture environment. They are:

  • Statement of need, objectives, and principles – this is not part of that environment of course; it says why we are creating it.
  • Definitions of key terms – clearly you must share an understanding of the key terms if you are going to develop common solutions or integrable solutions.
  • Stakeholders and their concerns – an understanding of these is an important aspect of an architecture development, and something that we need in the standard.
  • Capabilities map – this shows what the products and services that are in the platform do.
  • Basic models – these show how the platform components work with each other and with other products and services.
  • Explanation of how the models can be combined to realize solutions – this is an important point and one that the white paper does not yet start to address.
  • Standards and guidelines that govern how the products and services interoperate – these are not standards that The Open Group is likely to produce, they will almost certainly be produced by other bodies, but we need to identify the appropriate ones and probably in some cases coordinate with the appropriate bodies to see that they are developed.

The Open Platform 3.0 White Paper contains an initial statement of needs, objectives and principles, definitions of some key terms, a first-pass list of stakeholders and their concerns, and half a dozen basic models. The basic models are in an analysis of the business use-cases for Open Platform 3.0 that were developed earlier.

These are just starting points. The white paper is incomplete: each of the sections is incomplete in itself, and of course the white paper does not contain all the sections that will be in the standard. And it is all subject to change.

An Example Basic Model

The figure shows a basic model that could be part of the Open Platform 3.0 common architecture environment.

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Figure 2: Mobile Connected Device Model

This is the Mobile Connected Device Model: one of the basic models that we identified in the snapshot. It comes up quite often in the use-cases.

The stack on the left is a mobile device. It has a user, it has apps, it has a platform which would probably be Android or iOS, it has infrastructure that supports the platform, and it is connected to the World Wide Web, because that’s part of the definition of mobile computing.

On the right you see, and this is a frequently encountered pattern, that you don’t just use your mobile device for running apps. Maybe you connect it to a printer, maybe you connect it to your headphones, maybe you connect it to somebody’s payment terminal, you can connect it to many things. You might do this through a Universal Serial Bus (USB). You might do it through Bluetooth. You might do it by Near Field Communications (NFC). You might use other kinds of local connection.

The device you connect to may be operated by yourself (e.g. if it is headphones), or by another organization (e.g. if it is a payment terminal). In the latter case you typically have a business relationship with the operator of the connected device.

That is an example of the basic models that came up in the analysis of the use-cases. It is captured in the White Paper. It is fundamental to mobile computing and is also relevant to the Internet of Things.

Access to Technologies

This figure captures our understanding of the need to obtain information from the new technologies, social media, mobile devices, sensors and so on, the need to process that information, maybe on the cloud, to manage it and, ultimately, to deliver it in a form where there is analysis and reasoning that enables enterprises to take business decisions.

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Figure 3: Access to Technologies

The delivery of information to improve the quality of decisions is the source of real business value.

User-Driven IT

The next figure captures a requirement that we picked up in the development of the business scenario.

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Figure 4: User-Driven IT

Traditionally, you would have had the business use in the business departments of an enterprise, and pretty much everything else in the IT department. But we are seeing two big changes. One is that the business users are getting smarter, more able to use technology. The other is they want to use technology themselves, or to have business technologists closely working with them, rather than accessing it indirectly through the IT department.

The systems provisioning and management is now often done by cloud service providers, and the programming and integration and helpdesk by cloud brokers, or by an IT department that plays a broker role, rather than working in the traditional way.

The business still needs to retain responsibility for the overall architecture and for compliance. If you do something against your company’s principles, your customers will hold you responsible. It is no defense to say, “Our broker did it that way.” Similarly, if you break the law, your broker does not go to jail, you do. So those things will continue to be more associated with the business departments, even as the rest is devolved.

In short, businesses have a new way of using IT that Open Platform 3.0 must and will accommodate.

Integration of Independently-Developed Solutions

The next figure illustrates how the integration of independently developed solutions can be achieved.

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Figure 5: Architecture Integration

It shows two solutions, which come from the analysis of different business use-cases. They share a common model, which makes it much easier to integrate them. That is why the Open Platform 3.0 standard will define common models for access to the new technologies.

The Open Platform 3.0 standard will have other common artifacts: architectural principles, stakeholder definitions and descriptions, and so on. Independently-developed architectures that use them can be integrated more easily.

Enterprises develop their architectures independently, but engage with other enterprises in business ecosystems that require shared solutions. Increasingly, business relationships are dynamic, and there is no time to develop an agreed ecosystem architecture from scratch. Use of the same architecture platform, with a common architecture environment including elements such as principles, stakeholder concerns, and basic models, enables the enterprise architectures to be integrated, and shared solutions to be developed quickly.

Completing the Definition

How will we complete the definition of Open Platform 3.0?

The Open Platform 3.0 Forum recently published a set of 22 business use-cases – the Nexus of Forces in Action. These use-cases show the application of Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things in a wide variety of business areas.

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Figure 6: Business Use-Cases

The figure comes from that White Paper and shows some of those areas: multimedia, social networks, building energy management, smart appliances, financial services, medical research, and so on.

Use-Case Analysis

We have started to analyze those use-cases. This is an ArchiMate model showing how our first business use-case, The Mobile Smart Store, could be realized.

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Figure 7: Use-Case Analysis

As you look at it you see common models. Outlined on the left is a basic model that is pretty much the same as the original TOGAF Technical Reference Model. The main difference is the addition of a business layer (which shows how enterprise architecture has moved in the business direction since the TRM was defined).

But you also see that the same model appears in the use-case in a different place, as outlined on the right. It appears many times throughout the business use-cases.

Finally, you can see that the Mobile Connected Device Model has appeared in this use-case (outlined in the center). It appears in other use-cases too.

As we analyze the use-cases, we find common models, as well as common principles, common stakeholders, and other artifacts.

The Development Cycle

We have a development cycle: understanding the value of the platform by considering use-cases, analyzing those use-cases to derive common features, and documenting the common features in a specification.

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Figure 8: The Development Cycle

The Open Platform 3.0 White Paper represents the very first pass through that cycle, further passes will result in further White Papers, a snapshot, and ultimately The Open Platform 3.0 standard, and no doubt more than one version of that standard.

Conclusions

Open Platform 3.0 provides a common architecture environment. This enables enterprises to derive business value from social computing, mobile computing, big data, the Internet-of-Things, and potentially other new technologies.

Cognitive computing, for example, has been suggested as another technology that Open Platform 3.0 might in due course accommodate. What would that lead to? There would be additional use-cases, which would lead to further analysis, which would no doubt identify some basic models for cognitive computing, which would be added to the platform.

Open Platform 3.0 enables enterprise IT to be user-driven. There is a revolution in the way that businesses use IT. Users are becoming smarter and more able to use technology, and want to do so directly, rather than through a separate IT department. Business departments are taking in business technologists who understand how to use technology for business purposes. Some companies are closing their IT departments and using cloud brokers instead. In other companies, the IT department is taking on a broker role, sourcing technology that business people use directly.Open Platform 3.0 will be part of that revolution.

Open Platform 3.0 will deliver the ability to integrate solutions that have been independently developed. Businesses typically exist within one or more business ecosystems. Those ecosystems are dynamic: partners join, partners leave, and businesses cannot standardize the whole architecture across the ecosystem; it would be nice to do so but, by the time it was done, the business opportunity would be gone. Integration of independently developed architectures is crucial to the world of business ecosystems and delivering value within them.

Call for Input

The platform will deliver a common architecture environment, user-driven enterprise IT, and the ability to integrate solutions that have been independently developed. The Open Platform 3.0 Forum is defining it through an iterative process of understanding the content, analyzing the use-cases, and documenting the common features. We welcome input and comments from other individuals within and outside The Open Group and from other industry bodies.

If you have comments on the way Open Platform 3.0 is developing or input on the way it should develop, please tell us! You can do so by sending mail to platform3-input@opengroup.org or share your comments on our blog.

References

The Open Platform 3.0 White Paper: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/catalog/W147

The Nexus of Forces in Action: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/catalog/W145

TOGAF®: http://www.opengroup.org/togaf/

harding

Dr. Chris Harding is Director for Interoperability at The Open Group. He has been with The Open Group for more than ten years, and is currently responsible for managing and supporting its work on interoperability, including SOA and interoperability aspects of Cloud Computing, and the Open Platform 3.0™ Forum. He is a member of the BCS, the IEEE and the AEA, and is a certified TOGAF® practitioner.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under architecture, Boundaryless Information Flow™, Cloud, Cloud/SOA, digital technologies, Open Platform 3.0, Service Oriented Architecture, Standards, TOGAF®, Uncategorized