The Open Group Johannesburg 2015 – Conference Highlights

By Stuart Macgregor, CEO, The Open Group South Africa

A packed agenda drew over 125 delegates to  The Open Group Johannesburg Conference on 17 March 2015, the seventh to be hosted by The Open Group South Africa. The theme this year was “The State of Enterprise Architecture Globally” which explored the transformative benefits of EA and how to reach the ultimate state of “business-focused, sustainable EA” through a series of presentations, discussions and an exhibition.

Conference exhibitors Avolution, Troux and BIC Platform showcased their Enterprise Architecture tools at the event. Avolution gave delegates a preview of the new release of the flagship toolset ABACUS 4.4.

It’s not hard to see why Enterprise Architecture is capturing the attention of business and technology professionals. Keynote speaker and The Open Group President & CEO Allen Brown pointed out that vehicle manufacturer Nissan attributes more than $1-billion in savings to Enterprise Architecture over a 10 year period.

Brown drew attention to The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™, which enables the breakdown of barriers to create a cross-functional organisation. He also noted that Enterprise Architecture is not a technologically-driven conversation; instead, it must be aligned with the customer journey. “The organisation needs to learn more about people so as not to segment, since people are not ‘one size fits all’; business architecture, as a component of Enterprise Architecture, helps with understanding the customer journey,” he said.

Brown noted growth in successful implementations of EA around the world, including the remarkable case of Nissan. The carmaker faced challenges familiar to many technology professionals in large enterprises: multiple demands to align IT with business, the necessity to document rapidly changing information, and standardise processes. Nissan applied EA to create a comprehensive, readily accessible view of its technology environment.

Closer to home, Brown said Sasol is a local case study which shows the capabilities which flow from an EA implementation. It’s not only corporations that benefit; skilled individuals are making their mark, too. “Enterprise Architects are in high demand around the world and it’s one of the highest paid skills,” he added.

In addition to Brown’s keynote address, presentations by Paul van der Merwe, Enterprise Architect, Nedbank and Vusi Mdlalose, head of Reference Architecture and Tooling for the Barclays Africa Group, provided direct insights into how South African companies are harnessing the power of EA – and the TOGAF® and ArchiMate® standards (both Open Group standards) – to achieve predictable outcomes from complex technology environments.

“The Enterprise Architecture team played an instrumental role in defining this transformational journey for the bank through their adoption of TOGAF as the EA method,” noted van der Merwe, “This journey was defined by applying a capability-based approach to understanding the business requirements and priorities, a layered model for organising technology solutions and a managed evolution rollout strategy.”

Vusi Mdlalose’s talk gave insight into how ArchiMate informed the building and implementation of their meta model, and how they then built their architecture reference models and underlying architectures.

And, taking delegates outside of technology to consider the psychology of change, Real IRM’s Joanne Macgregor, Specialist Consultant and Trainer, presented on the necessity for effective change management as an integral part of EA implementations. Her aptly named presentation title, “You can lead a horse to water…” explored how many EA implementations do not succeed in realising their full potential due to a failure in managing the “fuzzy” human aspects of organisational transformation.

James Thomas, Lead Enterprise Architect at the South African Reserve Bank, took a different approach in his presentation titled, “The state of Enterprise Architecture globally”.

Thomas noted that the EA discipline is growing globally, but that there are business and IT stakeholders with concerns, misconceptions and downright scepticism – and set about dispelling the unknown. Fortunately his final conclusion stated “Long live Enterprise Architects!”

Lunch was followed by three tracks which focused on EA Frameworks, Practical TOGAF® and Realising EA Value. The topics and speakers included:

  • Frameworks of the IBM Systems Journal by Adriaan Vorster, Industry Consultant, Gijima
  • Successfully doing TOGAF in a Scrum Project; Marvin Williams, Associate Director Architect, Cognizant Technology USA
  • Less is more: putting EA at the heart of top-level decision-making; Jerome Bugnet, Senior Solution Director, Troux Technologies UK
  • Enterprise Security Architecture at Eskom – TOGAF and SABSA; Maganathin Veeraragaloo, Chief Advisor Information Security, Eskom
  • Enterprise Architecture as a core capability in successful transformation programmes; Roar Engen, Partner and Chief Enterprise Architect, Primesource EA Norway

The afternoon plenary included a presentation by Louw Labuschagne, Managing Partner, CS Interactive, who gave an overview of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) and showed how the adoption of this framework is impacting the definition of Enterprise Architecture (EA) skills.

The Open Group Johannesburg 2015 was declared a resounding success. “Not only have delegates enjoyed executive insights directly from The Open Group, they have also seen how leading South African companies are applying EA principles to take charge of complex technology environments. And, of course, an event like this also presents an unmatched opportunity for global networking in a specialist field which is growing rapidly.”

In the closing presentation, Brown urged the delegates to view and download the publications from The Open Group for further insight and knowledge and more importantly to talk to the people who are doing EA. (Whether it’s IT4IT™, TOGAF or ArchiMate)

“It’s the networking at events like these that are ten times more valuable than anything else,” concluded Brown.

By Stuart Macgregor, The Open GroupStuart Macgregor, CEO of The Open Group South Africa, is also the Chief Executive of the South African company, Real IRM Solutions. Through his personal achievements, he has gained the reputation of an Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance specialist, both in South Africa and internationally.

Macgregor participated in the development of the Microsoft Enterprise Computing Roadmap in Seattle. He was then invited by John Zachman to Scottsdale, Arizona to present a paper on using the Zachman framework to implement ERP systems. In addition, Macgregor was selected as a member of both the SAP AG Global Customer Council for Knowledge Management, and of the panel that developed COBIT 3rd Edition Management Guidelines. He has also assisted a global Life Sciences manufacturer to define their IT Governance framework, a major financial institution to define their global, regional and local IT organizational designs and strategy. He was also selected as a core member of the team that developed the South African Breweries (SABMiller) plc global IT strategy.

Stuart, as the lead researcher, assisted the IT Governance Institute map CobiT 4.0 to TOGAF® . This mapping document was published by ISACA and The Open Group.