Update on The Open Group France: A Conversation with Eric Boulay

By The Open Group

Following this spring’s European Summit, we reached out to Eric Boulay, our French partner, to catch up on the latest goings on at The Open Group France. Boulay, who is also the CEO of our French affiliate, Arismore, provided us an update on affiliate growth and also discussed the architectural issues currently facing French companies.

Update

As Eric points out in the interview below, digital transformation is one of the largest trends French companies are grappling with. To provide some guidance, The Open Group France has recently published a new whitepaper entitled “Key Issues and Skills in Digital Transformation.” In addition, the organization uses a new publication, “TOGAF En Action” to organize meetings and share TOGAF® case studies. The TOGAF 9.1 Pocket Guide has also recently been translated into French, and a French TOGAF app is now available for iPhone users with an Android version in the works.

One new member, Adservio, has joined The Open Group France in the past quarter, and three memberships were recently renewed. The Open Group France will host an Architecture Practitioners Conference in Paris on June 17th.

Q&A

What are some of the latest goings on with The Open Group France?

France is accelerating in digital transformation so now is a good time to speed up architectural discipline. Training is doing well, and consistency and service in TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, and Enterprise Architecture are doing well because there is a move toward digital transformation. In the France architecture forum, we have meetings every six weeks to share activities and case studies. We are currently raising awareness for The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum. It’s not well-known today in France. It’s just starting up and a brand new subject.

What technology trends are Enterprise Architects in Europe grappling with today?

Definitely there is more interest in closing the gap between strategy, business and information systems. There are two topics – one is what we used to call enterprise IT architecture. IT guys are working to be more and more effective in managing IT assets—this has been the same story for a while. But what is emerging right now is—and this is due to digital transformation—there is a strong need to close the gap between enterprise strategy and information systems. This means that we are working, for example, with ArchiMate® to better understand business motivations and to go from business motivations to a roadmap to build next generation information systems. So this is a new topic because now we can say that Enterprise Architecture is no longer just an IT topic, it’s now an enterprise topic. Enterprise Architects are more and more in the right position to work both on the business and IT sides. This is a hot topic, and France is participating in the Information Architecture Work Group to propose new guidance and prescriptions. Also there is some work on the table with TOGAF to better close the gap between strategy and IT. This is exactly what we have to do better in the The Open Group Architecture Forum, and we’re working on it.

What are some of the things that can be done to start closing that gap?

First is to speak the business language. What we used to do is really to work close with the business guys. We have to use, for example, ArchiMate language but not talk about ArchiMate languages.

For example, there was an international account we had in Europe. We flew to different countries to talk to the business lines and the topic was shared services, like SAP or ERP, and what they could share with subsidiaries in other countries. We were talking about the local business, and by the end of the day we were using ArchiMate and the Archie tool to review and wrap up the meeting. These documents and drawings were very useful to explicitly figure out what exactly this business line needed. Because we had this very formal view of what they needed that was very valuable to be able to compare it with other business lines, and then we were in the position to help them set up the shared services in an international standard view. We definitely used ArchiMate tools, language and the Archie tools. We were talking about strategy and motivation and at the end of the day we shared the ArchiMate view of what they could share, and three months later they are very happy with the deliverables because we were able to provide view across different business units and different countries and we are ready to implement shared services with ERP in different countries and business lines. The method, the language, TOGAF, ArchiMate language—and also Enterprise Architect soft skills—all of these were key differentiators in being able to achieve this job.

What other things are you seeing Enterprise Architects grappling with in Europe?

Obviously Big Data and data analysis is really hyped today. Like the U.S., the first problem is that Europe needs resources and skills to work on these new topics. We are very interested in these topics, but we have to work to better figure out what kind of architecture and reference architectures we can use for that. The Open Platform 3.0™ Forum trends and reference architecture are key to fostering the maturity of the domain.

The second topic is IT4IT—behind IT4IT there is a financial issue for IT people to always deliver more value and save money. If I understand where we are going with IT4IT, we are trying to develop a reference architecture which helps companies to better deliver service with an efficient cost rationale. This is why we are taking part in IT4IT. When we promote IT4IT at the next French event in June we will talk about IT4IT because it’s an opportunity to review the IT service portfolio and the way to deliver it in an effective way.

It’s not so easy with us with security because today it’s a local issue. What I mean by local issue is, in every country in Europe and especially in France, cybersecurity and data privacy are on the government agenda. It’s a sovereignty issue, and they are cautious about local solutions. France, and especially the government, is working on that. There are works at the European level to set up policies for European data privacy and for cyber criminality. To be honest, Europe is not 100 percent confident with security issues if we’re talking about Facebook and Google. It’s not easy to propose an international framework to fix security issues. For example, Arismore is working with EA and security. EA is easy to promote – most of the major French companies are aware of TOGAF and are using EA and TOGAF even more, but not security because we have ISO 27001 and people are not very confident with U.S.-based security solutions.