Reflections on 2020 and Looking Ahead to 2021

By Steve Nunn, President and CEO, The Open Group

Happy New Year everyone!

Firstly, I hope that you, your family, and friends, have been able to stay safe during these trying times. So many around the world have lost so much in this COVID-19 pandemic which clearly will be with us for some time yet. We must, however, be heartened by the unprecedented speed with which vaccines have been developed. The delivery and administration of these vaccines has only just begun, of course, but we have good reason to be optimistic about the coming months.

As we leave one year and start the next, it is always a good time to pause, and look back at the old, and forward to the new. Despite the difficulties faced by everyone in the past year, 2020 has been a year of considerable achievement for The Open Group, thanks to the continuing efforts of its Members and staff. We ended 2020 with over 800 memberships from over 50 countries worldwide – our highest membership levels ever! Just as pleasing was to see many of these new Members actively participating across the range of The Open Group Forums, Consortia, Work Groups, and Events.

As you may already be aware, a significant milestone was reached in June 2020, when the number of individuals certified under our TOGAF® Standard: Certification for People program reached 100,000. We would have reached this number sooner but for the closure of exam centers in many geographies, due to the pandemic. However, the swift and effective action taken by The Open Group Certification team enabled people to take their exams from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The resulting recovery of, and increased interest in, that and our other certification programs is a direct result of organizational agility in practice. The continued availability of these Online Proctored Exams should prove beneficial to many in the coming year too. 

While on the topic of agility and adaptability, The Open Group has always prided itself as an organization which brings people together, whether it be at our Member meetings, conferences, or other events. However, we were suddenly faced with that being the last thing anyone wanted to, or should, be doing!  Having to switch from face-to-face physical events to virtual, online events was a particular challenge, and our Events team had to quickly come up with a solution to best accommodate our community’s needs. The creation of #ogVIRTUAL was no easy task, but the result was that The Open Group had over 60,000 attendees at our events in 2020! More people were able to attend a virtual event than we could ever hope for at a physical event, so we were able to significantly extend our reach last year, with thousands of individuals experiencing one of our events for the first time.

On the topic of events, I think the question that I have been asked most in the last few months is “when will you be running your face-to-face events again?” Of course, none of us knows the answer for sure but, what is very clear is that there is an ever-growing desire for, and interest in, physical events – when it’s safe to hold them, of course. Until then, we will continue to improve our virtual events, and we have spent a lot of time behind the scenes improving our online event experience through the use of a new Event Management Platform. We very much look forward to seeing even more attendees at our events this year.

One of the other things that I hear a lot is “I didn’t know The Open Group was working in that area”, both at external events, and even within our own membership. So, I thought it might be a good time to mention some of the highlights from 2020, and some of the activities that you will be hearing more about this year.

In September 2020, we announced the publication of the Open Agile Architecture™ Standard, also known as the O-AA™ Standard. Developed by The Open Group Governing Board Agile Architecture Work Group, the new standard is designed to be particularly helpful to enterprises working through dual Agile and Digital Transformation initiatives. Our TOGAF® Standard remains the most broadly used and best-known Enterprise Architecture standard globally, ensuring consistent standards, methods, and communication among Enterprise Architecture (EA) professionals. However, in these days where agile development methods are increasingly demanded, some traditional approaches are seen by some as incompatible. Whilst there is nothing about the TOGAF Standard that means that it cannot be implemented in an agile manner, the beauty of the O-AA approach is that it directly enables architecture work to be done in an agile, at scale environment.

With this in mind, we recently created The Architect’s Toolkit, reflecting the fact that those fulfilling the architecture role inside organizations will need different tools in different situations. In The Architect’s Toolkit, we have collated a portfolio of our most pertinent tools for Architects together in one place:

Additionally, for most of these tools, we have, or will have, certifications and credentials available so that practitioners can showcase that they have the skills required, and recruiters can take the guess work out of the recruitment process — all backed up by our Open Badges program.

Before we leave the topic of Enterprise Architecture, the refreshment of, and additions to, The Open Group TOGAF® Series Guides will provide an up-to-date resource for all Architects, containing guidance on how to use the TOGAF framework, including more content on using the standard with agile and digital approaches in mind. In addition to the TOGAF Series Guides, our TOGAF Library includes a large collection of White Papers addressing best practices, such as the World Class EA series of white papers.

Also in our Architecture portfolio, the ArchiMate® Forum was proud to announce in October last year the creation of the ArchiMate® User Community. The User Community is open to any practitioner who wants to discuss The Open Group ArchiMate Specification. You are encouraged to share models, examples, applied knowledge, and viewpoints. This community is hosted by The Open Group, and supported by participants of the ArchiMate Forum, as well as practitioner volunteers. Participation in The ArchiMate User Community does not require membership with The Open Group.

Another highlight of the year that cannot go unmentioned was the creation of the Open Footprint™ Forum. This Forum will create a common model for footprint-related data covering all types of emissions, consumptions (i.e. water, land, energy), and base calculations to normalize and aggregate data. This Forum has a very exciting future ahead of it and is attracting some household name participants. I’m delighted that such an important topic is being addressed directly within The Open Group, and I know that this group will be working diligently and quickly to share its output.

The OSDU™ Forum has had an incredible year – with over 175 member organizations now in the Forum, working to enable the Energy industry to develop transformational technology to support the world’s changing energy needs.

The Members are creating an open source implementation of the standard on the leading cloud platforms in the industry, and the first generally-available release of those will be with us very soon now – by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

The Open Process Automation™ Forum (OPAF) also continues to be one of the most active Forums. Its Members are working hard to consolidate their considerable efforts into the upcoming new version of the O-PAS™ Standard. This multi-industry effort is really changing the way that the next generation of systems will be architected, created, procured, and delivered in the process automation world.

The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum is continuing to evolve the IT4IT Reference Architecture, which provides a value stream approach for end-to-end IT portfolio management. 2021 is going to be an exciting year for the Forum, with the upcoming release of the next version of the standard, Version 3, which will demonstrate the shift in focus to the digital product, and digital portfolio management.

In a similar vein, the Digital Practitioner Body of Knowledge Standard assists individuals and organizations who wish to create and manage product offerings with an increasing digital component, or lead their organization to becoming a Digital-First Enterprise. The DPBoK Standard has been developed by Members of our Digital Practitioners Work Group, and is available to everyone for download via The Open Group Library. The Open Group has also made a community edition available for non-Members who may wish to contribute their expertise, with the potential to be included in future releases. There is also a considerable array of DPBoK resources that have been made available on The Open Group website, including Reference Cards, Self-Study Materials, and Pocket Guides.

Towards the end of last year, we published the Principles for Digital Standards, which represents our first step on the way to creating the Digital Enterprise – a set of principles describing how Digital Standards can be best used together to accelerate the adoption of digital practices across an organization, facilitating sustainable and enduring change. This evolving program is something that you will hear more about in the coming months.

The Open Group Security Forum made great progress in 2020 in updating the Open FAIR™ Body of Knowledge, comprised of The Open Group Risk Taxonomy (O-RT) Standard and The Open Group Risk Analysis (O-RA) Standard. These updates to the Open FAIR BoK brings O-RA to Version 2.0 and brings O-RT to Version 3.0.

The Security Forum also launched an exciting activity in the area of Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), the core principle of which is that perimeter-based approaches to security built on legacy models of identity, authentication, and authorization do not meet the needs of a digitized environment. We can expect to see a lot of interest in this area in 2021.

Meanwhile, The Open Group Healthcare Forum continues its work on the Federated Health Information Model (FHIM) to help enable widespread health information exchange. As well as this, they are collaborating with NICTIZ, (the Dutch national competence center for the electronic exchange of health and care information), to expand The Open Group O-HERA™ (Health Enterprise Reference Architecture).

2020 was also another year of great collaboration and progress with our two US-only consortia: The Open Group Future Airborne Capability Environment™ Consortium (the FACE™ Consortium) and the Sensor Open Systems Architecture Consortium (the SOSA™ Consortium). One highlight was that they jointly held their first ever virtual Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) in September 2020. The more than 450 attendees heard presentations from industry and government, detailing implementation examples and the positive impact of FACE™ and SOSA adoption for customers, suppliers, integrators, and business representatives, including both business and technical lessons learned. The SOSA Consortium is looking ahead to the release of the full Technical Standard for SOSA™ Reference Architecture, Edition 1.0, this year, whilst much of the work in the FACE Consortium is focused on market take-up, including an Accreditation Program for training materials, which Then Open Group will be helping to create and administer.

Finally, as I look across the breadth of activity inside The Open Group, I am reminded, with pride, of the truly global nature of the organization. A few highlights from the year include:

  • Our footprint in Brazil continues to grow beyond its architecture-related base, as local interest and participation increases in our other activities, particularly the Open Process Automation and OSDU Forums
  • The Open Group China team has successfully redesigned our Chinese-language website, resulting in large increases in online activity and publication downloads; there is also a vibrant localization activity, where volunteers are translating increasing numbers of our publications into Chinese
  • In India, we have seen an increase in participation from local Members, particularly around the next version of TOGAF Standard, and our certification programs continue to thrive in the region
  • In November 2020, we announced that The Open Group and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) would be working together to develop Digital Government Strategies; through this collaboration, The Open Group and ITU will aim to promote, guide, and build capabilities for digital government strategies and citizen-centric Enterprise Architecture across the globe through The Open Group Government Enterprise Architecture Work Group

As always when trying to pick out highlights, something will be missed, but I hope that you will have an increased sense of just how much is going on inside The Open Group, and the sheer breadth of activities. 2021 is likely to be our busiest year yet, with even greater numbers of Members around the world, working together to solve their real business problems through open standards. Thank you for the work you have done, and thanks in advance for the great work I know will be done in 2021!

I am really proud of how our Members, other customers, and staff have responded to the trying circumstances of 2020. Personally, it has been a privilege to witness how our community at The Open Group has come together in the face of adversity. Our collective agility, determination, and resilience has been demonstrated over and over again.

I wish you and yours a safe, healthy, and successful 2021.     @theopengroup

Steve Nunn is President and CEO of The Open Group – a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through technology standards. He is also President of the Association of Enterprise Architects (AEA).

Steve joined The Open Group in 1993, spending the majority of his time as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel.   He was also CEO of the AEA from 2010 until 2015.

Steve is a lawyer by training, has an L.L.B. (Hons) in Law with French and retains a current legal practicing certificate.  Having spent most of his life in the UK, Steve has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2007. He enjoys spending time with his family, walking, playing golf, 80s music, and is a lifelong West Ham United fan.