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Tackling Transformation in Government: A Conversation with Roland Genson

By The Open Group

It’s not just industry and corporations that are undergoing massive change due to digital transformation—governments worldwide are being equally affected by the need to create more efficient processes and to provide online services to citizens.

With 28 member states and three branches of government, the European Union (EU) is a prime example of just how complex transformation can be. We spoke with Roland Genson, Director in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union—one of the EU’s three branches—in advance of The Open Group Paris 2016 event (October 24 – 27) about the challenges the Council is facing and how they are working with the two other branches of government to achieve interoperability and Boundaryless Information Flow™.

What is the role of the General Secretariat of the Council (GSC) of the European Union? What sort of services does the Council provide?

In a nutshell, in the legislative process level at the European Union you have three institutions. The most known to the public is the European Commission, which has a role to make proposals and draft new legislation and submit it to the two co-legislators. On one side there’s the European Parliament where you have directly elected parliamentarians and on the other side, the Council of the European Union—that’s us. In the Council of the European Union you have the 28 member states represented, much like, for example, if you look at the U.S. Congress, you have the House and the Senate. As the General Secretariat, we are supporting those 28 member states in the negotiation process, meaning providing conferences, logistics and policy advice but also managing and circulating all the information they need to work in 24 European Union languages.

Why has the GSC undertaken a digital transformation? What led to that and made it necessary?

If we look back at the past, until 2014 all the institutions had their own IT strategy, their own development and so on. But today with digital transformation it’s more and more obvious that we need a fit and interoperability framework. In most of the 28 member states you have e-Government initiatives and digital transformation processes ongoing, and we are in the middle of those. We cannot just look around us and find solutions that are competitive with everyone. We believe that we have to work together on common standards and interoperability frameworks to make sure that we are able to connect to all 28 members, to connect to the other institutions, the Commission and the Parliament, otherwise it will be impossible for us—and for them—to work efficiently.

What are some of the challenges that the GSC is facing as part of the transformation?

I see at least three challenges. The first challenge is an internal one. Within our organization we need seamless information flow between all services. That’s the first place where boundaryless needs to kick in to get rid of existing silos, to eliminate disruptions  between services.

The second challenge is “Brussels-based,” which means the need to have Boundaryless Information Flow between EU institutions. When a proposal comes from the Commission, it should enter into the Council and the European Parliament without any new disruption or without any data or format conversion. Our target should be an end-to-end legislative drafting and negotiation process between the Commission, Council and the Parliament.

The third challenge is to become boundaryless with regard to the GSC’s main stakeholders, which are our member states, so that we are able to serve all 28 member states (MS) with standardized content that can immediately be used and linked within each MS subject to national needs, specifications or legal requirements.

Furthermore, as an additional challenge, we also have responsibility with regard to the European citizens, so public information that our organization deals with can easily be made available and understood for further analyses and exploitation by the interested citizen. It’s our challenge to get EU knowledge out to the civil society.

How are those challenges being addressed as part of the project? How long has your transformation project been going on?

I took over the responsibility for this newly created directorate in 2014 with a clear shift from IT to business outcome or value. A lot of organizations had gone on the same path where, until a certain point, the digital environment was mainly designed by IT departments. We really have now a situation where the business needs and expectations come first. Internal clients and our stakeholders outside are our first priority and on the basis of their perspectives we should see what standards and subsequent IT solutions allow us to get there. We started this business driven process in 2014. Moreover my concern was to have it immediately started together with the other institutions, because it doesn’t make sense for the Council alone to try to find a way for “its” future when the European Commission and the European Parliament have the same challenges. I believe progress made on interoperability solutions for European public administrations (ISA) is equally a valid framework for all institutions to set the necessary standards. And with the European Interoperability Framework, the EIF, we would also have another basis for the GSC’s digital developments. Though we started late in 2014, there are quite a number of approaches, standards and tools that we can take on board and consider as viable options for the future.

Are standards being used to address the challenges of the project?

Absolutely. For example, today we write all of our structured documents on a MS Word-based tool, specifically designed for all our services. Today, this doesn’t make sense anymore. We understand that all the content drafting shall be XML-based, and when discussing with the Commission and the European Parliament, we understand that for legislative process marking, AKOMA NTOSO is the right standard, which leads us to explore the  market, where common standards have already been shared and explored by other communities or organizations.

What role is Enterprise Architecture playing in your transformation?

Our task today is to get all key business processes designed and  documented—getting a clear view on this and assessing them according to corporate’s strategy, priorities and challenges. As mentioned before, it’s rather complicated in the sense that we have to get it aligned in-house, but also with the Commission and the European Parliament and eventually with the member states. Somehow we have to find the best and easiest standard and operating model to get there. What I would like to avoid is to set up a new set of processes which would be too rigid and would not allow us to meet the necessary flexibility some services might need.

What advice do you have for those undertaking digital transformation within government? What do people need to think about when they’re working with government entities as opposed to corporations or businesses?

The General Secretariat of the Council is probably one of the smallest organizations in Brussels but when we look at the “Council” and the “European Council,” the two institutions we serve, the challenge ahead is quite impressive. We have to serve hundreds of ministers plus a community of national officials, front line delegates and back office support, which easily covers more than 200,000 people. Obviously we cannot enter into negotiations with 28 member states to see what would be the best standard or framework but we cannot ignore that things are going on. What we try to do is to identify digital champions and undertake a number of exchange of views  to see what to move on.

As an example, we had a visit to Austria, as the Austrian government is already far advanced in digital transformation. We will have next year the Estonian presidency for the European Union. Estonia is also a digital champion, so we will try to learn from their experience and take advantage of their presidency in order to launch new services and test to see if things meet the needs of most member states. If not, we will swiftly adapt and explore something else. It will be a different, an experimental approach. We need to engage with Member States and vice versa, to trigger a greater awareness of what delegations would like to achieve in terms of content and knowledge delivery.

What role can standards play in helping government with transformation efforts?

For me it’s rather obvious, that if we agree on the same standards in our organizations, all stakeholders would know what the criteria would be, for example when launching a public procurement. It would make multilateral interactions a lot easier. We would not just look at one specific tool or software and see what is compatible, we’d just refer to the standards as a basis. Everyone would know about that standard and subsequently be ensured that products based on that standard are interoperable, are compatible with the institutions or with my neighbor states. Standards also offer semantics. We work in 24 languages. If we want to be sure that one terminology is always used in the same way in different languages, we also need to invest a lot in semantic interoperability.

What standards are you looking at or currently using?

We plan to use TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, in close collaboration with our colleagues on the IT-side for business process management. We want to have a well-documented process map of the organization to allow this smart integration, interoperability and processing of the information. It’s the business architecture part of TOGAF.

Are there other things that governments need to consider when doing transformation projects?

In my view, what is crucial is to have a genuine engagement of all stakeholders at the highest level.. The three Secretary-Generals from the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council expressed their commitment in this respect. To make the expected progress, we equally need a full commitment by all Council members, e.g. national delegations. So we will learn from them and they will learn from us and we will be able to achieve results together to transform our organization. For me, this is crucial. It’s a change in the mindset, but we need to adapt to be able to quickly exchange best practices, lessons and failures, as a way to make progress.

@theopengroup #ogPARIS

by-the-open-groupRoland Genson is director at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, in charge of the Council’s document processing, recording, archiving, transparency and of the GSC’s libraries. He drives the redesign of the GSC’s knowledge and information management in order to align the organisation with digital innovation and with Member States expectations in this respect.

Until 2014, he was a GSC director covering Schengen, judicial cooperation and internal security cooperation under the Justice and Home Affairs policy framework.

From 1987 to 2007, he served in the Luxembourg law enforcement sector and than at the Ministry of Justice.

He is also a lecturer at the Universities of Luxemburg and of Liège.

Mr. Genson will be a keynote speaker at The Open Group Paris 2016 event on October 24.


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The Role of Enterprise Architecture in Platform 3.0 Transformation

By Stuart Macgregor, CEO, Real IRM and The Open Group South Africa

Our transition to the highly-connected realm of Platform 3.0 will radically disrupt the way that we approach Enterprise Architecture (EA).

The current architectures and methodologies will simply not hold up in the era of Platform 3.0 – characterised by the forces of big data, mobility, the Internet of Things, and social media colliding.

In the Platform 3.0 era, power shifts to the customer – as we choose from a range of services offered conveniently via digital channels. By embracing Platform 3.0, organisations can respond to newly-empowered customers. New entrants can scale at unprecedented rates, and incumbents can pivot business models rapidly, while entering and exiting new markets as opportunities emerge.

EA plays an essential role in making these possibilities a reality. EA infuses IT into the DNA of the business. No longer is it about ‘IT’ and ‘business’. Technology is absolutely integral to the entire business, and business leaders are quickly realising the fundamental truth that ‘if you can’t change the system, you can’t change the business’.

A new and exciting Platform 3.0 architectural reality is emerging. It’s composed of microservices and platforms that are combined in radical new ways to serve point-in-time needs – powering new-found business opportunities and revenue streams, dramatically transforming your organisation.

Platform 3.0 refers to radically different ways for the organisation to securely engage with partners, suppliers, and others in your value chain or ecosystem.”

Managing volatile change

But, while driven by an urgent need to transform, to become faster and more agile, large organisations are often constrained by legacy infrastructure.

With an EA-focused approach, organisations can take a step back, and design a set of architectures to manage the volatile change that’s inherent in today’s quickly-digitising industries. EA allows business systems in different departments to be united, creating what The Open Group (the vendor-neutral global IT standards and certifications consortium) aptly describes as a “boundaryless” flow of information throughout the organisation.

Platform 3.0 refers to radically different ways for the organisation to securely engage with partners, suppliers, and others in your value chain or ecosystem. For a retailer, stock suppliers could access real-time views of your inventory levels and automatically prepare new orders. Or a factory, for example, could allow downstream distributors a view of the production facility, to know when the latest batch run will be ready for collection.

In almost every industry, there are a number of new disruptors offering complementary service offerings to incumbent players (such as Fintech players in the Banking industry). To embrace partnerships, venture-capital opportunities, and acquisitions, organisations need extensible architectural platforms.

More and more transactions are moving between organisations via connected, instantaneous, automated platforms. We’re seeing the fulfilment of The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™ between organisations and fuels greater efficiencies.

Architecting for an uncertain future

We need to architect for an uncertain future, resigning ourselves to not always knowing what will come next, but being prepared with an architectural approach that enables the discovery of next-generation digital business opportunities.

By exploring open standards, this transformation can be accelerated. The concept of ‘openness’ is at the very heart of Platform 3.0-based business transformation. As different business systems fall into and out of favour, you’ll want to benefit from new innovations by quickly unplugging one piece of the infrastructure, and plugging in a new piece.

Open standards allow us to evolve from our tired and traditional applications, to dynamic catalogues of microservices and APIs that spark continuous business evolution and renewal. Open standards help up to reach a state of radical simplicity with our architecture.

The old-world view of an application is transformed into new applications – volatile and continually morphing – combining sets of APIs that run microservices, and serve a particular business need at a particular point-in-time. These APIs and microservices will form the basis for whatever application we’d like to build on top of it.

Architects need to prepare themselves and their organisations for an uncertain future, where technology’s evolution and businesses’ changing demands are not clearly known. By starting with a clear understanding of the essential building blocks, and the frameworks to re-assemble these in new ways in the future, one can architect for the uncertain future lying in wait.

Platform 3.0 requires a shift towards “human-centered architectures”: where we start acknowledging that there’s no single version of the truth. Depending on one’s role and skill-set, and the level of detail they require, everyone will perceive the organisation’s structure and processes differently.

But ultimately, it’s not about the user, or the technology, or the architecture itself. The true value resides in the content, and not the applications that house, transmit or present that content. Human-centered architectural principles place the emphasis on the content, and the way in which different individuals (from inside or outside the organisation) need to use that content in their respective roles.

As the EA practice formalises intellectual capital in the form of business models and rules, we create an environment for machine learning and artificial intelligence to play an essential role in the future of the organisation. Many describe this as the future of Platform 3.0, perhaps even the beginning of Platform 4.0?

Where this will eventually lead us is both exciting and terrifying.



Stuart Macgregor is the CEO, Real IRM Solutions and  The Open Group South Africa. 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®, an Open Group standard. This mapping document was published by ISACA and The Open Group. He participated in the COBIT 5 development workshop held in London in 2010.

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Enterprise Architects “Know Nothing”: A Conversation with Ron Tolido

By The Open Group

It has been well documented that the digital economy is sending many companies—not to mention industries— into a tailspin. Customer expectations, demands for innovation and a rapid change are creating an IT landscape that is not only difficult to manage but nearly impossible to predict. And according to Capgemini’s Ron Tolido, Enterprise Architects need to prepare to function in a world where they have no idea what type of solutions and innovations their clients may need, even in the near future—a world where Enterprise Architects “know nothing.”

Tolido, who spoke at The Open Group London 2016 in April, believes organizations must begin to look to “I don’t know” architectures if they are to survive in the digital economy. Traditional IT methods and architectural practices that were established during the 1980s and 1990s are no longer relevant in the digital age.

Because customer and business needs are constantly changing there really is no way to know what IT landscapes will look like in the future or what type of solutions organizations will need, Tolido says. Therefore, rather than asking clients what they need, IT must instead provide users an architected platform of services that can be mixed and matched to meet a variety needs, enabling business customers to go in any direction they want.

As such, Tolido says Enterprise Architects in this emerging digital era are comparable to the character Jon Snow from HBO’s Game of Thronesa character who is often told “You know nothing.” Like Jon Snow, today Enterprise Architects effectively know nothing because businesses have no idea what the future will hold, whether two days or ten years from now. With new business scenarios developing in real-time, architectures can no longer be painstakingly planned for or designed.

So where does that leave Enterprise Architects? What can they offer in a world where they know nothing and are heading blindly into an environment that is constantly in flux?

Tolido says it’s time for enterprise architectures to stop trying to make predictions as to what architectures should look like and instead provide the business a digital platform that will allow for a new style of architecting, one that drives continuous transformation rather than requirements-driven, step-by-step change.

To do this, Tolido says Enterprise Architects must enable “the art of the possible” within organizations, providing their clients with a catalog of possibilities—a listing of potential things they could be doing to help companies continually transform themselves.

This is a huge shift for most IT departments, Tolido says, which are still stuck in the mindset that the business is different from IT and that business requirements must drive IT initiatives, with architecture sitting somewhere between the two. No longer can architects be content to place architectures somewhere in the middle between the business and IT, Tolido says, because in the next generation of IT—the era of the platform—there is no distinction between business and IT. They are one and the same. With the “third platform”—or Open Platform 3.0™—the platform must allow the business to continually adapt to the needs of customers and market forces.

This brave new world will also require Enterprise Architects to become more adaptable themselves and give up control of their architectures, Tolido says. The role of architects is evolving with them becoming business enablers, or platform “maesters.”

Currently, many established enterprises are having a difficult time adjusting to this new reality; thus all the digital disruption we are seeing across industries, Tolido says. Start-ups and newer technology players have some advantage here because they are already in a state of change and their systems have been designed to deal with that.

One way, Tolido suggests, that enterprises can make transformation easier on themselves would be to create a “parallel IT universe” alongside their existing systems that explores a more service-oriented model and allows for them to transition. Although such a system might cannibalize existing services or products, it may also be the only way to keep up with disruptive market forces. “Better to eat yourself and be your own disruptor than have someone else do it to you,” Tolido says.

As “platform maesters,” Enterprise Architects will also need to become much more proactive in helping company stakeholders understand the necessity of a platform play for continuous business transformation. That means proving that the EA role is much more about designing a continuously enabling platform than actually designing solutions, which is a shift in role for EAs. Tolido believes EAs must also become better at telling the digital story and outlining the business possibilities that services can enable. “They need to become real change agents. This will require more imagination from architects as well.”

Enabling unhindered, continuous transformation may actually allow businesses to move closer to The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™, Tolido says. Standards will have a significant role to play here because companies designing platforms that allow for constant change will need the help of standards. The work being done in The Open Group Open Platform 3.0 Forum can help organizations better understand what open platforms designed for micro services and ad hoc application composition will look like. For example, Tolido says, the concept of the Open Business Data Lake—an environment that combines services, data retrieval and storage in a fluid way to provides dynamic outlets and uses for the data, is an indicator of how the landscape will look differently. “Standards are crucial for helping people understand how that landscape should look and giving guidance as to how organizations can work with microservices and agility,” Tolido says.

Despite all the upheaval going on at companies and in IT today, Tolido believes these are exciting times for IT because the discipline is going through a revolution that will effect everything that businesses do. Although it may take some adjustments for Enterprise Architects, Tolido says the new landscape will provide a lot of compelling challenges for architects who accept that they know “nothing”, go with the flow and who can adapt to uncertainty.

“It’s a new world. There’s more change than you can absorb right now. Better enjoy the ride.”


By The Open Group

Ron Tolido is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Application Services Continental Europe, Capgemini. He is also a Director on The Open Group Governing Board and blogger for Capgemini’s multiple award-winning CTO blog, as well as the lead author of Capgemini’s TechnoVision and the global Application Landscape Reports. As a noted Digital Transformation ambassador, Tolido speaks and writes about IT strategy, innovation, applications and architecture. Based in the Netherlands, Mr. Tolido currently takes interest in apps rationalization, Cloud, enterprise mobility, the power of open, Slow Tech, process technologies, the Internet of Things, Design Thinking and – above all – radical simplification.



Filed under Boundaryless Information Flow™, Business Transformation, Data Lake, digital technologies, Enterprise Architecture, enterprise architecture, Enterprise Transformation, Internet of Things, IoT, Open Platform 3.0, Ron Tolido, Standards, The Open Group

The Open Group San Francisco 2016 Day One Highlights

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Communications, The Open Group

On Monday, January 25, The Open Group kicked off its first event of 2016, focused on Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™, at the Marriott Union Square in the city by the bay, San Francisco, California.

President and CEO Steve Nunn gave a warm welcome to over 250 attendees from 18 countries, including Botswana, China and The Netherlands. He introduced the morning’s plenary, which centered on Digital Business and the Customer Experience. This year also marks a major milestone for The Open Group, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016.

The Open Group Director of Interoperability Dr. Chris Harding kicked off the morning’s event speaking on “Doing Digital Business.”

Digital technology is transforming business today. As such, how Enterprise Architects can architect for and deliver better customer experience is a more critical factor for businesses today than ever before. For thousands of years, most business transactions happened face-to-face with human interaction at the heart of them. The Internet has changed that, largely taking humans out of the equation in favor of “intelligent” programs that provide customer service. As Enterprise Architects, the challenge now is to create corporate systems and personas that mimic human interaction to provide better service levels. To achieve that, Harding says, currently companies are looking at a number of improved models including providing microservices, Cloud architectures and data lakes.

To better enable the transformation toward digital customer experiences, The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Forum is currently working on an interoperability standard to support a variety of services that run on digital platforms. In addition, the Digital Business and Customer Experience Work Group—a joint work group of Open Platform 3.0 and the Architecture Forums—is currently working on customer-based architectures, as well as a whitepaper geared toward enabling better customer experiences for digital business.

In the second session of the morning, Mark Skilton of PA Consulting addressed the issue of “The Battle for Owning the Digital Spaces”. Skilton says that in this era of unprecedented digital information, we need to better understand all of that information in order to create business opportunities—however, much of that information is contained in the “gray” spaces in between interactions. Accessing that kind of data provides opportunities for businesses to get a better handle on how to provide digital experiences that will draw customers. It also requires “ecosystem” thinking where what is happening on both the micro and macro levels should be considered.

As such, companies must reconsider what it means to be an enterprise, platform or even a service. This requires a new way of looking at architectures that combines both physical and virtual environments to take advantage of those “gray” spaces in people’s lives. By interconnecting or “flattening” out people’s experiences, such as their work, living, commercial or social spaces, they will be allowed to take their digital experiences with them throughout their lives. To enable these things moving forward, architects will need to change their mindsets to think differently and consider experience more rather than just architectures. Behavior, interactivity, psychology, usability—the human factors—of advanced customer experience will need to be considered in the architecture development process more to create more connected spaces to meet people’s needs.

Trevor Cheung, Vice President Strategy & Architecture Practice for Huawei Global Services, spoke next on “Architecting for Customer Experience.” Cheung introduced the concept of the ROADS Experience, a principle for designing customer-driven architectures. According to Cheung, ROADS (Real-time, On-demand, All-online, DIY and Social) is critical for companies that want to become digital service providers. As organizations digitalize, they should think more holistically about customer experiences—including both internal (employees) and external audiences (customers, partners, etc.)—moving from an inside-out IT perspective to one that also considers outside-in constituencies.

For example, to provide omni-channel experiences, business architectures must focus on the values of stakeholders across the ecosystem—from buyers and their interests, to partners and suppliers or operations. By applying the ROADS principle, each stakeholder, or persona, can be considered along the way to develop an architecture blue print that covers all channels and experiences, mapping the needs back to the technologies needed to provide specific capabilities. Currently two whitepapers are being developed in the Digital Business and Customer Experience Work Group that explore these issues, including a new reference model for customer architectures.

In the last morning session Jeff Matthews, Director of Venture Strategy and Research, Space Frontier Foundation, presented “The Journey to Mars is Powered by Data: Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™ within NASA.” Currently, NASA’s programs, particularly its endeavors to send people to Mars, are being enabled by complex Enterprise Architectures that govern each of the agency’s projects.

According to Matthews, nothing goes through NASA’s planning without touching Enterprise Architecture. Although the agency has a relatively mature architecture, they are continually working to breakdown silos within the agency to make their architectures more boundaryless.

Ideally, NASA believes, removing boundaries will give them better access to the data they need, allowing the agency to evolve to a more modular architecture. In addition, they are looking at a new decision-making operating model that will help them grapple with the need to buy technologies and setting up architectures now for programs that are being planned for 10-30 years in the future. To help them do this, Matthews encouraged audience members and vendors to reach out to him to talk about architectural strategies.

In addition to the event proceedings, The Open Group also hosted the inaugural meeting of the TOGAF® User Group on Monday. Aimed at bringing together TOGAF users and stakeholders in order to share information, best practices and learning, the day-long meeting featured topics relative to how to better use TOGAF in practicality. Attendees participated in a number of breakout sessions regarding the standard, intended to provide opportunities to share experiences and enlighten others on how to best use TOGAF as well as provide suggestions as to how the standard can be improved upon in the future.

Allen Brown, current interim CEO of the Association of Enterprise Architects (AEA), and former CEO of The Open Group, also introduced the AEA Open Badges Program for Professional Development. Much like badge programs for the Boy or Girl Scouts, the Open Badge program lets people demonstrate their professional achievements via digital badges that provide credentials for skills or achievements learned. Moving forward, the AEA will be providing digital badges, each of which will include embedded information showing the information learned to earn the badge. Attendees can earn badges for attending this conference. For more information, email OpenBadges@GlobalAEA.org.

Monday’s afternoon tracks were split into two tracks centered on Open Platform 3.0™ and Risk, Dependability and Trusted Technology. The Open Platform 3.0 track continued in the same vein as the morning’s sessions looking at how Enterprise Architectures must adapt to the changes due to digitalization and growing customer expectations. Accenture Enterprise Architect Syed Husain gave an insightful presentation on enabling contextual architectures and increased personalization using artificial intelligence. As both consumers and technology become increasingly sophisticated, demands for individualized preferences tailored to individuals are growing. Companies that want to keep up will need to take these demands into account as they evolve their infrastructures. In the Security track, sessions centered on privacy governance, best practices for adopting the Open FAIR Risk Management standard and dealing with cyber security risks as well as how to navigate the matrix of data classification to maximize data protection practices.

Concluding the day was an evening reception where event and TOGAF User Group attendees mixed, mingled and networked. The reception featured The Open Group Partner Pavilion, as well as short presentations from The Open Group Architecture, IT4IT™ and Open Platform 3.0 Forums.

@theopengroup #ogSFO

By Loren K. BaynesLoren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, joined The Open Group in 2013 and spearheads corporate marketing initiatives, primarily the website, blog, media relations and social media. Loren has over 20 years experience in brand marketing and public relations and, prior to The Open Group, was with The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. Loren holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. She is based in the US.

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The Open Group to Hold Next Event in San Francisco

The Open Group, the vendor-neutral IT consortium, is hosting its next event in San Francisco January 25-28. The Open Group San Francisco 2016 will focus on how Enterprise Architecture is empowering companies to build better systems by architecting for digital business strategies. The event will go into depth on this topic through various individual sessions and keynotes.

Some of the many topics of discussion at the event include Business Architecture; how to architect systems using tools and frameworks such as TOGAF® and ArchiMate® (both Open Group standards); Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC); Risk Management and Cybersecurity; Business Transformation; Professional Development, and improving the security and dependability of IT, including the global supply chain on which they rely.

Key speakers at the event, taking place at San Francisco’s Marriott Union Square, include:

  • Steve Nunn,  President & CEO, The Open Group
  • Trevor Cheung, VP Strategy and Architecture Practice, Huawei Global Services
  • Jeff Matthews, Director of Venture Strategy and Research, Space Frontier Foundation
  • Ajit Gaddam, Chief Security Architect, Visa
  • Eric Cohen, Chief Enterprise Architect, Thales
  • Heather Kreger, Distinguished Engineer, CTO International Standards, IBM

Full details on the range of track speakers at the event can be found here.

There will also be the inaugural TOGAF® User Group meeting taking place on January 25. Facilitated breakout sessions will bring together key stakeholders and users to share best practices, information and learn from each other.

Other subject areas at the three day event will include:

  • Open Platform 3.0™ – The Customer Experience and Digital Business
  • IT4IT – Managing the Business of IT. Case study presentations and a vendor panel to discuss the release of The Open Group IT4IT Reference Architecture Version 2.0 standard
    • Plus deep dive presentations into the four streams of the IT Value Chain along with the latest information on the IT4IT training and certification program.
  • EA & Business Transformation – Understand what role EA, as currently practiced, plays in Business Transformation, especially transformations driven by emerging and disruptive technologies.
  • Risk, Dependability & Trusted Technology – The cybersecurity connection – securing the global supply chain.
  • Enabling Healthcare
  • TOGAF® 9 and ArchiMate® – Case studies and the harmonization of the standards.
  • Understand how to develop better interoperability & communication across organizational boundaries and pursue global standards for Enterprise Architecture that are highly relevant to all industries.

Registration for The Open Group San Francisco is open now, is available to members and non-members, and can be found here.

Join the conversation @theopengroup #ogSFO

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The Open Group Edinburgh 2015 Highlights

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, The Open Group

On Monday October 19, Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group, welcomed over 230 attendees from 26 countries to the Edinburgh International Conference Center located in the heart of historic Edinburgh, Scotland.

Allen kicked off the morning with an overview of company achievements and third quarter activities. The Open Group has over 500 member organizations in 42 countries, with the newest members coming from Peru and Zambia. Allen provided highlights of the many activities of our Forums and Work Groups. Too many to list, but white papers, guides, snapshots and standards have been published and continue to be in development. The newest Work Group is Digital Business Strategy and Customer Experience. The UDEF Work Group is now named O-DEF (Open – Data Element Framework) Work Group. The Real Time and Embedded Systems Forum is becoming more focused on critical systems and high assurance. Our members and staff have been very productive as always!

The morning plenary featured the theme “Architecting Business Transformation” with BAES Submarines. Speakers were Stephen Cole, CIO, BAE Systems Maritime Submarines; John Wilcock, Head of Operations Transformation, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions; Matthew Heard, Senior Operations Engineer, BAE Systems Maritime Submarines; and Paul Homan, Enterprise Architect, IBM. The presentation included a history of BAES Submarines and a ‘case study’ on using TOGAF® to help define BAE’s strategy for transforming their operations and production functions. The gentlemen all advocated the need to continue to drive change and transformation through the TOGAF principles. TOGAF has provided a structured, standardized approach to solving functional problems. TOGAF also ultimately allows organizations to document and measure their success along the way for meeting business objectives.

Following the keynotes, all presenters joined Allen for a panel consisting of an engaging Q&A with the audience.

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsPaul Homan, John Wilcock, Matthew Heard, Stephen Cole, Allen Brown

In the afternoon, the agenda offered several tracks on Risk, Dependability and Trusted Technology; EA and Business Transformation and Open Platform 3.0™.

One of the many sessions was “Building the Digital Enterprise – from Digital Disruption to Digital Experience” with Mark Skilton, Digital Expert, and Rob Mettler, Director of Digital Business, both with PA Consulting. The speakers discussed the new Work Group of The Open Group – Digital Business and Customer Experience, which is in the early stage of researching and developing a framework for the digital boom and new kind of ecosystem. The group examines how the channels from 15 years ago compare to today’s multi-device/channel work requiring a new thinking and process, while “always keeping in mind, customer behavior is key”.

The evening concluded with a networking Partner Pavilion (IT4IT™, The Open Group Open Platform™ and Enterprise Architecture) and a whisky tasting by the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre.

Tuesday, October 20th began with another warm Open Group welcome by Allen Brown.

Allen and Ron Ashkenas, Senior Partner, Schaffer Consulting presented “A 20-year Perspective on the Boundaryless Organization and Boundaryless Information Flow™. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same”.

Ron shared his vision of how the book “The Boundaryless Organization” came to light and was published in 1995. He discussed his experiences working with Jack Welch to progress GE (General Electric). Their pondering included “can staff/teams be more nimble without boundaries and layers?”. After much discussion, the concept of ‘boundaryless’ was born. The book showed companies how to sweep away the artificial obstacles – such as hierarchy, turf, and geography – that get in the way of outstanding business performance. The presentation was a great retrospective of boundaryless and The Open Group. But they also explored the theme of ‘How does boundaryless fit today in light of the changing world?’. The vision of The Open Group is Boundaryless Information Flow.

Allen emphasized that “then standards were following the industry, now their leading the industry”. Boundaryless Information Flow does not mean no boundaries exist. Boundaryless means aspects are permeable to boundaries to enable business, yet not prohibit it.

During the next session, Allen announced the launch of the IT4IT™ Reference Architecture v2.0 Standard. Chris Davis, University of South Florida and Chair of The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum, provided a brief overview of IT4IT and the standard. The Open Group IT4IT Reference Architecture is a standard reference architecture and value chain-based operating model for managing the business of IT.

After the announcement, Mary Jarrett, IT4IT Manager, Shell, presented “Rationale for Adopting an Open Standard for Managing IT”. In her opening, she stated her presentation was an accountant’s view of IT4IT and the Shell journey. Mary’s soundbites included: “IT adds value to businesses and increases revenue and profits; ideas of IT are changing and we need to adapt; protect cyber back door as well as physical front door.”

The afternoon tracks consisted of IT4IT™, EA Practice & Professional Development, Open Platform 3.0™, and Architecture Methods and Techniques.

The evening concluded with a fantastic private function at the historic Edinburgh Castle. Bagpipes, local culinary offerings including haggis, and dancing were enjoyed by all!

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications

Edinburgh Castle

On Wednesday and Thursday, work sessions and member meetings were held.

A special ‘thank you’ goes to our sponsors and exhibitors: BiZZdesign; Good e-Learning, HP, Scape, Van Haren Publishing and AEA.

Other content, photos and highlights can be found via #ogEDI on Twitter.  Select videos are on The Open Group YouTube channel. For full agenda and speakers, please visit The Open Group Edinburgh 2015.

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsLoren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, joined The Open Group in 2013 and spearheads corporate marketing initiatives, primarily the website, blog, media relations and social media. Loren has over 20 years experience in brand marketing and public relations and, prior to The Open Group, was with The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. Loren holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. She is based in the US.

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The Open Group Edinburgh—The State of Boundaryless Information Flow™ Today

By The Open Group

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first version of TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, and the publication of “The Boundaryless Organization,” a book that defined how companies should think about creating more open, flexible and engaging organizations. We recently sat down with The Open Group President and CEO Allen Brown and Ron Ashkenas, Senior Partner at Schaffer Consulting and one of the authors of “The Boundaryless Organization,” to get a perspective on Boundaryless Information Flow™ and where the concept stands today. Brown and Ashkenas presented their perspectives on this topic at The Open Group Edinburgh event on Oct. 20.

In the early 1990s, former GE CEO Jack Welch challenged his team to create what he called a “boundaryless organization”—an organization where the barriers between employees, departments, customers and suppliers had been broken down. He also suggested that in the 21st Century, all organizations would need to move in this direction.

Based on the early experience of GE, and a number of other companies, the first book on the subject, “The Boundaryless Organization,” was published in 1995. This was the same year that The Open Group released the first version of the TOGAF® standard, which provided an architectural framework to help companies achieve interoperability by providing a structure for interconnecting legacy IT systems. Seven years later, The Open Group adopted the concept of Boundaryless Information Flow™—achieved through global interoperability in a secure, reliable and timely manner—as the ongoing vision and mission for the organization. According to Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group, that vision has sustained The Open Group over the years and continues to do so as the technology industry faces unprecedented and rapid change.

Brown’s definition of Boundaryless Information Flowis rooted in the notion of permeability. Ron Ashkenas, a co-author of “The Boundaryless Organization” emphasizes that organizations still need boundaries—without some boundaries they would become “dis-organized.” But like the cells walls in the human body, those boundaries need to be sufficiently permeable so that information can easily flow back and forth in real time, without being distorted, fragmented or blocked.

In that context, Brown believes that learning to be boundaryless today is more important than ever for organizations, despite the fact that many of the boundaries that existed in 1995 no longer exist, and the technical ability to share information around the world will continue to evolve. What often holds organizations back however, says Ashkenas, are the social and cultural patterns within organizations, not the technology.

“We have a tendency to protect information in different parts of the organization,” says Ashkenas. “Different functions, locations, and business units want their own version of ‘the truth’ rather than being held accountable to a common standard. This problem becomes even more acute across companies in a globally connected ecosystem and world. So despite our technological capabilities, we still end up with different systems, different information available at different times. We don’t have the common true north. The need to be more boundaryless is still there.  In fact it’s greater now, even though we have the capability to do it.”

Although the technical capabilities for Boundaryless Information Flow are largely here, the larger issue is getting people to agree and collaborate on how to do things. As Ashkenas explains, “It’s not just the technical challenges, it’s also cultural challenges, and the two have to go hand-in-hand.”

What’s more, collaboration is not just an issue of getting individuals to change, but of making changes at much larger levels on a much larger scale. Not only are boundaries now blurring within organizations, they’re blurring between institutions and across global ecosystems, which may include anything from apps, devices and technologies to companies, countries and cultures.

Ashkenas says that’s where standards, such as those being created by The Open Group, can help make a difference.  He says, “Standards used to come after technology. Now they need to come before the changes and weave together some of the ecosystem partners. I think that’s one of the exciting new horizons for The Open Group and its members—they can make a fundamental difference in the next few years.”

Brown agrees. He says that there are two major forces currently facing how The Open Group will continue to shape the Boundaryless Information Flow vision. One is the need for standards to address the changing perspective needed of the IT function from an “inside-out” to “outside-in” model fueled by a combination of boundaryless thinking and the convergence of social, mobile, Cloud, the Internet of Things and Big Data. The other is the need to shift from IT strategies being derived from business strategies and reacting to the business agenda that leads to redundancy and latency in delivering new solutions. Instead, IT must shift to recognize technology as increasingly driving business opportunity and that IT must be managed as a business in its own right.

For example, twenty years ago a standard might lag behind a technology. Once companies no longer needed to compete on the technology, Brown says, they would standardize. With things like Open Platform 3.0™ and the need to manage the business of IT (IT4IT™) quickly changing the business landscape, now standards need to be at the forefront, along with technology development, so that companies have guidance on how to navigate a more boundaryless world while maintaining security and reliability.

“This is only going to get more and more exciting and more and more interesting,” Brown says.

How boundaryless are we?

Just how boundaryless are we today? Ashkenas says a lot has been accomplished in the past 20 years. Years ago, he says, people in most organizations would have thought that Boundaryless Information Flow was either not achievable or they would have shrugged their shoulders and ignored the concept. Today there’s a strong acceptance of the need for it. In fact, a recent survey of The Open Group members found that 65 percent of those surveyed believe boundarylessness as a positive thing within their organization. And while most organizations are making strides toward boundarylessness, only a minority–15 percent—of those surveyed felt that Boundaryless Information Flow was something that would be impossible to achieve in a large international organization such as theirs.

According to Brown and Ashkenas, the next horizon for many organizations will be to truly make information flow more accessible in real-time for all stakeholders. Ashkenas says in most organizations the information people need is not always available when people need it, whether this is due to different systems, cultural constraints or even time zones. The next step will be to provide managers real-time, anywhere access to all the information they need. IT can help play a bigger part in providing people a “one truth” view of information, he says.

Another critical—but potentially difficult—next step is to try to get people to agree on how to make boundarylessness work across ecosystems. Achieving this will be a challenge because ways of doing things—even standards development—will need to adapt to different cultures in order for them to ultimately work. What makes sense in the U.S. or Europe from a business standpoint may not make sense in China or India or Brazil, for example.

“What are the fundamentals that have to be accepted by everyone and where is there room for customization to local cultures?” asks Ashkenas. “Figuring out the difference between the two will be critical in the coming years.”

Brown and Ashkenas say that we can expect technical innovations to evolve at greater speed and with greater effectiveness in the coming years. This is another reason why Enterprise Architecture and standards development will be critical for helping organizations transform themselves and adapt as boundaries blur even more.

As Brown notes, the reason that the architecture discipline and standards such as TOGAF arose 20 years ago was exactly because organizations were beginning to move toward boundarylessness and they needed a way to figure out how to frame those environments and make them work together. Before then, when IT departments were implementing different siloed systems for different functions across organizations, they had no inkling that someday people might need to share that information across systems or departments, let alone organizations.

“It never crossed our minds that we’d need to add people or get information from disparate systems and put them together to make some sense. It wasn’t information, it was just data. The only way in any complex organization that you can start weaving this together and see how they join together is to have some sort of architecture, an overarching view of the enterprise. Complex organizations have that view and say ‘this is how that information comes together and this is how it’s going to be designed.’ We couldn’t have gotten there without Enterprise Architecture in large organizations,” he says.

In the end, the limitations to Boundaryless Information Flow will largely be organizational and cultural, not a question of technology. Technologically boundarylessness is largely achievable. The question for organizations, Brown says, is whether they’ll be able to adjust to the changes that technology brings.

“The limitations are in the organization and the culture. Can they make the change? Can they absorb it all? Can they adapt?” he says.

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