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Using Apprenticeships to Develop Your IT Workforce: A Conversation with Andy Ruth

By The Open Group

It’s no secret that the IT workforce is suffering from a skills gap. Not only are there not enough workers available to fill tech positions at many companies, but even the workers available may not possess the skills that companies need today to deal with the rapid changes being brought about by digital transformation.

Andy Ruth, Managing Director of Sustainable Evolution, spoke at The Open Group Austin 2016 in July about one way companies can tackle the skills gap—apprenticeship programs. We spoke with Andy about the state of the IT workforce, why apprenticeship works and how it can help bring a new and more diverse population of workers into the IT workforce.

What are some of the things currently stymieing the IT work force?

There are a couple different things that are really a challenge. We have an older workforce that is being replaced in large part by a younger workforce. That younger workforce is smaller and many don’t have fundamental knowledge of what’s going on under the covers because they grew up learning in a world with higher levels of abstraction. For instance, if someone learns Python or Rails, they may not have the deeper understanding and stronger foundations that they might if they were to start with C or C+. I was coaching a kid that’s going to MIT, and he asked ‘What do I need to do while I’m there?’ I suggested he build an operating system for one of the new IoT processors and learn the C language. He countered with ‘Well, C’s not in use anymore and nobody builds operating systems,’ to which I said, ‘Perhaps, but that builds deep understanding and good fundamentals. You’ll know how things work and you can think deeply about it. That’s what you need is that foundation, just like you need to be able to do simple math before algebra, trig and physics.’ So, I think part of it is the shift in what and how the workforce learns.

We also are in a time of such tremendous change in IT. IT is about people, process and technology. In the past we have had big shifts in technology, then we change process and people to match. Right now we have change in all three, each having an impact on the other two. Technology change is the easiest to adopt since we are geeks and naturally track it. Process change is a bit more challenging and not as interesting, so a bit harder. People are the hardest to change because they like working the way they like to work. They don’t like to be told what to do or how to do it, and really don’t feel they need someone to tell them they need to change. Having change in people, process and technology at the same time is disruptive to people.

The change is especially hard for architects since we typically have a number of years in the industry and everything is completely different from what we grew up with. We are responsible for planning the changes needed to people, process and technology, and if we haven’t experienced it we don’t know how to get started. Also, a lot of us want to stick with the old ways or haven’t needed to change yet. We used to ask ourselves if we should still code as an architect, now if we are not coding we are not relevant.

We’ve also changed the way we develop software and the way that IT works altogether. We shifted from waterfall to agile approaches, and now DevOps is the latest approach. With architecture, we no longer have the luxury of doing heavy design and evaluation. Rather, we get started and learn as we go. If we take the wrong path, we start over. I think that it’s a challenge across the board. Worst of all, many of us haven’t worked in modern IT environments so we’re not able to teach the younger folks how to be successful in the new paradigm. Unless people have been in a start-up environment, they probably haven’t worked in the modern IT workspace.

Why is there a disconnect between the skills IT people are learning and what the workforce requires?

Two groups of people need education or reeducation. Let me address the new workforce or kids going to college first. It takes about three years to get a curriculum change into the college system, so there is a natural lag. Some colleges work closely with start-up companies or big comm and those colleges can make the change fairly quickly. For the colleges working with some of the older echelon companies that have been playing it safe, they don’t have the awareness of what’s going on in the industry, so they’re slower to change their curriculum—those are the two key pieces.

In terms of the workforce at large and their reeducation, IT has been run the same way for a long time and business has run so close to the bone. There are a lot of companies that are not operating in SOA environments and are not ready for the digital transformation going on right now. People have not been able to apply modern IT techniques at work, and hands-on is the best way to learn. Since they haven’t changed, a lot of existing staff haven’t learned the new technologies and approaches.

In the early 2000s we shifted from a structured and composed N-tier environment to decomposed integration (SOA) environments. Some companies have adopted that and some haven’t. Now we’re moving from SOA on-premise to leveraging the Cloud. People and organizations who haven’t adopted SOA yet have to take two major leaps with their people, process and technology. A majority of companies are in that boat, where they have to shift to service orientation and then have to figure out how to design for the cloud. That is two gigantic leaps, and people can take one leap at a time—often unwillingly, but they can take it. When they have to jump two levels, it kills them and they’re paralyzed.

Is that part of the reason we’re now seeing companies doing bi-modal IT?

Bi-modal or multi-model are needed to successfully adopt modern concepts and complete digital transformation. In some conversations I’ve had, there’s a difference of opinion in what bi-modal means. One is, you have an IT department that runs at two different speeds. The first speed is for the systems of record, and the second is for systems of integration. Another way to put that is that you have a consistent core and you have agility at the edge. When you move from a large system and start decomposing it, you pick off integration pieces and develop using more agile approaches. For the big back-end chunks, you take more time planning and longer timeline efforts.

Another, much more controversial definition of bi-modal is that you gracefully retire the old guard by bringing in fresh talent while modernizing your IT environment. You have the old guard maintain the current environment and the new people work on the transition to the new environment. Once you have enough talent and technology operating in the new environment you deprecate the old. If you can’t get the experienced people to shift to the new ways, they are part of that deprecation process.

What can companies do to better train and maintain employees? That seems to be a continual problem at most companies.

Invest in people and spotlight the ones that are making the shift to modern IT. That’s my passion area. As I have worked with IT groups I’ve seen the retraining budget go from about $14,000 per year per person down to a few thousand dollars down to almost zero. At the same time, there have been massive layoffs occurring all over the place so there’s no loyalty or reason to learn. Experienced people have little or no loyalty to the companies they work for and new entrants only work for a company for about 18 months, then move. If you’re a millennial in any job for more than three years then other millennials start looking at you funny like you can’t get another job. In that type of environment there’s not a lot of emphasis on the company investing in the employee or in the employee having company loyalty.

The way that I’ve been approaching it, and it’s been very successful, is by setting up apprenticeship programs very much like journeymen do in construction, or in hospitals where doctors go through residency programs for on-the-job training. I break the skills acquisition into two pieces—one is the very specific skills for the organization that can’t be taught but need to be experienced through on-the-job training. For instance, I am talking to one organization that needs 250 people on staff that can do integration. They either can’t find the talent or the talent is out of price range or unwilling to move. So I gave them an approach where they take the concept of apprenticeship and bring in people that have the key entry level skills and the right work ethic, and then pair them with someone that’s experienced with integration in that environment. The person being mentored shadows the mentor to see how it’s done, and then the mentor shadows the person being mentored and provides coaching to accelerate the apprentice’s competence. You can do that for the skills associated with business capability.  

The other thing you do is help the apprentice with the foundational skills that are not specific to the job or to a business capability. The interpersonal skills, time management or whatever general skills they need to survive and maintain decent work/life balance. For these type of skills you provide external training and discussion rather than job shadowing. You make the mentor responsible for the care and growth of that individual, and you tie the mentor’s yearly review goals to their success at growing the new talent.

Have you been able to implement that at some specific companies and has it be successful?

I can’t name the companies but yes, I have been able to do it. I have also been operating my company this way to create and improve the process and build out the tools and training to support apprenticeship. I’ve been successful accelerating new workforce entrants into productive employees, and with moving existing staff into more advanced or different roles. I’ve been able to move people from traditional IT shops to agile and DevOps type environments, from dev leads to architects, and from traditional architects to modern IT architects.

The most recent and most exciting is to take kids that are not going to be able to finish college. They have the skill to get a degree but don’t have the money or interest in completing it. I’ve been taking them from doing minimum wage jobs to shifting them over and getting them into the workforce and making them productive. I’ve been able to move people into IT-related jobs as well as other business-related positions.

I apprentice them by using customer journey mapping. I teach them how it works and then have the apprentices transcribe the interviews I record and when I do a whiteboard workshop, I have them transcribe those notes into an Excel spreadsheet. I could do that electronically or with automation, but by having them do it, they learn the overall rhythm and language of business and they start to understand it. Then by talking with them about the customer journey from discovery through support or separation, they understand what the customer journey looks like. They also understand the underpinning interface with the company and how the business works and how they interact with the customer. That has been wildly successful.

With that basic knowledge they learn new skills very quickly, allowing me to focus more on helping them grow a strong work ethic and better time management. I drive through objectives rather than hours worked. I let them manage themselves so they gain a lot of confidence and they drive forward and push themselves. The other thing I do is, for the life skills they may not have, I teach those. For instance, a lot of them don’t know how to budget. I tell them not to budget using money—budget using hours. Think about a cup of Starbucks coffee as 70 minutes of your time in order to pay for it, think of your apartment rent as two weeks work, think of your car as a week’s pay. I get them thinking that way and money becomes tangible, and they get better at budgeting. 

With these entry level people who are transitioning from minimum wage jobs, are they also being hired by a company or are you teaching them the skills and then they go out and get a job?

It works both ways. I’ve helped companies get apprenticeship programs going and also apprenticed people, then they go get jobs or take jobs with the companies I consult with. Before we start, the customer and I agree I’ll be using some unskilled people to help them grow, and in return the company has the opportunity to hire the person when they are ready. I pay my apprentices a living wage as I grow them and expose them to my customers. I’m very transparent about how much they cost me and how much they have to earn to break even, and I tell them that in every business, that’s what they’re looking at. I teach them that, and then as they are introduced to my customers, my customers are welcome to hire them. Gigantic win for my employees and my customers.

This seems like it could be another avenue to help solve some of the diversity problems that the tech community is facing right now. Have you also been looking at apprenticeships in that manner?

Absolutely I have. This is another thing that is near and dear to my heart. The reason that I’m in IT is because my sister went into IT in the mid-1970s. I watched her live through that horrible time for women in IT. I’ve tried to do my part to help create a more diversified workforce in IT. Now my daughter is in IT and her journey was 10 times better than my sister’s. Not perfect, but better. Since then I have worked to identify what is broken and fix it.

I’ve also worked with a lot of kids who are disadvantaged, and I’ve been able to help them move up and into IT. Once they see a way out of their current environment and have hope, and that all it takes is some effort on their part, they are in. They’ve got somebody that believes in them and willing to invest time in them, and they’re all over it, working harder and better than most of the privileged kids that I’ve worked with, or the ones that feel like they’re entitled.

What can employers do to make their employees more loyal these days?

That’s a tough one because when you look at it, millennials are different. The big five leadership indicators manifest different and they are not driven by the same incentives. There’s a big shift with millennials and there will be for future generations but there are a lot of things you can do culturally to address that. A lot have to do with the policies that you have. For instance, companies that allow you to bring a dog in or work remotely or wear jeans and a t-shirt, or bow ties, those little things help.

But what I’ve found is the number one thing that has helped is to have millennials form relationships with the people that have a lot of experience and giving them time to grow relationships and skills. Every millennial I’ve reached out to and worked with has been hungry for the relationship and growth. They don’t want platitudes, they want people who really want to interact with them and have a genuine interest in helping them. Once you show that, big win.  

The other thing you have to do is let them experiment and not put them in a box. You have to put a group of them together and let them figure out their own boundaries and just make it an objective base. I think doing that helps an awful lot. So building those relationships, which you can do through an apprenticeship program and then providing some freedom so they can operate in a different way, those are two of the things you can do. The heavy handed review cycles and trying to either intimidate or incent millennials with money is not going to work. A lot of them have a high-minded idea of the way they world should work, and they’re going to be more loyal if the company they work for represents that or if the manager they work for represents that.

What are some of those ideals that they’re looking for?

Most of them are worried about the world and want it to be a better place. They see the disparity between the highest paid and lowest paid, and they want fairness and to work as a group, and for the group being successful. A lot of their idealism is centered on those concepts, and allowing them volunteer time to work with charities and have outreach programs.

What role can certification programs such as The Open Group’s play in helping to close the skills gap?

It can play a gigantic role by providing frameworks and methodologies that reflect today’s IT environment. I think we also have to shift the way that we do certification and training and a lot of that is starting to happen. We’re starting to move the bar and have a lot more practical and hands-on certifications and training.

I think we need to shift from taking an online course and then going to a place and taking a test to working with and interacting with another person. An example of that is the top certifications for architects that The Open Group has, those are based on defending your experience and going through an interview process with peer members of that group, and them saying yes, this person is what they say. Using a test you can’t do that.

This type of approach makes it a lot more personal. What you will see over time is that people say ‘I had so and so on my board’ or ‘I had this person mentor me,’ and they start talking about their lineage based on the people they’ve worked with in the industry. If we shift more toward that type of validation as opposed to using multiple choice tests, we’ll be a lot better off.

I also think you’ll see hybrid industry/customer certifications just like you see industry/customer training. Someone will join a company and get trained and certified, but that certification will be able to follow the person rather than go away when they leave the company. What you’ll see is when an employee decides to leave, they can take part of the external facing portion of a credential with them, and only lose the internal portion. For the piece they lose, they will rely on their resume.

The other big area where you’ll see a shift in certification is, rather than being tied to technology and platforms, certification will be tied to business capabilities and business outcomes. You’ll certify that someone can build a solution toward a specific business outcome or capability that’s trying to be enabled.

@theopengroup #ogAUS

By The Open GroupAndy started his career in IT as a technical expert in consulting roles and well as staff roles. In the mid-1990s, he shifted from delivering IT capability to delivering training, speaking at conferences and writing books and training covering the IT space. The end of the 1990s Andy joined Microsoft as a subject matter expert working on their public training and certification programs.

He grew to own curriculum development, then certification development, and then creating and delivering new training and certification programs. Additionally, Andy spent time as a role owner, defining job roles, levels, career ladders and compensation models to field-based architects and consultants. Over the last several years, Andy employs his talents as a consultant helping with business and IT strategy, and has a passion for workforce development.

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Filed under Certifications, devops, EA, Enterprise Architecture, enterprise architecture, Internet of Things, IT, operating system, Professional Development, skills gap, Standards, The Open Group, The Open Group Austin 2016, Uncategorized

Keys to Enterprise Architecture Success

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

Avoiding the perils on the way to successful Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture (EA) is more relevant today than ever before – considering the accelerating pace of technology adoption, many new and disruptive market forces, hyper-competitive environments, and rapidly changing business models.

Together, these present a burning requirement for many organisations to ‘digitise the enterprise’.

EA supports the organisation develop an holistic representation of the business, its information and technology. This provides a business tool for managing complexity and change.

The myriad benefits from successful EA practices include:

  • Competitive advantage – with so few organisations “getting it right”, having a business appropriate and sustainable EA function allows the organisation to respond to change with greater speed, and derive huge competitive advantage.
  • Market reputation – EA is essential for the organisation to promote a reputation of being well-governed (for example, EA allows the organisation to comply with King III and other governance/compliance requirements). EA acts as the crucial linchpin between corporate governance and IT governance.
  • Business transformation – EA supports major business transformations, by clearly understanding the current state, and clearly articulating the desired end-state. In this way, EA provides a clear roadmap for transformation
  • Portfolio rationalization – a structured approach to EA helps with reducing the size and complexity of the organisation’s technology estate, and removing any duplications within the application and technology portfolio.
  • Strategic support function – professional EA consulting services support the efforts of many critical areas within the enterprise – such as strategic planning, governance, risk and compliance, and solution architecture

In essence, EA facilitates the fusion between business and technology based on the fact that if the organisation cannot change its systems, it cannot change its business. New entrants are often more ‘digitally agile’: they have the ability – for example – to embrace new cloud platforms without being tied to millstone of legacy systems and processes.

The strategic theme that underpins the EA practice, and helps guard against failure, is that of ‘running the EA practice like a business, with a clearly-defined solution offering’.

Keeping this philosophy top-of-mind – across the entire ambit of people, tools, process, content, and products/services – is fundamental to ensuring that one’s EA practice is business-appropriate, sustainable, and ultimately successful. By running EA as if it is a business in its own right, in support of the enterprise’s strategic goals, the EA capability is positioned to evolve in scope and importance, and add increasing value to the enterprise over time.

However, so many EA programmes fail to achieve meaningful results. More often than not, they either end up on the scrapheap of failed IT programmes and wasted investments, or limp along with limited and isolated impact within the broader organisation.

So, why do EA programmes so often fail?

The role of the Chief Architect in ensuring EA success

Analysts confirm that the single biggest reason for failed EA programmes is lack of leadership skills within the core elements of the guiding coalition and the EA team. At the nucleus, the Chief Architect is required to lead by example and inspire others, while remaining acutely tuned into business’ needs.

Acting as the keystone in the EA structures that are being built, the Chief Architect must be flexible enough to continually adapt the business case for EA, but remain unwavering in the eventual vision – that of modernising and optimising the way the organisation functions.

The resilience of the EA function ultimately depends on the strengths of the Chief Architect.

As EA inevitably takes some time to generate sustainable returns, the Chief Architect must maintain the enthusiasm of executive stakeholders and business partners, while dealing with the ever-present threat that some individuals may revert back to old habits, divert funds to other projects, or focus on short-term wins.

This is a delicate balance, and the skills that qualify someone as a great architect don’t necessarily make them a strong leader. The most essential attributes include business acumen, the ability to translate technology into simple business outcomes, the ability to listen, communicate, present to groups, articulate the vision of the EA function, and inject enthusiasm for the EA practice.

Of course, it goes without saying that the Chief Architect must also possess the right technical skills which allow her to guide and govern the EA portfolio. In staffing the EA function, organisations should consider candidates in the context of defined career ladders and skills assessments. It is only with the right skills background that the Chief Architect will be in a position the strategic importance of the EA function within the first year of their tenure, or the practice is at risk of dissipating.

Leadership also includes aligning the differing EA visions held by the various business units and stakeholders. Everyone has a slightly different spin on what EA should achieve, and how the organisation will achieve it. While keeping stakeholders involved in the project, the Chief Architect must influence, guide, and delicately meld these visions into a single cohesive EA strategy.

Finally, the EA practice is at risk if the Chief Architect and her team are not skilled in communicating with key stakeholders across both business and technology domains and at multiple levels within the organisation. Results need to be clearly measured and demonstrated to the business. The EA vision must be constantly reinforced throughout the programme as the practice develops in maturity.

Setting up the EA team for success; the core EA team

As important as her role may be, the Chief Architect cannot ‘go it alone’. Ensuring that the right core Enterprise Architecture (EA) team is in place is the next important step in avoiding potential EA failure. Led by a strong guiding coalition and steering committee, the team needs to consider how to manage the work, how to control delivery against the plan, how any blind spots will be identified, and how they will engage with the rest of the organisation.

None of this can happen just by accident. The starting point is to conduct a critical analysis of the skills requirements, and match this with the right people in the right roles. Any silos, or ‘stovepipes’ should be dismantled, in favour of greater collaboration and knowledge-sharing – giving the Chief Architect better visibility of everything happening within the team.

So, with a strong EA team at the nucleus, and skilled individuals in the various areas of the organisation, the Chief Architect is able to allocate resources efficiently and generate the best returns in the least possible time. Excellence in the execution of the EA tasks, from beginning to end, is only ever possible with quality staff involved.

There is an ever-present risk that the core team gets pulled into detailed operational work like solution delivery – while the strategic architectural role gets deprioritised. Another common risk is that the EA practice becomes something of a ‘dumping ground’ for disparate IT team members. For this reason, when a new Chief Architect is appointed, one of her first tasks is to assess the team capabilities, restructure, replace and recruit where necessary.

The goal is to ensure the right portfolio of skills is spread across the entire EA discipline – people with the right qualifications, tool proficiencies and psychometric profiles are working together in the optimal structure.

Organisational positioning

To have legitimacy among executive stakeholders, and to avoid knee-jerk, short-term approaches that merely address symptoms (rather than dealing with root causes), the appropriate placement of the EA function is fundamental to its success.

For example, if EA is housed within the area of the Chief Technology Officer then we can expect the focus to be all about technical architectures and solutions support. If it’s positioned under the Chief Information Officer, the focus is often more on supporting solution architectures.

Reporting into business strategy and governance structures reduces technology-centric thinking. Whichever is the case, we find that organisational structure shapes the behaviour and the strategies of the teams.

Appropriate structure and alignment within the organisation is critical for ‘expectation management’. We’ve seen many cases of senior stakeholders (within whose portfolio the EA function resides) making promises to executives, shareholders, or markets – creating unrealistic expectations of what EA is capable of doing at a particular level of maturity.

The organisational design must be fit-for-purpose, depending on the firm’s specific requirements and the state of maturity. The EA function will be hindered if its scope is not clearly defined, and does not span all of the horizontal EA domains (business architecture, information architecture, data architecture, application architecture and technology architecture) and vertical domains (integration, security and solution architecture).

If these areas are fragmented, it becomes tougher to answer questions around how they will integrate, who will be responsible for what, and how the organisation will build an integrated view of the target architecture. In highly federated, decentralised or geographically-dispersed organisations, the positioning becomes even more complex –  often being required to morph according to changing business priorities. This requires a clear understanding of what EA capabilities are performed globally, regionally and locally.

The EA team needs to simultaneously build the EA capability (and start delivering results), while selling this positive story to executives – in order to achieve their further buy-in. This may place greater pressure on the teams in the short-term, as milestones and commitments are thrust into the spotlight and must be met. We recall the principle of ‘publish or perish’, which is crucial to maintaining the involvement and support of executive stakeholders.

Executive sponsorship

The business executive must empower the EA function with a defined and widely communicated mandate. Failure to do so often results in ‘turf wars’ between the EA practice and related areas of the organisation, such as the Programme Management Office or Service Management.

To build on early momentum, EA education and communication should filter down from above as one of the organisation’s highest priorities. This helps to foster business stakeholder engagement and ensure that EA content is used in the right ways “on the ground”.

Executives are also able to remove many of the obstacles that could otherwise bring on the demise of EA in the organisation. Executive sponsors may be called on to influence budgets and vendor selection, or make the necessary structural changes to the teams, or ensure that architecture governance remains firmly on the agenda.

So, in summary, it is critical to have the right people, under the right leadership (the Chief Architect and her guiding coalition), working in the right structure within the organisation. Without all three of these things in place, the EA practice is at great risk of failure.

Ivory Tower syndrome

A common reason for the collapse of EA initiatives, is architects who become overly-enamoured with the conceptual aspects of their work. They return from their retreats away from the business, with elaborate frameworks, and little practical guidance on how to implement them.

These concepts will be presented to key influencers within the organisation, most of whom will not understand the content, so their complex reference architectures will be ignored. In this way, the EA team is perceived as living in an Ivory Tower – disconnected from the business and alienating stakeholders – often leading to the withdrawal of support and sponsorship from key people.

These complex frameworks are built in isolation from the business stakeholders on the ground.

Investing too much time in detailed documentation of the “as-is states”, and creating vast arrays of diagrams, gives the impression that progress is being made, when in reality, this flurry of visible ‘activity’ is being mistaken for progress.

This academic approach to EA leads to inertia in decision-making, a state of ‘deferred commitment’ where the fear of failure leads to an inability to act. The EA practice lives by the principle of “publish or perish” (describing how critical it is to deliver tangible outputs).

This leads to distorted perspectives, where the architect’s views of the business architecture and other architecture domains are not necessarily shared by their key stakeholders.

Architects who dogmatically force their models on stakeholders – without fully appreciating the changing business’ requirements or tailoring their services to meet the business’ demands – are bound to fail.

By focusing on tangible outputs, and running the EA practice like a business, architects can effectively maintain a stakeholder-centric approach to delivering business value.

Architects need to ‘get their hands dirty’ – such as getting involved in the actual modelling, investing time in mentoring people in architecture skills, closely following the business’ needs, and evolving the EA artefacts.

This should be combined with strong marketing and communications efforts – where architects constantly communicate and evangelise the value of the EA practice to business stakeholders.

If not, the team risks the ‘Ivory Tower syndrome’ setting in, and will lose the backing of the C-suite. Even if budgets are still provided for, the bigger work surrounding EA – like maturing the EA capability, business transformation and change management – will not be possible without active executive support.

@theopengroup

By Stuart Macgregor, CEO, Real IRM

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®. 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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Filed under Business Transformation, EA, Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Transformation, Standards, The Open Group

Strategic Planning – Ideas to Delivery

By Martin Owen, CEO, Corso

Most organizations operate at a fast pace of change. Businesses are constantly evaluating market demands and enacting change to drive growth and develop a competitive edge.

These market demands come from a broad number of sources, and include economic changes, market trends, regulations, technology improvements and resource management. Knowing where the demands originated, whether they are important and if they are worth acting on can be difficult.

We look at how innovation, Enterprise Architecture and successful project delivery needs to be intertwined and traceable.

In the past, managing ideation to the delivery of innovation has not been done, or has been attempted in organizational silos, leading to disconnections. This in turn results in change not being implemented properly or a focus on the wrong type of change.

How Does an Organization Successfully Embrace Change?

Many companies start with campaigns and ideation. They run challenges and solicit ideas from within and outside of their walls. Ideas are then prioritized and evaluated. Sometimes prototypes are built and tested, but what happens next?

Many organizations turn to the blueprints or roadmaps generated by their enterprise architectures, IT architectures and or business process architectures for answers. They evaluate how a new idea and its supporting technology, such as SOA or enterprise-resource planning (ERP), fits into the broader architecture. They manage their technology portfolio by looking at their IT infrastructure needs.

Organizations often form program management boards to evaluate ideas, initiatives and their costs. In reality, these evaluations are based on lightweight business cases without the broader context. organizations don’t have a comprehensive understanding of what systems, processes and resources they have, what they are being used for, and how much they cost and the effects of regulations. Projects are delivered and viewed on a project-by-project basis without regard to the bigger picture. Enterprise, technology and process-related decisions are made within the flux of change and without access to the real knowledge contained within the organisation or in the market place. IT is often in the hot seat of this type of decision-making.

Challenges of IT Planning

IT planning takes place in reaction to and anticipation of these market demands and initiatives. There may be a need for a new CRM or accounting system, or new application for manufacturing or product development. While IT planning should be part of a broader enterprise architecture or market analysis, IT involvement in technology investments are often done close to the end of the strategic planning process and without proper access to enterprise or market data.

The following questions illustrate the competing demands found within the typical IT environment:

How can we manage the prioritization of business, architectural-and project-driven initiatives?

Stakeholders place a large number of both tactical and strategic requirements on IT. IT is required to offer different technology investment options, but is often constrained by a competition for resources.

How do we balance enterprise architecture’s role with IT portfolio management?

An enterprise architect provides a high-level view of the risks and benefits of a project and the alignment to future goals. It can illustrate the project complexities and the impact of change. Future state architectures and transition plans can be used to define investment portfolio content. At the same time, portfolio management provides a detailed perspective of development and implementation. Balancing these often-competing viewpoints can be tricky.

How well are application lifecycles being managed?

Application management requires a product/service/asset view over time. Well-managed application lifecycles demand a process of continuous releases, especially when time to market is key. The higher level view required by portfolio management provides a broader perspective of how all assets work together. Balancing application lifecycle demands against a broader portfolio framework can present an inherent conflict about priorities and a struggle for resources.

How do we manage the numerous and often conflicting governance requirements across the delivery process?

As many organizations move to small-team agile development, coordinating the various application development projects becomes more difficult. Managing the development process using waterfall methods can shorten schedules but can also increase the chance of errors and a disconnect with broader portfolio and enterprise goals.

How do we address different lifecycles and tribes in the organization?

Lifecycles such as innovation management, enterprise architecture, business process management and solution delivery are all necessary but are not harmonised across the enterprise. The connection among these lifecycles is important to the effective delivery of initiatives and understanding the impact of change.

The enterprise view, down through innovation management, portfolio management, application lifecycle management and agile development represent competing IT viewpoints that can come together using an ideas to delivery framework.

Agile Development and DevOps

A key component of the drive from ideas to delivery is how strategic planning and the delivery of software are related or more directly the relevance of Agile Enterprise Architecture to DevOps.

DevOps is a term that has been around since the end of the last decade, originating from the Agile development movement and is a fusion of “development” and “operations”. In more practical terms it integrates developers and operations teams in order to improve collaboration and productivity by automating infrastructure, workflows and continuously measuring application performance.

The drivers behind the approach are the competing needs to incorporate new products into production whilst maintaining 99.9% uptime to customers in an agile manner.

To understand further the increase in complexity we need to look at how new features and functions need to be applied to our delivery of software. The world of mobile apps, middleware and cloud deployment has reduced release cycles to weeks not months with an emphasis on delivering incremental change. Previously a business release would be every few months with a series of modules and hopefully still relevant to the business goals.

The shorter continuous delivery lifecycle will help organizations:

  • Achieve shorter releases by incremental delivery and delivering faster innovation.
  • Be more responsive to business needs by improved collaboration, better quality and more frequent releases.
  • Manage the number of applications impacted by business release by allowing local variants for a global business and continuous delivery within releases.

The Devops approach achieves this by providing an environment that:

  • Will minimize software delivery batch sizes to increase flexibility and enable continuous feedback as every team delivers features to production as they are completed.
  • Has the notion of projects replaced by release trains which minimizes batch waiting time to reduce lead times and waste.
  • Has a shift from central planning to decentralized execution with a pull philosophy thus minimizing batch transaction cost to improve efficiency.
  • Makes DevOps economically feasible through test virtualization, build automation, and automated release management as we prioritize and sequence batches to maximize business value and select the right batches, sequence them in the right order, guide the implementation, track execution and make planning adjustments to maximize business value.

By Martin Owen, CEO, CorsoFigure 1: DevOps lifecycle

Thus far we have only looked at the delivery aspects, so how does this approach integrate with an enterprise architecture view?

To understand this we need to look more closely at the strategic Planning Lifecycle. Figure 2 shows how the strategic planning lifecycle supports an ‘ideas to delivery’ framework.

By Martin Owen, CEO, Corso

Figure 2: The strategic planning lifecycle

You can see here, the high level relationship between the strategy and goals of an organization and the projects that deliver the change to meet these goals. The enterprise architecture provides the model to govern the delivery of projects in line with these goals.

However we must ensure that any model that is built must be just enough EA to provide the right level of analysis and this has been discussed in previous sections of this book regarding the use of Kanban to drive change. The Agile EA model is then one that can both provide enough analysis to plan which projects should be undertaken and then to ensure full architectural governance over the delivery. The last part of this is achieved by connecting to the tools used in the Agile space.

By Martin Owen, CEO, Corso

Figure 3: Detailed view of the strategic planning lifecycle

There are a number of tools that can be used within DevOps. One example is the IBM toolset, which uses open standards to link to other products within the overall lifecycle. This approach integrates the Agile enterprise architecture process with the Agile Development process and connects project delivery with effective governance of the project lifecycle and ensures that even if the software delivery process is agile the link to goals and associated business needs are met.

To achieve this goal a number of internal processes must interoperate and this is a significant challenge, but one that can be met by building an internal center of excellence and finding a solution by starting small and building a working environment.

The Strategic Planning Lifecycle Summary

The organization begins by revisiting its corporate vision and strategy. What things will differentiate the organization from its competitors in five years? What value propositions will it offer customers to create that differentiation? The organization can create a series of campaigns or challenges to solicit new ideas and requirements for its vision and strategy.

The ideas and requirements are rationalized into a value proposition that can be examined in more detail.

The company can look at what resources it needs to have on both the business side and the IT side to deliver the capabilities needed to realize the value propositions. For example, a superior customer experience might demand better internet interactions and new applications, processes, and infrastructure on which to run. Once the needs are understood, they are compared to what the organization already has. The transition planning determines how the gaps will be addressed.

An enterprise architecture is a living thing with a lifecycle of its own. Figure 3 shows the ongoing EA processes. With the strategy and transition plan in place, EA execution begins. The transition plan provides input to project prioritization and planning since those projects aligned with the transition plan are typically prioritized over those that do not align. This determines which projects are funded and entered into, or continue to the Devops stage. As the solutions are developed, enterprise architecture assets such as models, building blocks, rules, patterns, constraints and guidelines are used and followed. Where the standard assets aren’t suitable for a project, exceptions are requested from the governance board. These exceptions are tracked carefully. Where assets are frequently the subject of exception requests, they must be examined to see if they really are suitable for the organization.

If we’re not doing things the way we said we wanted them done, then we must ask if our target architectures are still correct. This helps keep the EA current and useful.

Periodic updates to the organization’s vision and strategy require a reassessment of the to-be state of the enterprise architecture. This typically results in another look at how the organization will differentiate itself in five years, what value propositions it will offer, the capabilities and resources needed, and so on. Then the transition plan is examined to see if it is still moving us in the right direction. If not, it is updated.

Figure 3, separates the organization’s strategy and vision, the enterprise architecture lifecycle components and the solution development & delivery. Some argue that the strategy and vision are part of the EA while others argue against this. Both views are valid since they simply depend on how you look at the process. If the CEO’s office is responsible for the vision and strategy and the reporting chain as responsible for its execution, then the separation of it from the EA makes sense. In practice, the top part of the reporting chain participates in the vision and strategy exercise and is encouraged to “own” it, at least from an execution perspective. In that case, it might be fair to consider it part of the EA. Or you can say it drives the EA. The categorization isn’t as important as understanding how the vision and strategy interacts with the EA, or the rest of the EA, however you see it.

Note that the overall goal here is to have traceability from our ideas and initiatives, all the way through to strategic delivery. This comes with clear feedback from delivery assets to the ideas and requirements that they were initiated from.

By Martin Owen, CEO, CorsoMartin Owen, CEO, Corso, has held executive and senior management and technical positions in IBM, Telelogic and Popkin. He has been instrumental in driving forward the product management of enterprise architecture, portfolio management and asset management tooling.

Martin is also active with industry standards bodies and was the driver behind the first business process-modelling notation (BPMN) standard.

Martin has led the ArchiMate® and UML mapping initiatives at The Open Group and is part of the capability based planning standards team.

Martin is responsible for strategy, products and direction at Corso.

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The Open Group Baltimore 2015 Highlights

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

The Open Group Baltimore 2015, Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™, July 20-23, was held at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor. Over 300 attendees from 16 countries, including China, Japan, Netherlands and Brazil, attended this agenda-packed event.

The event kicked off on July 20th with a warm Open Group welcome by Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group. The first plenary speaker was Bruce McConnell, Senior VP, East West Institute, whose presentation “Global Cooperation in Cyberspace”, gave a behind-the-scenes look at global cybersecurity issues. Bruce focused on US – China cyber cooperation, major threats and what the US is doing about them.

Allen then welcomed Christopher Davis, Professor of Information Systems, University of South Florida, to The Open Group Governing Board as an Elected Customer Member Representative. Chris also serves as Chair of The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum.

The plenary continued with a joint presentation “Can Cyber Insurance Be Linked to Assurance” by Larry Clinton, President & CEO, Internet Security Alliance and Dan Reddy, Adjunct Faculty, Quinsigamond Community College MA. The speakers emphasized that cybersecurity is not a simply an IT issue. They stated there are currently 15 billion mobile devices and there will be 50 billion within 5 years. Organizations and governments need to prepare for new vulnerabilities and the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The plenary culminated with a panel “US Government Initiatives for Securing the Global Supply Chain”. Panelists were Donald Davidson, Chief, Lifecycle Risk Management, DoD CIO for Cybersecurity, Angela Smith, Senior Technical Advisor, General Services Administration (GSA) and Matthew Scholl, Deputy Division Chief, NIST. The panel was moderated by Dave Lounsbury, CTO and VP, Services, The Open Group. They discussed the importance and benefits of ensuring product integrity of hardware, software and services being incorporated into government enterprise capabilities and critical infrastructure. Government and industry must look at supply chain, processes, best practices, standards and people.

All sessions concluded with Q&A moderated by Allen Brown and Jim Hietala, VP, Business Development and Security, The Open Group.

Afternoon tracks (11 presentations) consisted of various topics including Information & Data Architecture and EA & Business Transformation. The Risk, Dependability and Trusted Technology theme also continued. Jack Daniel, Strategist, Tenable Network Security shared “The Evolution of Vulnerability Management”. Michele Goetz, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, presented “Harness the Composable Data Layer to Survive the Digital Tsunami”. This session was aimed at helping data professionals understand how Composable Data Layers set digital and the Internet of Things up for success.

The evening featured a Partner Pavilion and Networking Reception. The Open Group Forums and Partners hosted short presentations and demonstrations while guests also enjoyed the reception. Areas focused on were Enterprise Architecture, Healthcare, Security, Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™), IT4IT™ and Open Platform™.

Exhibitors in attendance were Esteral Technologies, Wind River, RTI and SimVentions.

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsPartner Pavilion – The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™

On July 21, Allen Brown began the plenary with the great news that Huawei has become a Platinum Member of The Open Group. Huawei joins our other Platinum Members Capgemini, HP, IBM, Philips and Oracle.

By Loren K Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsAllen Brown, Trevor Cheung, Chris Forde

Trevor Cheung, VP Strategy & Architecture Practice, Huawei Global Services, will be joining The Open Group Governing Board. Trevor posed the question, “what can we do to combine The Open Group and IT aspects to make a customer experience transformation?” His presentation entitled “The Value of Industry Standardization in Promoting ICT Innovation”, addressed the “ROADS Experience”. ROADS is an acronym for Real Time, On-Demand, All Online, DIY, Social, which need to be defined across all industries. Trevor also discussed bridging the gap; the importance of combining Customer Experience (customer needs, strategy, business needs) and Enterprise Architecture (business outcome, strategies, systems, processes innovation). EA plays a key role in the digital transformation.

Allen then presented The Open Group Forum updates. He shared roadmaps which include schedules of snapshots, reviews, standards, and publications/white papers.

Allen also provided a sneak peek of results from our recent survey on TOGAF®, an Open Group standard. TOGAF® 9 is currently available in 15 different languages.

Next speaker was Jason Uppal, Chief Architecture and CEO, iCareQuality, on “Enterprise Architecture Practice Beyond Models”. Jason emphasized the goal is “Zero Patient Harm” and stressed the importance of Open CA Certification. He also stated that there are many roles of Enterprise Architects and they are always changing.

Joanne MacGregor, IT Trainer and Psychologist, Real IRM Solutions, gave a very interesting presentation entitled “You can Lead a Horse to Water… Managing the Human Aspects of Change in EA Implementations”. Joanne discussed managing, implementing, maintaining change and shared an in-depth analysis of the psychology of change.

“Outcome Driven Government and the Movement Towards Agility in Architecture” was presented by David Chesebrough, President, Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI). “IT Transformation reshapes business models, lean startups, web business challenges and even traditional organizations”, stated David.

Questions from attendees were addressed after each session.

In parallel with the plenary was the Healthcare Interoperability Day. Speakers from a wide range of Healthcare industry organizations, such as ONC, AMIA and Healthway shared their views and vision on how IT can improve the quality and efficiency of the Healthcare enterprise.

Before the plenary ended, Allen made another announcement. Allen is stepping down in April 2016 as President and CEO after more than 20 years with The Open Group, including the last 17 as CEO. After conducting a process to choose his successor, The Open Group Governing Board has selected Steve Nunn as his replacement who will assume the role with effect from November of this year. Steve is the current COO of The Open Group and CEO of the Association of Enterprise Architects. Please see press release here.By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications

Steve Nunn, Allen Brown

Afternoon track topics were comprised of EA Practice & Professional Development and Open Platform 3.0™.

After a very informative and productive day of sessions, workshops and presentations, event guests were treated to a dinner aboard the USS Constellation just a few minutes walk from the hotel. The USS Constellation constructed in 1854, is a sloop-of-war, the second US Navy ship to carry the name and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsUSS Constellation

On Wednesday, July 22, tracks continued: TOGAF® 9 Case Studies and Standard, EA & Capability Training, Knowledge Architecture and IT4IT™ – Managing the Business of IT.

Thursday consisted of members-only meetings which are closed sessions.

A special “thank you” goes to our sponsors and exhibitors: Avolution, SNA Technologies, BiZZdesign, Van Haren Publishing, AFEI and AEA.

Check out all the Twitter conversation about the event – @theopengroup #ogBWI

Event proceedings for all members and event attendees can be found here.

Hope to see you at The Open Group Edinburgh 2015 October 19-22! Please register here.

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 Onion From The Inside Out

By Stuart Boardman, Senior Business Consultant, Business & IT Advisory, KPN Consulting and Ed Harrington, Senior Consulting Associate, Conexiam

The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ (OP3.0) services often involve a complex network of interdependent parties[1]. Each party has its own concept of the value it expects from the service. One consequence of this is that each party depends on the value other parties place on the service. If it’s not core business for one of them, its availability and reliability could be in doubt. So the others need to be aware of this and have some idea of how much that matters to them.

In a previous post, we used the analogy of an onion to model various degrees of relationship between parties. At a high level the onion looks like this:

By Stuart Boardman, KPN“Onion”

Every player has their own version of this onion. Every player’s own perspective is from the middle of it. The complete set of players will be distributed across different layers of the onion depending on whose onion we are looking at.

In a short series of blogs, we’re going to use a concrete use-case to explore what various players’ onions look like. To understand that onion involves working from the middle out. We all know that you can’t peel an onion starting in the middle, so let’s not get hung up on the metaphor. It’s only useful in as far as it fits with our real business objective. In this case the objective is to have the best possible chance of understanding and then realizing the potential value of a service.

Defining and Realizing Value

Earlier this year, The Open Group published a set of Open Platform 3.0 use cases. One of these use cases (#15) considers the energy market ecosystem involved in smart charging of electric vehicles. The players in this use case include:

  • The Vehicle User
  • Supplier/Charging Operator(s)
  • Distribution Service Operator (DSO).
  • Electricity Bulk Generators
  • Transmission (National Grid) Operator
  • Local Government

By Stuart Boardman, KPN

The use case describes a scenario involving these players:

A local controller (a device – known in OP3.0 as part of the Internet of Things) controls one or more charging stations. The Charging Operator informs the vehicle (and possibly the Vehicle User) via the local controller how much capacity is available to it. If the battery is nearly full the vehicle can inform the local controller that it needs less capacity and this capacity can then be made available to other vehicles at other charging stations.

The Charging Operator determines the capacity to be made available on the basis of information provided by the DSO (maximum allowable capacity at that time), possibly combined with commercial information (e.g., current spot prices, predicted trends, flexibility agreements with vehicle-owners/customers where applicable). The DSO has predicted available capacity on the basis of currently predicted weather conditions and long-term usage patterns in the relevant area. The DSO is able to adapt to unexpected changes in real-time and restrict or increase the locally available capacity.

Value For The Various Parties

The Vehicle User

For the sake of making it interesting let’s say that the vehicle user is a taxi driver. For her, the value is primarily in being able to charge the vehicle at a convenient time, place, speed and cost. But the perception of what constitutes value in those categories may vary depending on whether she uses a public charging station or charges at home. In either case the service she uses is focused on the Supplier/Charging operator, because that is who she pays for the service. The bill includes generic DSO costs but the customer has no direct relationship with a DSO and is only really aware of them when maintenance is carried out. Factors like convenient time and place may bring Local Government into the picture, because they are often the party who make parking spaces for electric vehicles available.

By Stuart Boardman, KPN“The Taxi Driver’s Onion”

Local Government

Local government is then also responsible for policing the proper use of these spaces. The importance assigned by local government to making these facilities available is a question of policy balanced by cost/gain (licenses and parking fees). Policy is influenced by the economy, by the convictions of the councilors, by lobbyists (especially those connected with the DSO, Bulk Generators and Transmission Operators), by innovation and natural resources and by the attitude of the public towards electric vehicles, which in turn may be influenced by national government policy. In some countries (e.g. The Netherlands) there are tax incentives for the acquisition of electric cars. If this policy changes in a country, the number of electric vehicles could increase or decrease dramatically. Local government has a dependency on and formal relationship with the Supplier that manages the Charging Stations. The relationship with the DSO is indirect unless they have been partners in an initiative to promote electric vehicles.

 By Stuart Boardman, KPN “Local Government’s Onion”

The Distribution Service OperatorBy Stuart Boardman, KPN

Value for the DSO involves balancing its regulatory obligation to provide continuity of energy supply with the cost of investment to achieve that and with the public perception of the value of that service. The DSO also gains value in terms of reputation from investing in innovation and energy saving. That value is expressed in its own long-term future as an enterprise. The DSO, being very much the hub in this use case, is dependent on the Supplier and the Vehicle User (with the vehicle’s battery as proxy) to provide the information needed to ensure continuity – and of course on the Transmission Operator the Bulk Generators to provide power. It does not, however, have any direct relationship with any Bulk Generator or even necessarily know who they are or where they are located.

 

By Stuart Boardman, KPN“The Distribution Service Operator’s Onion”

The Bulk Generator

The Bulk Generator has no direct involvement in this use case but has an indirect dependency on anything affecting the level of usage of electricity, as this affects the market price and long-term future of its product. So there is generic value (or anti-value) in the use case if it is widely implemented.

To be continued…

Those were the basics of the approach. There’s a lot more to be done before you can say you have a grip on value realization in such a scenario.

In the next blog, we’ll dive deeper into the use case, identify other relevant stakeholders and look at other dependencies that may influence value across the chain.

[1] Open Platform 3.0 refers to this as a “wider business ecosystem”. In fact such ecosystems exist for all kinds of services. We just happen to be focusing on this kind of service.

By Stuart Boardman, KPNStuart Boardman is a Senior Business Consultant with KPN Consulting where he leads the Enterprise Architecture practice and consults to clients on Cloud Computing, Enterprise Mobility and The Internet of Everything. He is Co-Chair of The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Forum and was Co-Chair of the Cloud Computing Work Group’s Security for the Cloud and SOA project and a founding member of both The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and The Open Group SOA Work Group. Stuart is the author of publications by KPN, the Information Security Platform (PvIB) in The Netherlands and of his previous employer, CGI as well as several Open Group white papers, guides and standards. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of Open Platform 3.0 and Identity.

harrington_ed_0Ed Harrington is a Senior Consulting Associate with Conexiam, a Calgary, Canada headquartered consultancy. He also heads his own consultancy, EPH Associates. Prior positions include Principle Consultant with Architecting the Enterprise where he provided TOGAF and other Enterprise Architecture (EA) discipline training and consultancy; EVP and COO for Model Driven Solutions, an EA, SOA and Model Driven Architecture Consulting and Software Development company; various positions for two UK based companies, Nexor and ICL and 18 years at General Electric in various marketing and financial management positions. Ed has been an active member of The Open Group since 2000 when the EMA became part of The Open Group and is past chair of various Open Group Forums (including past Vice Chair of the Architecture Forum). Ed is TOGAF® 9 certified.

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The Open Group London 2014: Eight Questions on Retail Architecture

By The Open Group

If there’s any vertical sector that has been experiencing constant and massive transformation in the ages of the Internet and social media, it’s the retail sector. From the ability to buy goods whenever and however you’d like (in store, online and now, through mobile devices) to customers taking to social media to express their opinions about brands and service, retailers have a lot to deal with.

Glue Reply is a UK-based consulting firm that has worked with some of Europe’s largest retailers to help them plan their Enterprise Architectures and deal with the onslaught of constant technological change. Glue Reply Partner Daren Ward and Senior Consultant Richard Veryard sat down recently to answer our questions about how the challenges of building architectures for the retail sector, the difficulties of seasonal business and the need to keep things simple and agile. Ward spoke at The Open Group London 2014 on October 20.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the retail industry right now?

There are a number of well-documented challenges facing the retail sector. Retailers are facing new competitors, especially from discount chains, as well as online-only retailers such as Amazon. Retailers are also experiencing an increasing fragmentation of spend—for example, grocery customers buying smaller quantities more frequently.

At the same time, the customer expectations are higher, especially across multiple channels. There is an increased intolerance of poor customer service, and people’s expectations of prompt response is increasing rapidly, especially via social media.

There is also an increasing concern regarding cost. Many retailers have huge amounts invested in physical space and human resources. They can’t just keep increasing these costs, they must understand how to become more efficient and create new ways to make use of these resources.

What role is technology playing in those changes, and which technologies are forcing the most change?

New technologies are allowing us to provide shoppers with a personalized customer experience more akin to an old school type service like when the store manager knew my name, my collar size, etc. Combining technologies such as mobile and iBeacons is allowing us to not only reach out to our customers, but to also provide a context and increase relevance.

Some retailers are becoming extremely adept in using social media. The challenge here is to link the social media with the business process, so that the customer service agent can quickly check the relevant stock position and reserve the stock before posting a response on Facebook.

Big data is becoming one of the key technology drivers. Large retailers are able to mobilize large amounts of data, both from their own operations as well as external sources. Some retailers have become highly data-driven enterprises, with the ability to make rapid adjustments to marketing campaigns and physical supply chains. As we gather more data from more devices all plugged into the Internet of Things (IoT), technology can help us make sense of this data and spot trends we didn’t realize existed.

What role can Enterprise Architecture play in helping retailers, and what can retailers gain from taking an architectural approach to their business?

One of the key themes of the digital transformation is the ability to personalize the service, to really better understand our customers and to hold a conversation with them that is meaningful. We believe there are four key foundation blocks to achieving this seamless digital transformation: the ability to change, to integrate, to drive value from data and to understand the customer journey. Core to the ability to change is a business-driven roadmap. It provides all involved with a common language, a common set of goals and a target vision. This roadmap is not a series of hurdles that must be delivered, but rather a direction of travel towards the target allowing us to assess the impact of course corrections as we go and ensure we are still capable of arriving at our destination. This is how we create an agile environment, where tactical changes are still simple course corrections continuing on the right direction of travel.

Glue Reply provides a range of architecture services to our retail clients, from capability led planning to practical development of integration solutions. For example, we produced a five-year roadmap for Sainsbury’s, which allows IT investment to combine longer-term foundation projects with short-term initiatives that can respond rapidly to customer demand.

Are there issues specific to the retail sector that are particularly challenging to deal with in creating an architecture and why?

Retail is a very seasonal business—sometimes this leaves a very small window for business improvements. This also exaggerates the differences in the business and IT lifecycles. The business strategy can change at a pace often driven by external factors, whilst elements of IT have a lifespan of many years. This is why we need a roadmap—to assess the impact of these changes and re-plan and prioritize our activities.

Are there some retailers that you think are doing a good job of handling these technology challenges? Which ones are getting it right?

Our client John Lewis has just been named ‘Omnichannel Retailer of the Year’ at the World Retail Awards 2014. They have a vision, and they can assess the impact of change. We have seen similar success at Sainsbury’s, where initiatives such as brand match are brought to market with real pace and quality.

How can industry standards help to support the retail industry?

Where appropriate, we have used industry standards such as the ARTS (Association for Retail Standards) data model to assist our clients in creating a version that is good enough. But mostly, we use our own business reference models, which we have built up over many years of experience working with a range of different retail businesses.

What can other industries learn from how retailers are incorporating architecture into their operations?

The principle of omnichannel has a lot of relevance for other consumer-facing organizations, but also retail’s focus on loyalty. It’s not about creating a sale stampede, it’s about the brand. Apple is clearly an excellent example—when people queue for hours to be the first to buy the new product, at a price that will only reduce over time. Some retailers are making great use of customer data and profiling. And above, all successful retailers understand three key architectural principles that will drive success in any other sector—keep it simple, drive value and execute well.

What can retailers do to continue to best meet customer expectations into the future?

It’s no longer about the channel, it’s about the conversation. We have worked with the biggest brands in Europe, helping them deliver multichannel solutions that consider the conversation. The retailer that enables this conversation will better understand their customers’ needs and build long-term relationships.

By The Open GroupDaren Ward is a Partner at Reply in the UK. As well as being a practicing Enterprise Architecture, Daren is responsible for the development of the Strategy and Architecture business as well as playing a key role in driving growth of Reply in the UK. He is committed to helping organizations drive genuine business value from IT investments, working with both commercial focused business units and IT professionals.  Daren has helped establish Architecture practices at many organizations. Be it enterprise, solutions, integration or information architecture, he has helped these practices delivery real business value through capability led architecture and business-driven roadmaps.

 

RichardVeryard 2 June 2014Richard Veryard is a Business Architect and author, specializing in capability-led planning, systems thinking and organizational intelligence. Last year, Richard joined Glue Reply as a senior consultant in the retail sector.

 

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Brand Marketing of Standards

By Allen Brown, President and CEO, The Open Group

Today everyone is familiar with the power of brands. Managed well, they can develop strong biases amongst customers for the product or service, resulting in greatly increased revenues and profits. Managed badly, they can destroy a product or an organization.

I was sitting in San Francisco International Airport one day. A very loud couple was looking for somewhere to get coffee. The wife said, “There’s a Peet’s right here.” Angrily the husband replied, “I don’t want Peet’s, I want Starbucks!”

A jewelry retailer in the UK had grown, in six years, from having 150 stores to more than 2,000, with 25,000 staff and annual sales of £1.2 billion. Then at the Institute of Directors conference at the Royal Albert Hall in 1991, he told an audience of 5,000 business leaders the secret of his success. Describing his company’s products, he said: ‘We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, for £4.95. People say “How can you sell this for such a low price?”  I say, because it’s total crap.’  As if that were not enough, he added that his stores’ earrings were ‘cheaper than a prawn sandwich, but probably wouldn’t last as long’.

It was a joke that he had told before but this time it got into the press. Hordes of people queued at his stores, immediately that word got out, to return everything from earrings to engagement rings. The company was destroyed.

The identity of a brand emerges through communication backed up by a promise to customers. That promise can be a promise of quality or service or innovation or style. Or it can be much less tangible: “people like you buy this product”, for example.

Early in my career, I worked for a company that was in the business of manufacturing and marketing edible oils and fats – margarines, cooking oils and cooking fat.   When first developed, margarine was simply a substitute for the butter that was in short supply in the UK during wartime. But when butter once again became plentiful, the product needed to offer other advantages to the consumer. Research focused on methods to improve the quality of margarine–such as making it easier to spread, more flavorful and more nutritious.

At the time there were many brands all focused on a specific niche which together amounted to something like a 95% market share. Stork Margarine was promoted as a low cost butter substitute for working class households, Blue Band Margarine was positioned slightly up-market, Tomor Margarine for the kosher community, Flora Margarine was marketed as recommended by doctors as being good for the heart and so on. Today, Unilever continues to market these brands, amongst many others, successfully although the positioning may be a little different.

Creating, managing and communicating brands is not inexpensive but the rewards can be significant. There are three critical activities that must be done well. The brand must be protected, policed and promoted.

Protection starts with ensuring that the brand is trademarked but it does not end there. Consistent and correct usage of the brand is essential – without that, a trademark can be challenged and the value of the brand and all that has been invested in it can be lost.

Policing is about identifying and preventing unauthorized or incorrect usage of the mark by others. Unauthorized usage can range from organizations using the brand to market their own products or services, all the way up to counterfeit copies of the branded products. Cellophane is a registered trademark in the UK and other countries, and the property of Innovia Films. However, in many countries “cellophane” has become a generic term, often used informally to refer to a wide variety of plastic film products, even those not made of cellulose,such as plastic wrap, thereby diminishing the value of the brand to its owner. There are several other well-known and valuable marks that have been lost through becoming generic – mostly due to the brand owner not insisting on correct usage.

Promotion begins with identifying the target market, articulating the brand promise and the key purchase factors and benefits. The target market can be consumers or organizations but at the end of the day, people buy products or services or vote for candidates seeking election and it is important to segment and profile the target customers sufficiently and develop key messages for each segment.

Profiling has been around for a long time: the margarine example shows how it was used in the past.   But today consumers, organization buyers and voters have a plethora of messages targeted at them and through a broader than ever variety of media, so it is critical to be as precise as possible. Some of the best examples of profiling, such as soccer moms and NASCAR dads have been popularized as a result of their usage in US presidential election campaigns.

In the mid-1990’s X/Open (now part of The Open Group) started using branding to promote the market adoption of open standards. The members of X/Open had developed a set of specifications aimed at enabling portability of applications between the UNIX® systems of competing vendors, which was called the X/Open Portability Guide, or XPG for short.

The target market was the buyers of UNIX systems. The brand promise was that any product that was supplied by the vendors that carried the X/Open brand conformed to the specification, would always conform and, in the event of any non-conformance being found, the vendor would, at their own cost, rectify the non-conformance for the customer within a prescribed period of time. To this day, there has only ever been one report of non-conformance, an obscure mathematical result, reported by an academic. The vendor concerned quickly rectified the issue, even though it was extremely unlikely that any customer would ever be affected by it.

The trademark license agreement signed by all vendors who used the X/Open brand carried the words “warrant and represent” in support of the brand promise. It was a significant commitment on the part of the vendors as it also carried with it significant risk and potential liability.   For these reasons, the vendors pooled their resources to fund the development of test suite software, so they could better understand the commitment they had entered into. These test suites were developed in stages and, over time, their coverage of the set of specifications grew.

It was only later that products had to be tested and certified before they could carry the X/Open brand.

The trademark was, of course protected, policed and promoted. Procurements that could be identified, which were mostly government procurements, were recorded and totaled in excess of $50bn in a short period of time. Procurements by commerce and industry were more difficult to track, but were clearly significant.

The XPG brand program was enormously successful and has evolved to become the UNIX® brand program and, in spite of challenges from open source software, continues to deliver revenues for the vendors in excess of $30bn per annum.

When new brand programs are contemplated, an early concern of both vendors and customers is the cost. Customers worry that the vendors will pass the cost on to them; vendors worry that they will have to absorb the cost. In the case of XPG and UNIX, both sides looked not at the cost but at the benefits. For customers, even if the vendors had passed on the cost, the savings that could be achieved as a result of portability in a heterogeneous environment were orders of magnitude greater. For vendors, in a competitive environment, the price that they can charge customers, for their products, is dictated by the market, so their ability to pass on the costs of the branding program, directly to the customer, is limited. However, the reality is that the cost of the branding program pales into insignificance when spread over the revenue of related products. For one vendor we estimate the cost to be less than 100th of 1% of related revenue. Combine that with a preference from customers for branded products and everybody wins.

So the big question for vendors is: Do you see certification as a necessary cost to be kept as low as possible or do you see brand marketing of open standards, of which certification is a part, as a means to grow the market and your share of that market?

The big question for customers is: Do you want to negotiate and enforce a warranty with every vendor and in every contract or do you want the industry to do that for you and spread the cost over billions of dollars of procurements?

brown-smallAllen Brown is President and CEO of The Open Group – a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through IT standards.  For over 15 years, Allen has been responsible for driving The Open Group’s strategic plan and day-to-day operations, including extending its reach into new global markets, such as China, the Middle East, South Africa and India. In addition, he was instrumental in the creation of the Association of Enterprise Architects (AEA)., which was formed to increase job opportunities for all of its members and elevate their market value by advancing professional excellence.

 

 

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Filed under Brand Marketing, Certifications, Standards, Uncategorized, UNIX