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A Reference Architecture for Interoperability in the European Union: A Conversation with Raul Abril

By The Open Group

Moving to a digital infrastructure requires far more interoperability and Boundaryless Information Flow™ than in the past. This is particularly true for digital transformation efforts within governments, many of which are known for being extremely siloed, where information exchange between government branches or agencies can be problematic.

The European Union is currently deploying an Interoperability Reference Architecture as part of its e-Government initiatives. We spoke with Raul Abril, Programme Manager, EU Policies for the European Commission, about how his team is going about building that architecture, which is known as the European Interoperability Reference Architecture. Raul will be a keynote speaker at The Open Group Paris 2016 on October 24.

Tell us a bit about the European Interoperability Reference Architecture. How was it designed and how is it currently being used?

First of all, the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) came from a vision. This vision was that it had to fulfill a need, and the need was expressed in the existence of digital barriers across European borders, which is against one of the major political priorities in the European Union: The creation of a real and effective single market. It had to be a reference to build up solutions that are interoperable. This is important at all levels (local, regional, national, European) of public administration because many of the e-Government solutions were created in a silo mode. There was a need to provide a common framework for solutions architects to design their solutions in a way that would allow their solutions to be interoperable. There was a business need obviously, and then the way of implementing the EIRA came from my personal professional experiences. The European Commission in general and the Interoperability Solutions for public Administrations unit, ISA in short, in particular, through the ISA2 Programme, have brought state of the art approaches and talent on board in order to address such needs.     

How does the EIRA help provide a structure for interoperable e-Government solutions?

EIRA helps in different ways. One obvious way is that the EIRA is a controlled vocabulary. There are definitions, there are building blocks and there are relationships and the set for those things is in a controlled vocabulary. Why is that important? Because we need to understand each other, so one way of achieving interoperability is by achieving and expressing our designs in the same way.

I’ll give you an example of it in practicality. When you are a public vendor, when you are a government or a member state and you ask for offers and want to express your terms of reference, if we are all using the same controlled vocabulary, there is no doubt that the conformance will be better. But there are other ways. How is EIRA supporting interoperability? The answer also comes from another important concept—the interoperability specifications. Those interoperability specs should be based in open standards. What makes a building block interoperable should be described using interoperability specifications. This becomes a critical success factor for achieving interoperability between solution A and solution B. Why? Because by doing that then solution A and solution B will be using the same interoperability specs. Does it mean that both will be interoperable? Not necessarily, but if they don’t have that it will be almost impossible for them to be interoperable. That’s where the EIRA supports interoperability.

We have started identifying what interoperability specs, based on standards, should be referred in each of the building blocks in the EIRA. 

How is TOGAF® helping to inform the EIRA?

TOGAF, an Open Group standard, is one well known approach for enterprise architecture frameworks (EAF). Of course, there are other EAFs. The reason for using TOGAF was because we consider it appropriate in terms of openness, which is what we’re looking for. This does not mean that European public administrations will have to use TOGAF.

EIRA is a reference architecture. A reference architecture is basically a reference model married to an architectural style. The architectural style we selected for EIRA was SOA, service oriented architecture. That was a critical decision, which means that we wanted to conceptualize any type of solution as being service based, which means that we also care about the code components. But we are also putting attention on the behavioral part. That’s why we selected SOA.

The reference model explains the ontological properties of the components that you’re going to have. How do you designate names? What are the properties of the relationships between them?, etc. We selected ArchiMate®, an Open Group standard,  as the ontology for our reference model. So, the EIRA is based on ArchiMate as the reference model and in a service oriented architecture as the architecture style.

After explaining the “RA” in the EIRA acronym, we should explain now the “I” for interoperability. In general, reference architectures like the EIRA do not have the same ambition as enterprise architecture frameworks. EAFs like TOGAF have the ambition to provide support for the end-to-end design, implementation and lifecycle of a solution. Reference architectures focus on a specific aspect—in the EIRA case, interoperability—and they need to provide the most salient—not all—architectural building blocks that should be considered to address such specific aspects. The EIRA provides guidance on the most salient architectural building blocks to be considered when designing an interoperable solution.

For example, if you are going to design whatever solution for a business or government, one of the things you’ll consider is back-up services. You’ll consider security measures, and one of those will be backing up your data, files, etc. The EIRA doesn’t care at all about back-up services—it doesn’t mean we don’t care about security, but we don’t care about back-up services because it’s not an essential service for interoperability.

At the beginning we identified the key architectural building blocks that were the most salient for supporting interoperability. Today, the EIRA is the result of a collaborative effort. So far a community of representatives of central public administrations of six European Member States have participated in the design and releases of EIRA  with their feedback and  they’ve been validating  the building blocks that EIRA has as the most salient for interoperability.

Are there challenges that are specific to building Reference Architectures for e-Government? What are they?

The biggest challenges are related to what I said before—getting a consensus in the community on what the interoperability specs should be and the standards for each of them.

Another challenge, I think, is adoption. There is a well-known issue with technology adoption in general and with solutions/frameworks/models in particular. One thing is to have the solution and it’s another to get it adopted. We are not talking about, let’s say, solutions for consumers like smartphones. We’re talking about communities of users that are very special. Generally speaking, solutions architects, portfolio managers, policy makers and also CIOs. Those are the potential users of reference architectures.

There is a lot of effort in communicating and disseminating information, and I don’t underestimate the effort it involves. Our challenge is in demonstrating to users and member states how they can use EIRA to solve national interoperability problems—for example, between their central, regional and local administrations, which in many places are huge. When users realize that the EIRA provides value addressing domestic problems, then they are better equipped to address their interoperability issues in cross-border public services.

What benefits do you expect to be able to receive from using the EIRA?

I expect first of all reusability. With interoperable solutions, you are able to reuse the information that has been produced in another place. So, we support the only once principle. The second one is the elimination of digital barriers. By interoperability of solutions we mean something as complex as to have a solution A in one place that is able to send information to another solution B, and that solution B is able to understand the information that has been communicated without noise and to process it respecting ex ante organizational and legal agreed terms. So, this is a more complex level of interoperability than just a message exchange because, for example, it should support administrative processes across borders. In fact, there has been significant progress understanding what is exchanged (i.e. message, data, documents) not mentioning that the technological aspects are well standardized. The issue remains on what happens in both ends from a legal and organizational perspective.

Coming back to the ultimate benefit, the EIRA will support the digital single market. By having interoperability you eliminate digital barriers. This is a huge expected benefit.

This translates into direct benefits for the citizens and businesses. In Europe there is, by comparison with the U.S., less mobility than in the U.S. If you move from the U.S. East Coast to the West Coast, there may be a three-hour time difference, but you will have less problems with many things. You may need to get a driver’s license in a new state but they recognize each other’s driver’s licenses. Here there are a lot of things to be achieved with the mobility of citizens and their needs in terms of public services. In some cases, if you want to move from one country to another, it is possible to access the public services of our home country via a portal. If we would be able to replicate this approach in all Member States and, very importantly, in a coherent way, then we would provide a huge benefit to citizens and businesses. The EIRA allows implementing holistically interoperability, not just from machine to machine. 

@theopengroup #ogPARIS

by-the-open-groupRaul Mario Abril Jimenez works in the ISA unit as Programme Manager, EU Policies, European Commission. He recently relocated to Brussels from Barcelona. He has had permanent residences in San Diego (USA) where he worked for 6 years and before he was based in Copenhagen (DK) for 7 years. He has +35 years of IT professional services experience on international professional engagements in Financial & Telco industries. His knowledge domains are Research Methods (Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis), Marketing (Research, IS), IT R&D (Portfolio Mgmt, Product Mgmt), Project Mgmt, and IS & Technology (Knowledge Management, DSS, BI, Data Warehousing, DBMS, IS Design). Raul has been professor in several universities and been active publishing his research.

Raul holds a doctoral degree (Henley Management College, UK), a European PhD Certification (European Doctoral School on Knowledge Management, DK), an Ing. Sup. Informatics (UAB, E), and a Master in Project Mgmt (The George Washington University, USA). He is a PMP certified professional.


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Filed under ArchiMate®, Boundaryless Information Flow™, Enterprise Architecture, EU, European Commission, Interoperability, Standards, The Open Group, The Open Group Paris 2016, TOGAF®, Uncategorized

Having the Right Conversations: A Q&A with Craig Alexander

By The Open Group

For many years now, IT departments have been accused of being out of alignment with the needs of the business. According to Craig Alexander, a strategic consultant for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in EMEA, IT4IT™ has a chance to finally change all that.

Alexander, who has a background in large business transformations, says that Enterprise Architects (EAs) and IT departments alike should be looking at the successes and failures of past projects to help them better plan for what they need to do today.

We spoke to Alexander in advance of The Open Group Paris 2016 (October 24-27), where he will be speaking, about how the past can inform IT projects today, why ITIL is still relevant despite the new approach the IT4IT standard offers and how to have the right conversations that will move projects forward and better guarantee successful outcomes for everyone.

The title of your session is “To Plan for the Future, Look to the Past.” Why should EAs be looking backwards to look forward?

I’m not an architect. My background is in traditional service management practice moving into transition management and large-scale transformations, all of which have a business outcome.

If we look back through the eyes of IT4IT—whether it be large scale programs or transformations—we can pick up points and things we’ve done in the distant past and see where we’ve learned our lessons that helped to arrive at IT4IT. But moreover, we can project that forward in terms of ‘let’s not forget what we learned in the past and use that knowledge and that information as we move forward with IT4IT programs, so we’ll be better informed and better able to succeed.’

The thing that got me thinking about that was, I reached a certain age recently and started getting interested in history, where I’d never really been interested in it when I was younger. One of the things that comes out all the time when you study history, whether you’re talking about conflicts, financial crashes or similar significant events, is that if you look into the past you can find out what might happen again in the future. History tells us what could happen in the future. That was the somewhat tenuous link I made in my mind in terms of my role and ‘Wouldn’t it have been great if we’d had IT4IT when we did this?’

One of the things I asked my very first customers on a project nearly 20 years ago was ‘Why are we here?’ At the time this drew strange looks and some incredulity with responses of ‘We’re here to do this, we’re here to do that.’ I remarked ‘That’s what we’re here to do—but why are we doing it?’ At this point the team looked puzzled and said ‘Well actually we hadn’t thought of that.’ The customer CIO then said, ‘That’s a good point—we should all understand why we’re doing what we’re doing,’ and proceeded to provide the context of the project. Then we all knew why we were there!

I’ve always used that approach, but it’s only been since IT4IT has come to the fore that common sense has started to prevail in the industry. It’s still very much the minority view, especially within IT teams. It’s not so much within architecture groups, especially those that are adopting IT4IT, but it’s very easy to get entrenched in technology and the benefits that can be most immediately realized with technology as opposed to how it reaches into why and how business plans succeed or fail.

Certainly in my time in the industry both at organizations within IT and at end-user organizations, one of the common things I’ve seen is that it’s very easy for clever, focused or driven people to be a little blinkered when it comes to the point of doing technology. I’ve never been one to advocate that approach. IT is not there for the sake of IT—IT is there for a business purpose. At some point prior to a project starting or a migration or change in supplier, someone made a business decision that led to that occurring. They didn’t make an IT decision. And that’s the realm in which I operate. I try to make sure anyone with an IT focus I work with has that perspective.

In what ways do you see the past of IT now informing the future?

We can look back at the origins of business decisions and what has arisen as a result of them—the standards that could have been used at the time, how they have supported progress and how they helped or restricted any transformation in an organization.

For example, a transformation may be primarily driven from an ITIL or architectural perspective over and above the supplier governance or integration—by aligning these factors differently the transformation results (i.e. business outcomes) could have been manifestly better for no additional cost.

That’s the sort of example of how we can use IT4IT moving forward—think back to how it might have worked elsewhere, what you might have learned and project that forward and don’t be afraid to shout about it. For large transformation projects, the more experience and more wealth of knowledge you have can increase the chances of that transformation succeeding.

Has ITIL then proved to be inadequate for what customers need today?

ITIL is great and has proven to be for as long as I can remember. It was the first thing I did in my post-graduate role. It’s been very powerful for customers and continues to be. I see a similar route for IT4IT 15 years hence in terms of its adoption and development, regardless of industry. With respect to IT4IT, ITIL is much more focused on the delivery end of things as opposed to the strategic end of things and the reference architecture. That’s not to say it can’t touch on it, but it was never really designed to be that.

The observation we see retrospectively when we work within the realms of IT4IT is that ITIL was descriptive in its nature not prescriptive, which is one of the key differences in its nature. That prescriptive approach was very positive up to a point because it allowed organizations to adopt principles and work in a way where things are applied best. I’ve worked with organizations that have been very knowledgeable, astute and mature in that regard where things are very specific to the company. But one of the challenges that has arisen in the past has stemmed from the ability to apply interpretation to the standard.  For example in a multi-supplier environment where various organizations can all be applying ITIL but in ways which require complex integrations and create unnecessary difficulty when technology, legislative or supplier changes are required.

I will never criticize ITIL for what it was if for no other reason than it was the heart of what I did for a number of years and it helped to mature the IT Industry. Now the IT4IT standard has been launched and is being consumed, there is probably more than a fair share of—pun intended—revisionist history being applied to ITIL, which played a role for its time and will continue to play an important role moving forward. IT4IT, however, goes a bit further to make the connection toward business outcomes.

How does IT4IT better address the needs of organizations today?

The approach that I have been taking for the last 18 months within the HPE group I work in is rather than having an initial conversation with customers about a technology solution, something going out of support or more functionality, we’re having a conversation that starts with: ‘What are you trying to achieve? What are the business outcomes you’re trying to realize? We think technology might play a part in that.’ This is usually conducted in conjunction with an IT sponsor (a senior decision-maker or stakeholder) along with someone from the IT department. We’re being told by our customers that we’re having the ‘right’ conversations now. It’s a different conversation, but it’s the right conversation to have because it’s allowing IT to have discussions with leaders in terms that the business understands much more effectively.

An extreme example: One of our customers found themselves justifying funding for IT projects, something they had not really done in the past. Why? The business simply could not understand the value they would get from the projects. Despite all the use of acronyms and IT technology ‘speak,’ the customers’ needs were simple. Deliver value. Tell us what this will be and when we will get it. IT could not articulate this so consequently funding was being withheld.

Because IT4IT is structured around IT as a value chain supported by value streams, when using it logically it drives the conversation to value. Customers love this and realize immediately that the technology conversations they have been having with IT are the wrong ones. They want the value conversations and IT4IT has a major role to play here. Other customers have also told us ‘we’ve been having the wrong conversation’ even before we tell them how IT4IT can specifically address their own particular challenges; it’s like a light has suddenly been switched on. These are game-changing situations.

That’s been the most positive outcome—there’s so many things that historically IT departments never did. They’re starting to think in much more business terms. If we think back about the rhetoric in our industry three years ago there was a lot of ‘What is the position of the CIO? Should they be on the Board?’ There was all this conjecture about what that role should be. Increasingly, the IT department is being looked upon as just another business unit, so if the CIO is able to have the same conversation at a board level as finance or sales or marketing, that puts them at a better advantage;. IT4IT only serves to support that agenda.

In looking toward the past, how large a scope should IT organizations consider? Should they just look at what’s worked for them in the past or do they need to consider the industry as a whole?

For me, it starts at home. What has worked for us in the past? What are the things we know best? What are the parts of the company that are more challenging than others? Are there geographies where projects work? At the same time, in most organizations there will be individuals who have come from different industries, so exploiting all of their experience should always be taken into account. But the primary focus is what is being projected forward and taking that learning and the best knowledge and using it.

The people aspect is the hardest. You can take statistics from a number of years and derive any number of conclusions from that, but the behavior and the culture of the organizations are probably the strongest indicators of what a transformation’s impact will be It’s relatively easy to swap out IT, it’s not easy to change organizational behavior. It’s a lot harder to change the way people think or to motivate them toward certain outcomes. That’s where I would be trying to derive the most information from. It’s easy to prescribe a technology transformation, but if the organization as an entity don’t go along with that, no amount of technology change is going to make difference.

As a standard, how can IT4IT continue to evolve so that it remains relevant into the future?

There is no doubt that the timing for IT4IT is perfect. The industry is crying out for a prescriptive approach to running the business of IT. Value delivery and value realization will the lifeblood of IT in the future. So will IT4IT evolve? Almost certainly. As more organizations adopt IT4IT there will definitely be amendments and improvements. After all the current reference architecture is only version 2. Where I think the biggest impact could be is if organizations start to mandate IT4IT and vendors have to become IT4IT compliant. That’s when we will see even larger scale adoption and greater evolution of IT4IT.

At the end of the day, everything is geared toward digitalization, the digital transformation of organizations. That is the one common thing we see—irrespective of industry, geography, scale, or political environment—the digital agenda is governing everything. It is certainly our view at HPE that IT4IT is a very important means to achieving that. And when we start talking about IT4IT in the context of digital transformation, the resonance of the relevance of the IT4IT architecture and the approach to how an organization aligns with that resonates much more. At the same time, it also helps with the legacy side of things. It’s not just about IT4IT being relevant from a future technology perspective but it also allows organizations to manage the legacy with a forward looking aspect. So we see a lot of enthusiasm around that as well.

Organizations want a common way of running their IT, a common set of standards irrespective of the supplier, irrespective of the maturity of the technology, and IT4IT is giving them that option. We urge our customers to think big and start small. Start with the specifics, start with the most important areas of the business. Where are the needs to be addressed, pains and challenges first, and then progress from there and bring other parts of the organization into that way of thinking.

I use the analogy with my customers that if they’re using an airline’s app on their smartphone to change their flight, change their seat or purchase baggage, that’s not a new system that they’re using on their phone. That’s just the portal through which they view the old system that’s been around for 25-30 years and they want to be able to use that trusted system. So there’s a need to marry the user experience and the technology.

Is there anything that you can point to that accounts for the rapid adoption of IT4IT since its release?

I think for many organizations, IT4IT is bringing things into focus. Customers are usually reluctant to say ‘We’re really struggling to find something that’s working for us.’ Admitting to struggling with something is not something that many organizations like to share. I think for many organizations in the position where the digital agenda and the need to think like customers’ customers is very prominent, they’re making the connection between this standard and the prescriptive approach. IT4IT is industry, supplier and technology agnostic, and customers can take it on and adopt it in whatever appropriate way they see for their own organization; they can make it work regardless of how little or much knowledge they have in their organization because there’s also a community of organizations out there, like ourselves, who will help them with their transformation. I think there is a light bulb moment going on where they say ‘Yes, this could work,’ where instead of marrying two or three standards together to make it work for them, it’s a common way to move forward—that’s the recognition with which the uptake has manifested itself.

We have never had a prescriptive reference architecture for running the business of IT so it’s hardly a surprise that now we have one organizations are interested to find out more and work out how to use IT4IT. As also mentioned earlier, other approaches such as ITIL took a slightly different approach and IT4IT addresses a gap that has yet to be addressed by any other approach. So it really is the right thing at the right time!

For the press release of the launch of the IT4IT standard, click here.

For more information on The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum, please visit here.

The Open Group IT4IT™ Reference Architecture, Version 2.0 is available here.

@theopengroup #ogPARIS

by-the-open-groupCraig Alexander joined HP in December 2011 as a Strategic Transformation Consultant to deliver transformation initiatives linked to the adoption of software solutions with much of this focus was around SIAM-based initiatives for major clients. Since the end of 2014, he has focused on creating and initiating IT4IT-based initiatives for EMEA-based customers. His role consists of consulting with customers to promote the benefits of adopting an IT4IT approach to delivery and transformation whilst leveraging the expertise and capabilities of the wider Hewlett Packard Enterprise organization to deliver true business value.





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Filed under Enterprise Architecture, HPE, IT4IT, Standards, The Open Group, The Open Group Paris 2016, Uncategorized

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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The Open Group Paris Event to Take Place in October 2016

The Open Group, the vendor-neutral IT consortium, is hosting its next global event in Paris, France, between October 24-27, 2016. The event, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, will focus on e-Government, as well as how to address the dimensions of e-Society, e-Technology and e-Management.

Industry experts will look at issues surrounding business transformation, business analysis, information sharing, e-Health, privacy and cybersecurity. Sessions will examine the strategic execution and the application of emerging technologies and management techniques to e-Government. Presentations will also include the latest on the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) and the Regulatory Impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on Personal Data Architecture.

The event features key industry speakers including:

  • Rob Akershoek, ‎Solution Architect (IT4IT), Shell
  • Robert Weisman, University of Ottawa
  • Roland Genson, Director, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
  • Olivier Flous, Vice President of Engineering, Thales Group

Full details on the agenda and speakers can be found here.

The focus of Monday’s keynote sessions will be Standardized Boundaryless Information Flow™ and how Enterprise Architecture can be used in e-Government. There will also be a significant emphasis on business transformation, with the Tuesday plenary and tracks looking at successful case studies, standards as enablers, and architecting the digital business.

Further topics to be covered at the event include:

  • IT4IT™ – managing the businesses of IT, vendor adoption of IT4IT™ and a CIO-level view of the standard
  • Open Platform 3.0™ – the customer experience and digital business, architecting Smart Cities and how to use IoT technologies
  • ArchiMate® – new features of ArchiMate® 3.0 and a look at open standards in practice
  • Open Business Architecture – examining the new Open Business Architecture standard and how to address enterprise transformation

Member meetings will take place throughout the course of the three-day event for ArchiMate®, Architecture, Healthcare, IT4IT™, Open Platform 3.0™, Open Trusted Technology and Security Forum members.

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

@theopengroup #ogPARIS



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IT4IT™ and TOGAF® – How Do They Fit Together?

By Michael Fulton, President, Americas Division of CC and C Solutions

In my role leading work in both the Enterprise Architecture space as well as the IT Transformation space, I am frequently asked how IT4IT™ and TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, fit together, and how the Enterprise Architecture profession fits into the IT4IT context.

My experience working with clients in this space has led me to look this question from two key perspectives.

The first perspective is from the vantage point of the CIO using IT4IT to look at his or her organization for improvement opportunities. At this level of enquiry there are two primary views: the IT Value Chain and the Level 1 Reference Architecture.

By Mike Fulton, President, C C and C SolutionsBy Michael Fulton, President, CC and C Solutions

By Mike Fulton, President, C C and C SolutionsFrom this perspective, Enterprise Architecture is a small piece of the overall big picture.

There are 29 functional components in the Level 1 reference architecture of which EA is simply one of many.  Within the EA functional component it is appropriate to use whatever architecture framework we see fit, to guide process or best practices for Enterprise Architecture.

TOGAF, along with counterparts like DODAF, FEAF, Zachman and others, simply fits into this box and needs to be integrated with other parts of the IT organization through the development of the Service Architecture.

For a CIO, IT4IT gives me a way to look across my organization, and to assess all its functional components for quality or maturity (or whatever other factor is important) and to decide where my biggest pain points are.

IT4IT also gives the CIO a very clear way to understand the data needed to manage an IT organization and provides a framework for evaluating how well that data is flowing across the different organizational silos.

A second perspective for which IT4IT is useful is that of an Enterprise Architect.  As an Enterprise Architect, it would be my job to look across the entire enterprise.  We use the Porter Value Chain here as one simple representation of a way to segment your Enterprise Architecture according to TOGAF.


By Michael Fulton, President, CC and C SolutionsAs you can see from the highlight on the diagram, IT is one of several areas in the business.  Each of these areas might have an industry reference model appropriate for use for one or several of the areas.

Examples include ARTS, BIAN, SCOR, VCG, APQC or many others.  IT4IT in this context is simply a reference architecture for managing the Technology Development (or IT) support function.  IT4IT provides us with the details we need to truly understand how IT needs to work.


By Michael Fulton, President, CC and C Solutions

Neither perspective on how to use IT4IT is more or less important.

The CIO can get significant value from using IT4IT in a top-down manner as a strategic assessment tool to drive improvement across the IT function and help transform the IT Operating Model.

The Enterprise Architect can get significant value from using IT4IT in more of a bottom-up manner as a reference model to speed up architecture work and to drive vendor integration and standardization in the IT Management tool space.

Regardless of whether you use IT4IT in a top down or bottom up manner, it helps to understand how the pieces fit together for you and your organization.


By Michael Fulton, President, CC and C SolutionsMichael Fulton is currently President, Americas Division of CC and C Solutions, a global Enterprise Architecture and IT Transformation Consulting and Training company.  Michael is an experienced architect with almost 10 years of experience in Enterprise Architecture and over 20 years of IT experience. He is TOGAF Certified, IT4IT Certified and a Cloud Certified Architect and has led IT4IT Architecture, Cloud Architecture, IT Strategic Planning, Disruptive Cost Innovation, IT Leadership Development, and EA Capability & Training Development at Fortune 50 Company. Michael also spent time working across the entire IT Lifecycle, including time in Service Management, Program Management, Project Management, Application Development, and IT Operations. Mike is an experienced speaker and trainer, a practiced leadership and strategy coach and mentor and is well known across the industry. He brings a strategic viewpoint and the ability to communicate with all levels of the organization.





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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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