“Postmodern IT” and Enterprise Architecture

We all want to know where IT is going in the future, what the trends are, so we can meet our future in it head-on.

CIO Magazine, 1 May 2006, had an article called, “The Postmodern Manifesto”, predicting what the postmodern IT department will look like. 2+ years have passed (a long time in IT according to Moore’s Law), but these IT trends remain solid and true.

  • Business innovation—“IT will assume responsibility for business innovation across the company. IT has spent the better part of 40 years automating business processes…IT’s role in process innovation will only increase…’we’ve gone from being the engineers of new processes to being the movers of innovation across the company,’” says Judith Campbell CIO of New York Life.

This view is consistent with the Federal Enterprise Architecture Practice Guidance, November 2007 that states: “Results-oriented architecture is developed with the context of the Performance Improvement Lifecycle broken down into three-phases: ‘Architect’, ‘Invest’ and ‘Implement’. Each lifecycle phases is comprised of tightly integrated processes which combine to transform an agency’s top-down strategic goals and bottom-up system needs into a logical series of work products designed to help the agency achieve strategic results.”

Bottom line is the IT function and enterprise architecture in particular is viewed as the discipline for business process reengineering, improvement, and the introduction of new technologies, and the measure of success is results—cost-savings, cost-efficiencies, and performance improvements.

  • Federated governance—“IT governance will settle on the federated model and shared services…CIO’s have come to a consensus on the overall model for IT: a mix of centralized and local services known as the federated model, which is governed centrally by a small headquarters staff that gives varying degrees of autonomy to IT groups allied with different business units, functions or geographies.”

This is consistent with the need for IT organizations to be interoperable, secure, share information and services, and be cost effective, yet at the same time stay nimble and allow “unique resources to remain local.”

  • Return on Investment (ROI)—“IT ROI will become even more difficult to prove…Tacit IT is not about automation…Tacit IT is all about decision support, knowledge management, business intelligence and artificial intelligence…And the pressure will be on vendors to make technology think rather than automate.”

IT has always been challenged in measuring return on investment (or in the government return on mission), but it is especially difficult when it comes quantifying the return on an abstract called information.

This performance measurement challenge is manifest in the field of enterprise architecture as well.

At the 1105 Government Information Group Enterprise Architecture Conference in DC this past week, Keith Herrington of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) presented the following:

“• Observation: Within the Federal government there is no observed link between the maturity of the enterprise architecture effort and the performance of the enterprise as a whole.”

I too have personally seen many agencies struggle to quantify the results of their IT and architecture programs and hence, anecdotal evidence, unfortunately continues to prevail as the default “measurement.”

  • Transformation—“CIOs will have to step up…’the concept of providing a secure, stable infrastructure is merely the price of admission,’ says Jeffrey Campbell, CIO of BNSF Railway. ‘[to survive], you have to be a transformational CIO.’”

So true! According to an article in Architecture and Governance Magazine, Volume 3, Issue, “Metrics that Matter”: “IT should measure three types of attributes in what is essentially a modified form of the Balanced Scorecard approach to measure performance and change management. Those three attributes are: strategic value, project management effectiveness, and operational effectiveness. Ironically, while the first two matter the most to executives in most cases, IT typically focuses on the third area, which executives only care about if the IT department has a history of failure and thus needs to be closely monitored on the basics.”

Yes, we need to make sure the IT computer and server “lights” stay on, the network is up and the communications are available, but more importantly we need to take IT to the next level, to strategically partner with the business to architect, govern, and achieve genuine, measureable ROI and transformation!

  1. thetotalcio posted this
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