I attended the complete Gartner ITxpo 2018 in Orlando, Florida this month along with approximately 9000 other folks. It is the largest gathering of CIOs each year that Gartner hosts and is a real extravaganza. I have attended it the last 18 years in a row, a rare feat, and am therefore obviously an admirer of the extraordinary collection of intellectual capital that Gartner helps brings together through its own experts and the attendees themselves. Because the main U.S. version of this has always taken place at a complex of hotels in the Disneyland Empire, and because it is almost like a Hollywood production itself, I fondly call it "Gartnerland" -- it is always first class and a lot of fun.
However, like so many Hollywood-type features, it is more of an adventure than a demanding intellectual engagement and one needs to keep that in perspective -- keep one's expectations relatively low. Back before Sarbanes-Oxley became law, CEOs of the largest companies in the world would come to Gartner to make announcements that were always big news. That is no longer the case, of course, so it is more about the "buzz", the mood, and the general direction of transformation in the world of the CIO, which means both business and technology themes are front and center.
The theme for the last few years has been Digital Transformation. The latest one (kind of a cop-out because of its vagueness?) is ContinuousNext. In short, there is an increasing demand for change from the business and it is expected to happen with ever greater velocity despite exponentially expanding complexity linked, in part, to Digital Transformation. But there is so much more in play that must now be factored in that CIOs must get on top of over the next few years. These include Artificial/Augmented Intelligence (AI) at the top of the list, but also Design Thinking to address that and any other of the latest transformational priorities, including how to leverage Blockchain technology across all verticals.
From an Enterprise Architecture (EA) perspective, leading analysts at Gartner openly admit that, if done well, it can be a great enabler, but bemoan that it has been done so poorly so many places over the past 10 years or so that many people have become disillusioned by it. Leading analysts at this major CIO gathering the past two years have essentially apologized for EA not having achieved success in too many cases because of poor planning and execution of the attempted programs.
That noted, one of the major areas from which Gartner receives high-margin consulting revenues is EA consulting, even though they have invested very little in the research aspects of it and thus have lost myriad opportunities to make it a more mature discipline by now when World Class EA would be so pivotal.
Of course, as a for-profit company, it is not Gartner's mission to contribute a better "Action EA" to the world, and they have left the EA Framework business to others while scoffing too often at the value of any particular framework, which I have found to be a very counterproductive decision.
To conclude, EA can be done better but it must be customized. However, one must leverage the best building blocks from various frameworks, methodologies, tools, and techniques to design and rollout ones that do the synchronization and harmonization so possible from a value-creating, integrative EA program. This is something that EA Principals specializes in, having worked with hundreds of organizations, including Fortune 10 ones, to help them learn how to think like architects and start their programs on a solid basis so they can mature them incrementally and a way that matches business requirements and the organization culture.
New building blocks are emerging in which architects must become expert as soon as possible. These include AI and Blockchain, as well as Data Analytics, Design Thinking, Data Security and Privacy, and how to structure to support better workflow between Enterprise and Solution Architects on the design side and engineers on the implementation side. At the same time, though, the appetite for EA spending is going to be restricted in favor of focusing more on the solution and execution side. Therefore, EA programs must be designed to get up and running quickly and on a clear path to business value added and, if possible, even to quantifiable Return on Investment, as EA cannot be seen as simply a gamble or some academic, overhead expense. Better communication and education about EA is essential, now more than ever, and EA Principals is proud to be at the forefront of meeting these challenges based on its decades of experience in EA.
Authored by Dr. Steve Else, Chief Architect & Principal Instructor