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Business-Driven Architect

Brenda Michelson

Business Ecology: Optimization for Innovation

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As I mentioned in my 2010 plans, one of my projects this year is writing and advocacy for the OMG’s Business Ecology Initiative (BEI).  This morning, we launched the new Business Ecology Initiative blog, and I published the following overview post on Business Ecology, the Business Ecology Initiative and Business Ecology enablers. 

As you read the post, you’ll notice several themes common to my on-going writings (soapboxes), which is why getting involved with the BEI is a no-brainer for me.  The original post follows.

What is Business Ecology?

Business Ecology is a business-technology imperative focused on streamlining business processes, removing waste from technology portfolios, and adjusting resource consumption, to optimize business operations and foster business innovation.

As the world economy emerges from a painful recession, organizations are confronted with the challenge of retaining bottom-line diligence, while pursuing market sustaining and gaining innovation. 

For many organizations, the answer lies in harvesting savings and trapped value from existing processes, resources and capabilities.  To accomplish this, organizations are turning to Business Ecology. 

Business Ecology is not a one-time fix, but rather a management philosophy concerned with business vitality over time, balancing current conditions, optimization and innovation focus areas, resource allocations, and longer-term business motivations, capabilities and outcomes.

An important enabler of Business Ecology is the use of technology beyond automation. Business Ecology practitioners employ technology to identify, measure, model and drive business change. 

Business Ecology adoption and execution requires a cross functional team, comprised of business and information technology professionals. Key team capabilities include business process thinking, business performance measurement and analysis, financial analysis, IT architecture, portfolio management, service delivery and iterative project management.

Successful Business Ecology initiatives adopt the principles and values of Business Technology.  The team communicates with each other, sponsors and constituents in a common, business based language.  Measurement is defined and reported in business terms.  Funding and governance decisions and mechanisms reflect a shared resource, investment portfolio approach.

As Business Ecology teams progress, technology and business savvy is exchanged, fostering a greater understanding of each other’s challenges, skills and tools, which leads to a break in the longstanding, constraining, business and IT divide.  A byproduct of successful Business Ecology is business-IT integration.

The Chief Information Officer (CIO), given his/her unique position to view business processes, resource consumption, and technology portfolios across the organization, most often champions Business Ecology adoption and execution.  C-level executives, including the CEO, CFO and COO, sponsor Business Ecology initiatives.

What is the Business Ecology Initiative?

OMG, via the Business Ecology Initiative, leads the drive towards Business Ecology. 

The Business Ecology Initiative provides education, advocacy and member programs to enable organizations to achieve Business Ecology success, employ Actionable ArchitectureTM, and carve a path to business-IT integration.

Actionable ArchitectureTM brings transparent business methodology to the definition and delivery of common IT infrastructure, platforms and services.  Emphasized business attributes include quality, efficiency, compliance, agility, value, effectiveness, ease of use, sustainability and business goal traceability.

Business-IT Integration is the organizational model for business and information technology convergence.  This model promotes collaborative strategy, planning, architecture and execution; shared decision-making, business-tech savvy personnel and service delivery at the point of value generation.   

What enables Business Ecology?

Techniques: LEAN, Six Sigma, BPM, Value Chain Analysis, Actionable ArchitectureTM , Business Technology, Agile, Modeling, Simulation, Business Measurement, and Sustainability Analysis

Technology: SOA, BPM, Cloud Computing, Event Processing, Analytics, Master Data Management (MDM), and Open Standards

Measurement Models: Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM), Sustainability Assessment Model (SAM)

People: C-level executives, business and information technology professionals, who embrace the philosophy of Business Ecology


[Disclosure: The Business Ecology Initiative is a client of my firm, Elemental Links.]


Hi Brenda,
I am going to compete with my Business Ecology Initiative & Service-Oriented Solution BLOG.

For the beginning, techniques like LEAN, Six Sigma, BPM, Value Chain Analysis are not helping the goal set by OMG: "[Business Ecology] is focused on erasing the artificial lines between business and Information Technology (IT) so that IT becomes a ubiquitous, integral and vital asset to the company and leads decision-making, structural change and enterprise-wide quality initiatives, drives efficiency and revenue, and provides measurable, clear return on investment."

All these process-centric techniques lived and can live perfectly keeping separation between Business and Technology.

I believe that only service orientation concept has potentials to help in the merge between Business and Technology. Service orientation have included BPM already, service orientation is the image of the world/business for C-level executives, Value Network Analysis incorporates Value Chain Analysis, etc. Just standing at the process-centric position, it is very difficult to see the perspectives of Business-Technology unity, especially in Clouds.

You can read about SO-based approach BEI in my book 'Ladder to SOE' (http://michaelpoulinssite.homestead.com/My-Book.html)

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the comment.

Breaking down the business-IT divide, moving to business-IT integration, is viewed as an important outcome of successful business ecology:

"As Business Ecology teams progress, technology and business savvy is exchanged, fostering a greater understanding of each other’s challenges, skills and tools, which leads to a break in the longstanding, constraining, business and IT divide. A byproduct of successful Business Ecology is business-IT integration."

However, the primary goals of business ecology are "streamlining business processes, removing waste from technology portfolios, and adjusting resource consumption, to optimize business operations and foster business innovation.".

Certainly, technology and service-orientation play a big role in achieving business ecology's goals, but so do business techniques, measurement and personnel.

I understand that the early publications on Business Ecology emphasized the business-IT divide aspect. We are working on getting the complete message out now.

Thanks for your interest. I'll check out your book.



Hi Brenda, Michael,

I also believe SOA play a big role in achieving busienss ecology's goals.

Although the proimary goals of business is to remove waste, optimize business processes, etc, without technology (SOA), business processes may not be optimized fully, such as define manual processes and automate processes, reusable services, and alignment between businesses and ITs.

It was an interesting article! :-)

Many Thanks
Kwong-Chi Lee

Brenda Michelson, Principal of Elemental Links, shares her view on architectural strategies, technology trends, business, and relevance.

Brenda Michelson

Brenda Michelson is the principal of Elemental Links an advisory & consulting practice focused on business-technology capabilities that increase business visibility and responsiveness. Follow Brenda on Twitter.


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