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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Gartner's EA hypecycle critique

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Gartner's news on Enterprise Architecture leaves me a bit baffled as usual. This seems to become a quarterly forecast aimed to direct the community on the right EA track. Let's dissect a bit the news. 

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The message is centred around the EA hypecycle that Gartner wished to show us all. So many EA "technologies" were placed on it that the field looks teeming with activity. I wish it were so. 

"Visualisation, Simulation..." is the first car climbing the curve, right at the beginning and rightly so because it was there and will stay there for a long time. Until we have an EA model. 

"Hybrid thinking" is a way mixing design, marketing, accounting... and in general artistic, humanistic and technological thinking. Anyone here would have thought that this is the case for now; but it's not, just look at some ugly products out there. It looks like a popular buzzword with the business nowadays. It's still hard to envisage what this has to do with EA though. But let's trust them for now. 

"Pattern based strategy" is next in line. 
"There is a way to see things coming. It's a framework for proactively seeking and acting on the early and often-termed "weak" signals forming patterns in the marketplace. It's also about the ability to model the impact of patterns on your organization and identify the disciplines and technologies that help you consistently adapt. It's called Pattern-Based Strategy". 
Looks like a Gartner concept that has more to do with strategy specification which is not really in the EA domain, unless you know EA architects who develop the strategy for their company. 

An observation at this point: this really turns out to be a Gartner's hypecycle in that these "technologies" are really added because Gartner thinks so rather than being used out there. At least this is my feeling. 

"Middle-out approach"- 
"Middle-out architecture is an approach to EA whereby architects focus on managing the key dependencies among those parts of the organisation that have the biggest impact on the ability to change. A middle-out approach focuses on architecting interoperability by defining a small but rigidly enforced set of general, stable interface standards, while allowing complete autonomy of decision making for the specific technologies and products that are used within the solutions. This approach is highly suited for organisations and "business ecosystems," where the business units, partners, and suppliers are not under the direct control of a central EA team." 
The middle out approach looks like a service based approach to architecture sometimes called SOA. Isn't this an old way to say good old things? 

"Managed diversity": 
"The standards process of the past no longer works to protect the management and security aspects of the enterprise. Gartner's enterprise architecture concept, "managed diversity," brings order to the chaos" and "project teams can decide which product best fits the project needs, rather than having a single standard imposed on them" says Gartner. 
And "Gartner has identified four basic approaches to EA - traditional, federated, middle out and managed diversity. Analysts said that the majority of clients will, in reality, support a mixture of more than one of these approaches based on their business needs." 
It looks like whatever it is, the advice is to cover all bases in what you do. 

It is coming well together in with "Hybrid Thinking", "Patterns based strategy", Middle Out" ... I am not sure they really happen out there where you and I live but they sound good. Good for management talk. Quote Gartner. 

"Enterprise solution architecture" and " Enterprise information architecture" have been happening for a long time now with or without EA. They should be more or less past this cycle. Or the speed of crossing the cycle is very different from technology to technology. Any opinion? The only problem with these technologies is that they should be integrated in the EA. 

"EA governance" should not be there. It is not really "emerging". After all, this hypecycle is used to analyse emerging technologies. 

"Business capability modelling", "Enterprise business architecture" they are in their infancy, it is true since no one in the business has come with a business architecture framework. Does Gartner have one? 

"EA certification" is old enough to be on the plateau. Only that there should be a single approach to be done against unlike now where one can choose to pass multiple orthogonal certifications. That does not guarantee that the candidate would be able to deliver EA, unfortunately. 

"Business driven architecture" seems to have fallen in disgrace for some reason. After all that is what IT is doing in terms of EA now. 

At the top of the curve is "EA performance Management"; that could be in terms of interest it raises rather than in terms of technology or deliveries. People don't know yet how to measure EA performance or value, for that matter. Should not be there. 

On the downside, falling quickly is "EA frameworks". I agree entirely. We go through the "winter of discontent". 

Then at the "trough of disillusionment" are the EA tools; those on the Gartner's Magic Quadrant as well? Very true. Well, the tool frameworks have no frameworks from the academia, no metamodels... They need help from us here. 

Don't know about the "Whole-of-Government" EA. It outlived a few US presidencies though. 

"Enterprise Architecture" itself appears surprisingly on the bottom of hypecycle where it may fall through. 
How come? Later on on the hype, doing quite well, is the "Traditional EA" approach though. What is the difference? After all EA consists of Information Architecture, Business Architecture placed on the climbing curve of the cycle. We need urgent explanations. 

"EA assurance" whatever that means without a clear EA definition, scope and frameworks, is climbing though the plateau of productivity. 

"Federated EA" seems to be doing well; "Enterprise technology Architecture" seems to be productive. I suppose this is IT, not just any technology. 

Surprise, surprise at the end, being quite productive, is "Business Process Analysis". I asked quite a few times what is the role business process frameworks play in EA and never got an answer from architects. It looked like it does not belong here if you ask the EA architects.  How is it integrated in the EA work? That is the question. How do we use business process frameworks?

How are we supposed to  use this EA hypecycle? I think that the intention is thatwe ask Gartner. 

Some questions linger though. Why "EA governance" "EA Information Architecture" are at the beginning of the cycle when "EA" itself is at the trough and "traditional EA" is nearly productive? 

There are a few Gartner's EA proposals, as expected at the beginning of the cycle not really sanctioned by the community of EA. I also suppose that Gartner's "Emergent EA" was lost in translation somehow.

After all, the message is good:

"As IT roles shift away from technology management to enterprise management, EA is suited to bring clarity to these blurred boundaries, and, by 2015, increased adoption of EA processes and uses by business will further IT's alignment with the organization's culture, future-state vision and delivery of business value outcomes ... 
We predict that by 2015, the marketplace of EA practitioners will find a landscape very different from today's environment," said Betsy Burton, research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "To prepare for 2015, EA practitioners need to ensure that EA practices are driven by a clear business vision and defined business context, and that their EA program has stabilized the practices and disciplines that are less than two years to mainstream adoption."

Stay put and positive. Things are happening.

So long, and if you need to understand what EA is check 
Adrian @ 
http://www.enterprise-architecture-matters.co.uk/ea-links

3 Comments

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Adrian,

Good post. I couldn't agree with you more. Gartner's Hype Cycle has more entries that consists of 'what Gartner thinks should be there' rather than 'what is actually happening out there'. It amazes me that Gartner expects organizations to plan based on these hype cycles. If we were to develop a hype cycle for Gartner's Hype cycle approach, then I'd place it deep in the 'trough of disillusionment'.

Adrian,

I very much agree with you. One the problems I have with Gartner Hype Cycles in general is that on the one hand users do not always know what they want, nor do they know what is out there and Gartner does not deliver solutions. So we have a gap between what Garter find out from users who are uninformed and analysts who do not have practical experience.

If we only sell strawberries that is all people will know. The art is shifting what they know and introducing them to new things that will make a difference.

There is a danger in people accepting Gartner and others as representing some sort of truth for the future. Gartner is always behind pushing not at the front leading.

@Steve,
This is "know what they want, nor do they know what is out there and Gartner does not deliver solutions" is what is called an INDEPENDENT research company.
See what disaster you get with companies that don't have enough collection capabilities (resources):
http://pragmaticea.com/images/ovum-survey.png

The panel was of 151 companies.

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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