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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Business services versus capabilities

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Neither business service nor capability are unanimously defined and agreed so far.
In the absence of sanctioned definitions, the subject is then open to interpretation until an wide agreement is reached. 
Nevertheless, employing common sense meanings, a business service can be defined in relation to a customer and supplier pair. The customer is external to the service but not necessarily to the enterprise. In fact the notion of "externality" is relative. A business service can have internal customers and and as such can be "internal" to the enterprise.

A capability is something the enterprise can do, can deliver. It has the expertise, the technology and the organisation to do it. Capabilities can be planned and realised as such.

What can a capability do? Deliver a business service indeed.

Hence, there is a strong relationship between them.
The question is do we need both in representing a business architecture? Yes? No?

Enterprises are not services oriented, not yet, that is they they don't have well cut business services. But they do have capabilities.
Hence, for most enterprises I would employ the capabilities concept. 
For a potential target state of such enterprises, I would use the business service concept as an evolution from capability.

For example, in an enterprise there is often an IT Help Desk.  Once this capability is formalised and well defined with interfaces, contracts...  then it becomes a service eventually supplied by someone else or in the cloud.

More in "The Enterprise Architecture matters blog" Kindle ebook athttp://www.amazon.com/Enterprise-Architecture-matters-blog-ebook/dp/B00C3MJJ1O to find the difference between a capability and a function or process, for instance.


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I must admit some fuzziness (best tech term I could think of) between capability and service. I'm wondering if its the same relationship (analogously) between Interface and Application? I'm thinking of the TOGAF metamodel.

Your thoughts?

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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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