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Today, corporate executives have access to numerous business and technology opportunities for improving performance. Some deal with the integration of business and technology while others deal with technology alone. What is motivating these executives to consider the possibilities promised by these performance improvement initiatives? Most likely, these executives are coming under increasing pressure to deliver more with less, while increasing profits and cutting costs. Some have the luxury of developing strategic initiatives based on the corporate vision, while others are struggling with the pain associated with cost overruns, delayed project completions and excessive technology costs. Many executives are chasing an illusive business model, one that changes more rapidly and is further compounded by an equally illusive supporting technology model.

For example, say you are the brand new CEO of a mid-cap company. If you ask the COO, the CFO, the VP of Sales, the VP of Human Resources and the CIO to come to a meeting with a business model of the enterprise, what do you think they will present? It is a safe bet that each will present a different model of the enterprise. Most assuredly, each will present accurate information, and compliment their discussion with a rich and descriptive dialogue. However, each will present a somewhat different view of the enterprise, just as the children’s story of the blind men describing an elephant.

If each executive were to post their respective model on the wall, it is doubtful that one model will illustrate relationships with the other models. Their verbal descriptions might explain the relationships, but unless you record their conversation, most is lost after the presentation. The new CEO will never glean an understanding of the enterprise by simply reviewing the models posted on the wall. The models are probably not consistent and not rich enough in semantics and syntax to precisely describe the complexity of the business. If you do not believe this, then just try it as an experiment and see what happens!

In order to build any complex thing, such as a house, ship, airplane or enterprise, you must have some sort of formal model of its structure or architecture, developed through a deliberate, disciplined engineering approach. Models and architectures are requisite for houses, ships and airplanes, but are virtually non-existent for enterprises though just as mandatory. If they do exist for an enterprise, most likely the models are not integrated, but presented as separate parts of a disconnected whole. What do you get if you run the experiment suggested above? Perhaps it will be a marketing presentation, and, once you get past the attractive high-level slides and overheads, you will find very little useful substance that can be used in research, analysis, and design. The models and architectures that do exist are usually out of date, not integrated, unavailable to the typical business and IT manager, and consequently are seldom used or exploited when undertaking a major new strategic initiative.


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