Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Business vs IT - Enterprise Architecture

I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast seminar this morning, organised by glue:. The subject of the seminar was "Managing IT Enabled Change". The theme was the idea of a common language to allow enterprise architects to talk to the business. The session was kicked off by glue:'s CEO Gareth Lloyd, who gave a very clear presentation of the context and in particular explained the need for a common language. After that Ceri Williams, also of glue:, provided some explanation of the meaning of a common language and how it fits in with EA, business strategy, business transformation and programme management. This was underpinned by Jes McPhee from Troux Technologies, who demonstrated how their tool can be used to support change analysis in support of business objectives. Finally Daren Ward, business architecture principal at Marks and Spencer, provided some real-world feedback on the use and applicability of business architecture.

While it was all very interesting and I enjoyed the presentations and the interchange of ideas, I had, and still have, a fundamental problem with the thesis presented. For me, enterprise architecture is precisely about ensuring that IT supports the overall business in achieving its goals. The glue: presentations, deliberately or unwittingly, talked about IT and 'the business' as though they were separate functions; in today's competitive environment it is not possible to get competitive advantage on any significant scale without having IT at the core of the business - 'the business' and IT should be indivisible.

That said, EA has largely been driven by the IT side of the world so there is still work to do in evangelizing the EA cause in organisations. And better tool support that talks about business problems and business issues, rather than servers and networks, is only to be welcomed.