February 29, 2008

A Pocket Printer and Enterprise Architecture

Ever wonder what happened to the old Polaroid cameras—you know point, click, shoot, and out pops your photo? Very cool technology for a society that expects, no demands, instant gratification.

Polaroid photos were great while they lasted, but their pictures have become obsolete with new digital photography.

However, Polaroid has a new architecture to transform itself. They have developed a pocket printer to enable the printing of digital photos from cell phones and cameras.

MIT Technology Review, 7 January 2008, reports that Polaroid’s “new handheld printers produce color photos using novel thermal-printing technology developed at Polaroid spinoff Zink Imaging…[and] will be priced at less than $150.”

How does the pocket printer work?

The printer is about the size of a deck of cards. A user who takes a picture on a cell phone or camera can wirelessly send the file to the printer using Bluetooth, a common short-range wireless technology used in cell phones, or PictBridge, a wireless technology found in a number of cameras. The result is a two-inch-by-three-inch photo printed on paper engineered by Zink.”

Where does the printer cartridge go in the small pocket printer?

The printing technology is similar to that of a common thermal printer…since Zink's technology eliminates the need for printer cartridges...it has led to the smallest printers on the market, and it could eventually be integrated into cell phones and cameras. It would also dispense with the inconvenience of ink cartridges that unexpectedly begin to run out of ink, and which have to be replaced. "When you go to replace an ink-jet cartridge today, it's in the $40 range," Herchen says. With Zink, a person pays only by the print. Polaroid expects to sell the photo paper for $0.30 a page.”

What challenges does the pocket printer face?

“People are accustomed to e-mailing pictures to each other or sending them to each other's phones, and they probably won't want to carry around another gadget just to print pictures on the spot.” But this concern can be obviated if the printer can be integrated into the cell phone or camera, in essence creating a modern digital Polaroid camera equivalent.

From a User-centric EA perspective, you’ve got to hand it to Polaroid to extend their expertise in instant photography to the digital photo age. They have come up with a novel idea and have executed on it, so that it is standards-based (Bluetooth and PictBridge), interoperable with other technologies (cell phones and cameras), small and affordable—thus, appealing to end-users. It would be nice to see the pocket printer work with MS Office applications, so I can print my blog and other work on the go.


February 28, 2008

Bionic Eyes and Enterprise Architecture

Remember the TV shows The Bionic Man and Woman? These folks had implants that gave them amazing super-human strength, speed, hearing, and vision.

Bionics is a term which refers to flow of ideas from biology to engineering and vice versa…In medicine, Bionics means the replacement or enhancement of organs or other body parts by mechanical versions. Bionic implants differ from mere prostheses by mimicking the original function very closely, or even surpassing it. (Wikipedia)

Believe it or not, bionic eyes are now a reality, at least in a research stage.

MIT Technology Review, 25 January 2008, reports that “researchers have created an electronic contact lens that could be used as a display or medical sensor.”

Although, this bionic eye cannot see miles away like a telescope yet, it was created to see if it would be possible to fulfill two primary purposes:

  1. Augmented reality display—a “display that could superimporse images onto a person’s field of view, while allowing her to see the real world...soldiers could use the technology to see information about their environment, collected from sensors. Or civilians could use the electronic lens as a cell-phone display, to see who is calling and to watch videos during a commute.”
  2. Noninvasive medical monitor—“use the lens as a sensor that could monitor chemical levels in the body and notify the user if they indicate signs of disease...many indicators of health can be monitored from the surface of the eye. The live cells on the eye are in direct contact with blood serum, which contains biomarkers for disease."

How is the bionic eye made?

It “incorporates metal circuitry and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) into a polymer-based lens...a functional circuit that is biologically compatible with the eye.”

What are some of the challenges in making the bionic eye work in the real world?
  1. Heat—The bionic eye is a functioning circuit and could generate heat that could adversely affect the eye.
  2. Power—How will the contact lens be powered while worn?
  3. Size—To create a visible display, the LEDs will have to shrink in size and in the process not break in the lens-shaping process

From a User-centric EA perspective, bionics is one of those incredible fields where end-users really benefit in everyday functions, in life-altering ways. Bionics opens up possibilities for people with disabilities (due to illness or accident) that are nothing short of miraculous. Imagine people being able to walk, look, hear, and so on not only on par with healthy individuals, but maybe even with an edge. Of course, this could open up all sorts of ethical dilemmas. If we think Olympians taking steroids is an issue, we haven’t seen nothing yet. Bionics is a field that is only just beginning, but it will have enormous implications for process improvement and reengineering based on new incredible capabilities of those that have these implants. Bionics is an example par excellence of technology enabling process (in this case, the very elements of mechanical human processes).


February 26, 2008

Pepsi and Enterprise Architecture

Pepsi knows and practices User-centric Enterprise Architecture. They plan, develop, and manage their business to meet end-user needs, and the CEO, India-born Indra Nooyi is the mastermind behind their approach.

In Fortune Magazine, 3 March 2008, the article “The Pepsi Challenge” describes how Ms. Nooyi has remade Pepsi into a totally user-driven, architecture astute, mega-food company that is firing on all cylinders.

  • Architecting with a global view—“her South Asian heritage gives her a wide-angle view on the world…Pepsi’s international business grew 22% last year, triple the rate of domestic sales, and now contributes 40% of total revenue ($39 billion last year).
  • Architecting wise acquisitions and divestitures—in 1997, seeing that “the fast-food market was saturated and the real estate a hard investment to maximize,” she spun off Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC. In 1998, she championed the acquisition of Tropicana, the largest branded-juice producer, and the 2001 acquisition of Quaker Oats, maker of Gatorade.
  • Architecting the corporate culture—Ms. Nooyi is an expert in the art of persuasion and rallying the troops to her cause. “She can rouse an audience and rally them around something as mind-numbing as a new companywide software installation.” “She has created the motto—‘Performance With Purpose’” as a means of ‘herding the organization’ towards her vision.
  • Architecting through good people and demanding performance excellence—Ms. Nooyi relies on the expertise of her staff and has “broadened the power structure by doubling her executive team to 29.” Moreover, “she expects everyone around her to measure up.”
  • Architecting a healthy diet, green environment, and care for her people—“she…puts a positive spin on how she wants PepsiCo to do business…balancing the profit motive with making healthier snacks, striving for a net-zero impact on the environment, and taking care of your workforce.” For example, Pepsi got into healthy foods (such as bottled water, sports drinks, and teas) earlier than Coke and now “commands half the U.S. market share—about twice Coke’s share, according to Beverage Digest. Ms. Nooyi’s plan is continue shifting to healthy snacks (currently at 30% to 50% of the product portfolio).

What I find inspiring about Ms. Nooyi is that she is not only a strategic, big picture minded leader, but that she performs with the eloquence of a master architect that knows her users and their needs, strives to fulfill them, and doing so with an apparent conscience that dictates ethical behavior toward her people, the environment, and the health of her customers.

That is an amazing EA legacy!


Microsoft Reveals Secrets and Enterprise Architecture

This week Microsoft said they had a big announcement, and that it wasn’t about Yahoo! It turns out that Microsoft decided to reveal some of their technical documents for Microsoft Vista, Office, and other applications.

Why would a company like Microsoft reveal their technical secrets to partners and rivals alike? How is this decision a good architecture move, especially by the master architect himself, Bill Gates?

We all know that companies strive to achieve strategic competitive advantage and that one major way to do this is by product differentiation. The goal is to develop a unique product offering that customers want and need and then build market share. In some case, this results in a situation like Microsoft’s virtual monopoly status in desktop operating systems and productivity suites.

So why give up the keys to the Microsoft kingdom?

Well they are not giving up the keys, maybe just giving a peek inside. And an article in The Wall Street Journal, 22 February 2008 tells us why Microsoft is doing this:

  1. Internet Revolution—“For 30 years, Microsoft has…tightly held onto the technical details of how its software works… [and] it become one of the most lucrative franchises in business history. But Microsoft traditional products aren’t designed to evolve via add-ons or tweaks of thousands of non-Microsoft programmers. Nor can they be easily mixed or matched with other software and services not controlled by Microsoft or its partners. Now the Internet is making that kind of evolution possible, and transforming the way software is made and distributed.” As Ray Ozzie, chief software architect of Microsoft states: “The world really has changed.”
  2. Do or die—Microsoft’s prior business model was leading it down a path of eventual extinction. “The more people use these applications [free technologies and shareware], the less they need they have for Microsoft’s applications.” Microsoft is hoping to maintain their relevance.
  3. Antitrust ruling—“Last September, an appeals court in Luxembourg ruled against Microsoft in a long-running European case that forced Microsoft to announce a month later that it would drop its appeals and take steps to license information to competitors.”
  4. Interoperability—“Microsoft announced in July 2006 [its “Windows Principles”]…such as a commitment to providing rival developers with access to interfaces that let their products talk with Windows.” The key here is customer requirements for systems interoperability and Microsoft is begrudgingly going along.

Is this fifth such announcement on sharing by Microsoft the charm? I suppose it all hinges on how much marketplace and legal pressure Microsoft is feeling to divulge its secrets.

So it this the right User-centric EA decision?

If Microsoft is listening to their users, then they will comply and share technical details of their products, so that new technology products in the market can develop that add on to Microsoft’s and are fully interoperable. The longer Microsoft fights the customer, the more harm they are doing to their brand.

At the same time, no one can expect Microsoft to do anything that will hurt their own pocketbook, so as long as they can successfully maintain their monopoly, they will. Not that Microsoft is going away, but they are holding onto a fleeting business model. In the information age, Microsoft will have to play ball and show some goodwill to their users.


February 25, 2008

Solid-State Drives and Enterprise Architecture

What is one, if not the biggest fear, with putting data on a computer?

Yes, that the hard drive crashes #@$%&!!

Well a new bred of hard drives will help prevent the hard drive failures (and those Monday morning blues).

The Wall Street Journal, 7 February 2008, reports that “Solid-State Drives [SSDs]…because they lack moving parts, they are faster, draw less power, are harder to damage and are quieter than [mechanical] hard drives.”

“Hard-disk drives, or HDDs, are mechanical devices. They work by recording data on a spinning magnetic platter or platters. By contrast, solid-state drives are made of chips and have no moving parts.”

The new SSDs are “close cousins to the so-called flash memory used in digital cameras, cell phones and smaller-capacity music players. They record data to special memory chips that retain their contents even when the device is turned off.”

SSDs are expected to become more popular as “their capacities increase and their prices drop.”

From the User-centric enterprise architecture perspective the value proposition, cost-benefit, for SSDs is not there yet. But it soon will be and then it will time to help alleviate your user angst of hard drive failures with safer, faster SSDs.


February 24, 2008

Management By Walking Around and Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is about planning and governance; it is a leadership function. But after this comes execution — implementation; a management function. And what better way to organize, coordinate, direct, and make things happen “on the ground” than by using management by walking around (MBWA)?

What is MBWA?

MBWA is about getting managers out of their lofty, ivory tower offices and spending time with “the troops.” In MBWA, managers literally make their way around to their staff and spend time talking with them, learning, guiding, building relationships, and motivating. MBWA is about being in regular touch with your people; having straight-talking and trusting dialogue. These are impromptu conversations and informal “coffee talks,” rather than planned, scheduled, agenda-driven meetings. It is a way to understand what employees are facing and experiencing and as the same time to build purpose, team, and keep things “on track”.

Where did MBWA come from?

“As HP grows [in the 1940s], Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard create a management style that forms the basis of HP's famously open corporate culture and influences how scores of later technology companies will do business. Dave practices a management technique — eventually dubbed "management by walking around" — which is marked by personal involvement, good listening skills and the recognition that ‘everyone in an organization wants to do a good job.’” (http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/timeline/hist_40s.html)

Later in the 1980s, Tom Peters promoted MBWA as a way for organizations to “find greater success interacting with employees and customers than by remaining in isolation from them. Rather than micromanaging employees, MBWA allowed management to informally communicate with employees and to coordinate at a more personal level.”

(BI Review Magazine, 3 December 2007)

How is MBWA most effective?

According to futurecents.com, here are some guidelines for effective MBWA:

  • Do it to everyone
  • Do it as often as you can
  • Go by yourself (one on one)
  • Ask questions
  • Watch and listen
  • Share your vision
  • Try out their work
  • Bring good news (successes, positive initiatives, share optimism)
  • Thank people
  • Don’t be critical

With MBWA helping managers and staff to connect, communicate, and carry out, enterprise architecture plans and governance have a much better opportunity to succeed in the day-to-day lives of the users being asked to execute.


February 22, 2008

“Instant Boot-Up” and Enterprise Architecture

Who doesn’t get a little frustrated at the length of time for booting up a computer?

MIT Technology Review, 16 January 2008, states “many office workers have the same morning routine; turn on the computer, then grab coffee catch up with coworkers, or look at paperwork while Windows boots up. Others save time, but waste energy, by keeping their machines on all the time.” –So which category are you in?

This is an Enterprise Architecture issue. If it takes a computer a long time to boot, there is a human impact and a business-productivity impact to the organization. Form the human perspective, people do not like to wait around or be aimless or idle. We’re an inpatient society and one that is addicted to immediate gratification. Being forced to wait for a computer that is supposed to be expediting and simplifying your life and work is not only counter-intuitive, but annoying and frustrating to people who want to be productive human beings, and excel personally and professionally. Sitting staring at an empty screen, looking for something to occupy your time, or just twiddling your thumbs is not a user-centric EA way to meet users’ needs. From a productivity perspective, lost time is lost money. Enough said on that.

I googled online and found oodles (actually almost 13 million) articles and blogs addressing the issue of boot time.

One blog wrote “Most of us have had a brand new computer at one time. It's a great feeling. You boot up windows and within 30 seconds you are surfing the net, checking your email, or playing your favorite game. 10 months down the road things aren't so nice anymore. You power up your computer and it seems to take forever to load.” Doesn’t sound like a happy Windows user to me. (http://www.intelliadmin.com/blog/2006/09/why-windows-takes-so-long-to-start-up.html)

MIT Technology review reports that some vendors are taking up the cause and are developing products that “circumvents the everlasting boot-up.”

One such technology is called Splashtop by Device VM; “a person using the software—which is is based on open-source operating system Linux—can start surfing the web or watching a DVD These days that would be boot up nirvana, I believe. in less then 20 seconds, and in some case, in less than five.”

“Splashtop is embedded in the BIOS so it starts before the operating system is up and running. The user sees a screen with a simple interface offering a handful of options, including launching Firefox Web browser, a media player, Skype [telephony], or an instant messaging program, or allowing Windows to boot.”

The director of Intel’s business-client architecture group states “it’s a positive development in that it’s making the PC easier to use in certain circumstances.”

Maybe the issue with computer boot time is two-fold. First is that the darn thing actually does takes too long to start up. Imagine if your toaster, light bulb, television, or automobile took as long. We’d be going around like mimes, starting and stopping our activities in jerking motions, constantly waiting for something to activate. Secondly, there’s an expectation aspect to this. Powerful computers can perform trillions of transactions per second, yet they can’t even get to a functional screen without us having to slumber around waiting. It’s an inconsistency and a dashed consumer expectation every time you turn on the computer. It doesn’t make sense and its time to make the automation meet reasonable consumer expectations.


Business Process Management and Enterprise Architecture

Modeling business processes, information flows, and the systems that serve up that information is core to developing enterprise architecture

DM Review Magazine, February 2008 reports that Business Process Management (BPM) changes the game for business performance through process innovation, creating a process-managed enterprise that is able to respond to changing market, customer, and regulatory demands faster than its competitors.”

How does BPM enable enterprise efficiency?

“It acts as the glue that ties together and optimizes existing attempts at employee collaboration, workflow, and integration. It drives efforts in quality improvement, cost reductions, efficiencies, and bottom-line revenue growth.”

BPM drives “the ability to design, manage, and optimize critical business processes.”

Essentially the decomposition of functions into processes, tasks, and activities along with linkages to the information required to perform those and the systems that provide the information enable the enterprise architect to identify gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities for business process improvement, reengineering, and the introduction of new technologies.

Business, data, and systems models are an important tool for architects to integrate and streamline operations.

How effective is BPM?

The Aberdeen Group reports “more than 50% of companies surveyed were expected to turn to BPM in 2007 to get the process right at the line-of-business level without having to throw out their expensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) or custom back-end applications investments.”

Similarly, Gartner reports that “organizations deploying BPM initiatives have seen more than 90 percent success rates on those projects.”

What are some critical success factors in BPM?

  1. Usability—“intuitive and flexible user interfaces.”
  2. Process analysis—“knowledge management, analytics, reporting, and integration functionality.”
  3. Collaborative—“portals, attached discussion threads, document management capabilities, and configurable task views.”
  4. Self-optimization—“ability to ‘self-optimize’ the process.”
  5. Focus on high-value areas first—“initial BPM project should include areas of medium-to-high business value combined with low process complexity…choose processes or business areas that have high visibility.”

From a User-centric EA perspective, modeling business, data, and systems is a key element at the segment and solutions architectures. These models enable the development of business requirements, information flows, and technology needs that help determine the ultimate solution design and line of business projects. These in turn feed the enterprise architecture target architecture and transition plan. So the food chain often starts with core modeling initiatives.


February 21, 2008

Where’s the Satisfaction in Enterprise Architecture?

Throughout history, people have labored and seen the fruits of their labor. Whether as hunter/gathers, farmers, or working on the assembly lines, with hard work, people have been able to see tangible progress and in a sense, savor the results of their work.

Today however, in an information society, we are too a great extent divorced from truly delivering products or services to the end-user.

The Wall Street Journal, 20 February 2008, reports “A Modern Conundrum: When Work’s Invisible, so are its Satisfactions.”

“In the information age, so much is worked on in a day at the office, but so little gets done. In the past people could see the fruits of their labor immediately: a chair made or a ball bearing produced. But it is hard to find gratification from work that is largely invisible…not only is work harder to measure, but it’s also harder to define success…The work is intangible, and a lot of work gets done in teams, so it’s difficult to pinpoint individual productivity.”

Homa Bahrami, a senior lecturer in Organizational Behavior and Industrial Relations at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business states: “Information-age employees measure their accomplishments in net worth, company reputation, networks of relationships, and the products and services they’re associated with—elements that are more perceived and subjective than that field of corn, which either is or isn’t plowed.”

As enterprise architects, we are in the business of providing information to enable better organizational decision-making. And unlike producing widgets or harvesting the season’s crops, architectural performance may seem hard to measure and their activities unsatisfying.

However, developing enterprise architecture based on a user-centric approach is actually very meaningful and satisfying. In User-centric EA, we develop only information products and governance services that have clear users and uses, and which benefits the organization in terms of enabling sound IT investments, reengineering business processes, and addressing gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities.

EA is a strategic, big picture view of the organization. It is a planning function and with the commitment of leadership can have an enormous influence on the future direction of the organization. This is a big responsibility for enterprise architects and is very satisfying work especially when cost savings are realized, processes improved, information needs met, business outcomes enabled with technology, security assured, and strategic objectives met.

So just because we’re working in information, it doesn’t mean that EA is invisible. It touches the lives of stakeholders across the business and technical domains of the enterprise.


February 20, 2008

Difficult IT Users and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric Enterprise Architecture focuses on serving the business and IT end-user with useful and usable information products and governance services. But what do architects need to know about the types of users they face out there?

ComputerWorld, 4 February 2008, reports on “The 5 Users from Hell: Difficult IT customers can drive you crazy.”

Here are the 5 types of users:

  1. The Know-It-All—he knows a little HTML, and he defragged his hard drive once, so now he thinks he knows more than you. He often refuses to follow policies and instructions and has been known to poke his head into the server room ‘just to see what you’re up to to.’
  2. The Know-Nothing—this is the clueless user who looks in vain for the ‘Any’ key when his computer prompts him to ‘hit any key’…requires hand-holding for even the simplest tasks. He demands attention and may need multiple visits. Also, he’s frequently unable to articulate problems.
  3. Mr. Entitlement—often heard uttering the phrase, ‘Do you know who I am?’…He may be the CEO…or he may be a peon…who thinks he’s entitled simply because you’re in customer service.
  4. The Finger-Pointer—he never thinks (or at least, never admits) that he’s in any way to blame for any of his problems—you are.”
  5. The TwentySomething Whiz Kid—“this person has dozens of freeware applications on his computer, along with three IM clients and a passel of unauthorized open-source software, and he knows how to use a proxy web site to bypass the company firewall.”

And the 6 type of user is The Angel—“They take the knowledge you give them to solve one problem and are able to apply it to another problem…My dream user is someone who actually listens to what I have to say.”

Obviously serving any sort of customer is never easy. It means that we have to provide products and services to customers, who may be annoying, rude, arrogant, and less than grateful. They may actually be a “bear” to handle, but it’s our job to deal with them gracefully and provide them top notch service. And so we shall, heads held up high.

February 19, 2008

Presentation Style and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric Enterprise Architecture employs principles of communications and design, such as maximizing information visualization in making information products useful and usable to the end-user.

In ComputerWorld , 24 September 2007, Michael Hugos, a principal at the Center for Systems Innovation, presents “Five Diagrams Beat A Victorian Novel.”

The article states: “Consider two methods of collecting and presenting computer system specification [or apply this to presenting enterprise architecture] to users. One is far more likely to result in disastrous development projects plagued by miscommunication and users who are unhappy with the systems that are developed to them.” This disastrous method for presenting IT, Mr Hugos calls the ‘Victorian Novel’ is based on “text specifications for systems development [and] it simply mire readers in a swamp of boring words.”

This method uses Unified Modeling Language (UML)…”they rely on use cases that seem very rigorous yet manage to reduce everything-from trivial details to important processing logic—into a monotonous blur of text that few people can read for more than a minute or two. The only diversions from this text are some abstract charts. UML documents seem to purposely designed to confuse and disengage the typical business user.”

I do believe Mr. Hugos could be equally describing traditional EA “artifacts” that mire the users in eye sore diagrams that cover entire walls or fill boxes and are they typical architecture shelfware that defies general readability, usability, and do not meet end-user requirements for information that adds value!

Mr. Hugos goes on to describe his method for presenting IT information, which aligns beautifully with the User-centric EA approach.

He states as follows: “Instead, I use a method based on the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. I use schematics and diagrams that give both business users and developers an easy way to understand the system under development [applies as well to EA].

Here are the five diagrams proposed:

  1. Process flow diagram—excellent, get the processes ironed out before automating, and enable business process improvement and reengineering.
  2. Logical data model—yes, capture the data requirements as the driver for the system solutions to serve up the information.
  3. Screen Map—right on, provide the end-user a storyboard of screens that show how they will interact with the system; that is User-centric.
  4. Systems architecture diagrams—nice, what is the technical infrastructure that underlies the system.
  5. Software object model—not one that I am familiar with, but sounds like it supports systems interoperability. It “defines the processing logic for the custom code and the data interfaces between custom software objects and packaged software.”

The five diagrams that Mr. Hugos proposes “enable effective communication between business and technical people so the system that gets delivered meets user expectations”.

It is truly wonderful to hear about architecture diagrams that are not typical shelf-ware, that help meet user requirements, that add value, and that are based on sound principles of communication. All too often these areas of architecture development are overlooked and at great expense to the enterprise and the end-user!


February 18, 2008

Leadership, Change, and Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is about planning, managing, and measuring change in an organization. To effect change requires true leadership, and this requires multiple skills.

In the book, The Leadership Triad by Dale Zand, three essential forces of leadership are presented—knowledge, trust, and power. These leadership forces guide constructive organizational change.

“Like three horses pulling a chariot, these forces, if coordinated and working together, provide a swift and exhilarating ride. But if one force is mismanaged or pulls against the others, the ride is bumpy and can end in disaster.”

Effective leaders integrate the three forces of knowledge, trust, and power to drive effective change and maintain efficient operations in their organizations: “They know what should be done, they have the trust of their people, and they use power appropriately:

  1. Knowledge—“leaders know or can find out what should be done…they have vision and they know how to fulfill that vision. They set clear, challenging goals, and they know what needs to be done to reach the goals…they know how to gain access to the knowledge of others, and they know how to work with people to convert that knowledge into action.”
  2. Trust—“people trust effective...leaders, giving them loyalty and commitment… [They] earn trust by disclosing relevant information, sharing influence, and competently using knowledge. They earn trust by fairness in their dealings with others—fulfilling the spirit of their agreements, sharing rewards and hard times and not abusing their power.”
  3. Power—“leaders use their power appropriately. They know how to be directive or to delegate. They know how to review and evaluate constructively. They know how to be consultants, providing guidance rather than issuing commands.”

Why not just lead in a command and control fashion like in the military or law enforcement organization?

“The heroic fantasy of one person at the head of a column and followers shouting ‘charge’ as they mount the battlements is outdated. Instead leaders need to learn to use the sensing, searching, and thinking ability of all people within the organization.”

How are these leadership skills similar to those necessary for implementing enterprise architecture?

Knowledge, trust, and power are the cornerstones of an enterprise architecture program.

1. EA makes information transparent and provides information products to distribute knowledge and enable better decision-making. EA information is critical to decision-making, particularly in terms of ensuring sound IT investment management decisions, IT planning, analysis of problem areas—uncovering gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities--driving business process improvement, reengineering, and the introduction of new technologies to the organization.

“In the twentieth century society crossed…into the information age, marked by the emergence of the knowledge organization.”

“Competitive advantage in the information age is in constant jeopardy—knowledge is fluid, and creative thinkers leapfrog over existing knowledge.”

“Knowledge travels with the speed of thought, but can be blocked by the smallest emotional barrier. It can enlighten the entire organization’s operation, yet it can easily be concealed if people do not want leaders to see it. People throughout organizations continually acquire and create important, critical knowledge about customers, [suppliers], products, technology, costs, and competitors. But that knowledge can remain hidden and inaccessible to leaders. In the new world leaders need to liberate knowledge and creative thinking at all levels and in all corners of the organization. To compete, leaders need to move knowledge from where it is to where it can be used to define and achieve appropriate goals.”

EA helps to synthesize information and liberate knowledge to meet strategic goals.

2. EA is based on the trust of business and technical leaders and staff across the enterprise. EA synthesizes business and technology information. It relies on the trust of divisions, departments, and subject matter experts (SMEs) throughout the organization to share (and not hoard) information and build a results-driven, process-oriented, interoperable, standardized, cost-effective organization, rather than a siloed, ineffective one. In an EA-directed organization, siloed functions and management relinquish their own personal interests and perhaps, selfish motives and instead plan for the good of the overall organization. For example, decisions on IT investments are made based on enterprise priorities and cost-benefit-risk-architecture considerations, rather than who has the money to spend.

“Trust regulates the disclosure of information—how open people are with relevant information…trust regulates mutual influence—how receptive people are to each other’s goals and concerns, and trust regulates control—the intention to fulfill the spirit of a decision and willingness to rely on another person to implement her part of the decision.”

“Mistrust causes people to censor, delay, and distort relevant information. Social uncertainty compounds ambiguity, masks difficulties and deprives leaders of the opportunity to make high-quality decisions

3. The EA Board (chaired by the chief enterprise architect) ensures that proposed new IT projects, products, and standards align to and comply with the enterprise architecture. EA must have the power to mandate and enforce alignment and compliance or else the target architecture and transition plan is just a sham that will not yield enterprise results and achieve stated goals. Additionally, EA must have the ability to require SMEs to contribute regularly to the development, maintenance, and use of the EA. The business and technical SMEs are the owners of the EA content and must be partners with the EA team in ensuring that the architecture is kept current, accurate, and complete.

“Power is the ability to influence others so that they do or do not do something.”

“Leaders have legitimate power to determine the process by which decisions will be made.”

Knowledge, trust, and power are three dimensions of leadership that are the foundation for an effective EA program. EA ensures that the information needs of the organization are met in terms of business and technical baseline and target architectures and transition plans. EA relies on the trust of its organizational partners in the business and technical domains to share information and adhere to architectural decision and standards that are in the best interests of the overall organization, rather than any one individual, group, or function. And finally, EA requires the power to ensure alignment to and compliance with the architecture and the decisions of the architecture board or else EA is just a paper tiger and will fail.


February 17, 2008

DoD Enterprise Architecture

In a world where information superiority can mean battlefield victory, enterprise architecture is critical to military transformation and execution.

Military Information Technology, 11 February 2008, reports “Enterprise Architecture: Key to Netcentricity.”


Why is EA important in general:

“An actionable EA provides organizational leaders information sufficient to make enterprise plans, investment resource and management decisions, and to optimize key operational and support processes.”

Why is EA important to The Department of Defense?

The warfighter relies on information superiority to sense a threat, decide on a course of action, and execute faster than the enemy. This is not much different than survival in America’s Wild West years ago, by those who had the fastest [gun] draw.

Today, “The OODA [observe, orient, decide, act] loop is a 'sense and respond' cycle driven by actionable data and information for superior information management, battlespace awareness, and operational decision-making...when organizational components use rich and timely information, dramatically improved battlespace operations effectiveness can be realized…the single unifying approach that delivers the needed information and insight is enterprise architecture."

What is netcentricity?

Netcentricity or “network-centric operations (NCO) enables military forces to anticipate and adapt rapidly to changes in the environment such as enemy warfare tactics. NCO touches all aspects of department operations and, by integrating organizational networks and information, enables enhanced warfare operations effectiveness. NCO is enabled through dramatic changes in mindsets, processes, IT and access to information and networks.”

“An actionable EA is critical to the DoD realizing netcentric capabilities.”

Unfortunately DoD is struggling to implement actionable EA. The General Accountability Office (GAO)…in 2006 found that the EA programs of the departments of the Air Force, Navy, and Army were among the four most immature EA programs within the government.

What does DoD need to advance their EA?

GAO found that “strong executive leadership could resolve all the challenges organizations experienced in developing and using actionable EA capabilities.”

Transformational leaders in DoD will provide the “vision, integrity, communication, inspiration, and empowerment.” And they “empower organizational members with human, material, and financial resources to accomplish the vision.”

EA cannot be achieved without management commitment and adequate resources!

What about the DoD leaders who say that EA cannot be implemented “because the organization is too complex”?

This thinking is sort of ironic, because EA is what captures information, analyzes and catalogues it, and serves it up to the end-users to enable better decision-making. EA is what simplifies information and makes it transparent enabling strategic transformation and the realization of netcentric capabilities.

EA is exactly what DoD needs for evaluating itself, planning its future state, and transitioning itself to achieve its goals of battlespace superiority through information superiority.

"Implementing an actionable EA capability can take up to five years and requires...[DoD leaders need to] focus on long-term performance improvements," through enterprise architecture implementation.


Green IT and Enterprise Architecture

Green computing is the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently [from an environmental and energy perspective]. Typically, technological systems or computing products that incorporate green computing principles take into account the so-called triple bottom line of economic viability, social responsibility, and environmental impact. This differs somewhat from traditional or standard business practices that focus mainly on the economic viability of a computing solution. These focuses are similar to those of green chemistry; reduction of the use of hazardous materials such as lead at the manufacturing stage, maximized energy efficiency during the product's term of use, and recyclability or biodegradability of both a defunct product and of any factory waste. A typical green computing solution attempts to address some or all of these factors by implementing environmentally friendly products in an efficient system. (Wikipedia)

ComputerWorld, 4 February 2008, reports on “Tips for a Leaner, Greener Desktop: Energy efficiency isn’t just for the data center.”

“Although data centers may use more power per square foot, as a percentage of total power consumption, office equipment is the big kahuna...if you look at overall power consumption, you’re seeing almost double for computers and monitors than for data centers.”

“There were an estimated 900 million desktops in use worldwide in 2006…if all of that equipment met the 2007 Energy Star [a voluntary labeling program] 4.0 specification , power consumption would be 27% lower than it would be under 2006 guidelines.”

Here are a number of ways to architect green:

  • Power management software—software like NightWatchman or LANDesk puts desktop computers and monitors “into power saving mode after a period of inactivity, overriding any personal setting….another product SMSWakeUp can ‘wake up’ those machines to deliver patches and updates after-hours and then shut them down again when the process is complete.”
  • LCD monitors—“dump those CRTS replacing older computers and peripherals with Energy Star-rated equipment can save energy and space, and the decreased power consumption can significantly reduce the need for cooling in office areas. Start with CRT displays. ‘The biggest offenders are the monitors.’”
  • Thin clients—“managed thin clients use 30% less energy than nonmanaged PCs...thin clients use less power and space, since they have no disk drives or fans, and the Windows session and applications run on the server.”
  • Printing effectively—“Hewlett Packard Co, claims that the energy efficiency of its printers improve 7% to 15% with each new generation. Therefore, replacing older units with new, Energy Star-labeled models can cut costs by as much as 25%...printers are also getting smarter about when to go into low-power mode.” Another method to save energy and paper is to configure printers for duplex mode.

Green IT is good for enterprises and good for the planet. Enterprise architects can help make a difference with green IT solutions for their organizations.


February 15, 2008

“Fair Trade or Free Trade” and Enterprise Architecture

What is the way ahead for free trade—further globalization and lost jobs for U.S. workers or isolationism and protectionism?

Fortune Magazine, 4 February 2008 reports that “economic anxiety has inspired a backlash against free trade…in the great game of global trade, Americans are increasingly feeling like the losers.”

How did we get to this advanced state of global trade?

Americans led the works in building a roadmap for global commerce during the 1990’s” with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “linking the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to create the world’s largest trade bloc.”

Why are Americans reeling from free trade?

68% of those surveyed say America’s trading partners are benefiting the most from free trade, not the U.S. The sense of victimhood is changing America’s attitude about doing business with the world. We are a nation crawling into a fetal position, cramped by fear. That America has lost control of its destiny in a fiercely competitive global economy. The fear is mostly about jobs lost overseas and wages capped by foreign competition. But it is also fueled by lead-painted toys from China and border-hopping workers from Mexico, by the housing and credit crisis at home, and by the residue of vulnerability left by 9/11 and the wars that followed.”

We are turning inward. Especially now, as the U.S. economy sputters…median household income in 2006, at $48,201 was barely ahead of where it was eight years earlier. So the prospect of a recession has made the anxious middle class even more so.”

“Most analysts agree that the underlying reason for public anxiety over globalization is the visibility of factory closings and the stagnation of income.

What is the result of the backlash against free trade?

“Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay higher prices to keep down foreign competition.”

With the upcoming presidential election, “the Democratic mantra is now, ‘fair trade, not free trade.’”

“Most Democratic leaders insist they don’t want to, nor believe they can, halt the global flow of commerce. Where they hope to connect with voters is by promising to strengthen the safety net.” This includes special training programs, tax incentives for companies to relocate to where workers have lost jobs, and expanding unemployment benefits.

I agree that we cannot retrench into isolationism, although a little protectionism sounds about right and fair. We need to architect our nation’s role in global trade, so that we are not running huge trade deficits, losing valuable jobs to overseas workers, and buying shoddy products from overseas.

Enterprise architecture is about identifying the baseline and setting a target and transition plan. Well the current baseline, as outlined, is ruinous for the U.S. economy. The target is clearly a more strategic trade policy that protects our vital economic industries, interests, and workers. And the transition plan is to establish the laws and policies to change our wayward direction and quickly.

Finally, businesses must look beyond the quarterly financial statements and daily stock prices of their companies and instead establish longer-term targets that focus on retaining strategic assets and know-how at home here in the U.S., rather than trade it away for a quick buck on the quarterly income statement.


Bathroom Etiquette and Enterprise Architecture

Every facet of our lives can be enhanced with automation and technology.

The Wall Street Journal, 15 February 2008 reports “Restroom D├ęcor: Germy Doorknobs Inspire Inventors.”

Many people are wary of germs and their disease spewing effects, and no place more so than in public bathrooms (germs “can survive on surfaces for hours or days”).

“A few years ago, after using a filthy gas-station bathroom strewn with soggy toilet paper, Mathew Fulkerson dried his hands under a wall-mounted blower. Then he realized he was trapped: How to leave without touching the door handle?”

The user requirement is clear here; the technology solutions creative (although some are simply using the “pinky pull”, foot pull, or grasping the handle with a paper towel or toilet paper):

  • L-shaped handles—the SantiGrasp “can be pulled with the forearm or wrist” for $124.
  • Sensors—the Sanidoor opens with the wave of a hand at a cost of $1000 installed.
  • Sprays—the HYSO (hygienic Solutions) is a “canister installed above the door handle that sprays it with disinfectant every few minutes…the solution dries instantly.”
  • Ultraviolet lights—“Sanihandles, a door connected to a pair of ultraviolet lamps that kills germs.”
  • Doors that open out—these can be pushed with the shoulder or butt; “last year Massachusetts state Rep. James Vallee introduced a bill on behalf of a constituent that would require all public-bathroom doors to open outward.”

Is there really a need for these elaborate bathroom solutions?

“In an August 2007 study, study sponsored by the Soap and Detergent Association and the American Society for Microbiology, 34% of males observed in public bathrooms across the country didn’t wash their hands; 12% of females didn’t wash up.”

Are hygienic EA solutions user-centric?

They sure are. “Hygiene is a big seller. There are now antimicrobial bedsheets and bacteria-killing carpets. Last year, American Standard introduced a toilet with an antimicrobial coating that suppose to last indefinitely. At Busch’s a supermarket chain in Michigan [and at many others like Trader Joe's], stores have disinfecting wipes near the shopping carts that people push around.”

William Schaffner, vice president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says that “It’s good to be clean, but one can become obsessive” He says that he doesn’t avoid touching doorknobs, but I for one don't believe him.


February 14, 2008

Craigslist and Enterprise Architecture

Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free classified advertisements (with jobs, internships, housing, personals, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories) and forums on various topics.”

Here’s some basic stats on Craigslist:
  • Founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark for the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Incorporated as a private for-profit company in 1999.
  • Operates in approximately 450 cities in 50 countries.
  • Operates with a staff of 24 people.
  • Estimated annual revenue as high as $150 million in 2007.
  • Sole source of revenue is paid job ads in [11] select cities [and apartment listing in NYC].
  • Over nine billion page views per month, putting it in 56th place overall among web sites worldwide, ninth place overall among web sites in the United States, to over thirty million unique visitors.
  • Over thirty million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over two million new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. (Adapted from Wikipedia)
Craig has taken basic website technology and revolutionized the business of classified advertising, and for the most part making it free of charge!

Why is Craigslist such a success?

I believe it is because of Craig Newmark’s almost complete adherence to user-centric enterprise architecture principles.

Here are some examples of this:
  • User Focus-- “In December 2006…Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead preferring to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.” (Wikipedia)
  • Customer-driven—“People suggest stuff to us, we do what makes sense, and then we ask for more feedback,” says Craig Newmark.
  • Customer-service—Craig Newmark’s official title is founder and customer service representative. When asked where Craig sees Craiglist in five years, he states: We always need to improve customer service. For example, we need better tools to detect and remove spam listings.”
  • Rejected annoying banner ads—“At the end of 1997, [we] hit a million page views a month. Then the folks at Microsoft Sidewalk wanted to run banner ads on the side, and at market rates, that would be all the money I needed to live. [But] I figured…I don’t need the money, and many banner ads are pretty dumb.”
  • Technology-enabled—“We’re just starting. We have to improve technologies, like multicity search.”
  • Culture of service—“We think we have a really good culture of trust and that’s because…we have stood by some core shared values. The fundamental value is that we feel you should treat people like you want to be treated.”

The only non-user-centric EA aspect of Craigslist is the quirky look and feel of the site, which is white, mostly text-based. As Craig acknowledged, “someone said our site has the visual appeal of a pipe wrench.”

(Adapted from ComputerWorld Magazine, 4 February 2008)

If Craigslist would take the leap and make the site more visually appealing, I believe we have a User-centric EA winner!


Small Is In and Enterprise Architecture

Remember the saying, “good things come in small packages?” In enterprise architecture big is out and small is in. This applies not only to the obvious consumer electronics market, where PDAs, phones, chips, and everything electronic seems to be getting smaller and sleeker, but also to the broader computing market (such as the transition from mainframe to distributed computing) and even to the storage device market.

The Wall Street Journal, 10 January 2008, reports that Mr. Moshe Yanai “was responsible for one of IBM’s defeats in the 1990’s, “when he designed the computer storage disks for EMC Corp. that displaced IBM’s in the data centers around the globe.”

How did Mr. Yanai do this?

He did this by going small. “One point of the architecture is simplicity of management of data…with his architecture, you just add more pieces.”

In creating Symmetrix disk drives, Mr. Yanai developed storage drives that were “cheaper, faster, and more reliable than IBM drives…he pioneered a technology called RIAD-short for redundant arrays of inexpensive disks—that linked dozens of the kinds if disk drives used in PCs together to cheaply provide the same storage capacity as refrigerator-sized drives from IBM. Raid technology has since become a standard throughout the storage industry.”

The small disk drives of EMC beat out the big drives from IBM, jus like the PCs (of Dell and HP) beat out the mid-range and mainframes computers of IBM.

Mr. Yanai, a one time Israeli tank commander, is a User-centric enterprise architect. He recognized the needs of his users for smaller, cheaper, and faster devices and he delivered on this. Moreover, Mr. Yanai put the customer first not only in terms of product design and development, but also in terms of customer service. “Mr. Yanai was known as an expert engineer who also could talk to customers and solve their problems. Mr. Yanai put telephones in each storage device and programmed them to ‘phone home’ when it sensed a part was in danger of failing.”

While Mr. Yanai was removed from his top engineering role at EMC, his company XIV corp. has been bought out by IBM and “locked up” his services. IBM may be a little slow (due to its size—a lumbering giant), but they are not poor or stupid and they can buy the competition. Anyone remember Lotus Corp?

From a User-centric EA perspective, the small and agile often wins out over the large and stodgy. It is a lesson thousands of years old, like the biblical tale of David vs. Goliath, when little David defeats the monstrous Goliath. Small is nimble and big is cumbersome. This is the same thing the U.S. military has found out and is converting to smaller, more agile, and mobile forces. EA needs to do the same in focusing on smaller, faster, cheaper computing devices and on simpler, more streamlined processes. Small is truly bigger than big!


February 13, 2008

Fashion, Technology and Enterprise Architecture

I was a little surprised to read a blog in MIT Technology Review online from 31 January 2008 about “the melding of technology and fashion.”

What was surprising to me was not the concept that technology could be used to enhance fashion, because certainly we would expect that technology would enable faster, better, and cheaper processes for manufacturing garments, and perhaps even aid the development of garments from new high-tech materials that can protect from sunlight, remove sweat and odor, or wear better, last longer, and protect the wearer from any and all hazards (fire retardant, bullet proof, maybe even crash resistant).

However, this particular blog was not about any of those things. Rather, the blog was about “wearable technologies” demonstrated at the Seamless: Computational Coulture fashion show.

What types of fashion technologies are we talking about?

  1. Shape-changing dresses
  2. Music-playing sweaters
  3. Jackets that display text messages with light emitting diodes
  4. Glow in the dark clothes made from organic solar cells
  5. Skirts that use kinetic energy to power gadgets
  6. Rings that “display a wearer’s Google hits”
  7. Shirts that “reflects Wi-Fi strength

The end of the blog states, the fashion show was “entertaining and electrifying.”

The blog acknowledges that “many of these designs will never reach the market.” Yet, even the very concept of many of these wearable technologies seems useless, if not outright silly. And maybe that’s the point, silly gets attention and that is what fashion designers want.

From a User-centric enterprise architecture perspective give me the Star Trek uniform that can be worn in any weather, atmosphere, or on any planet in the solar system and I call that high-tech fashion. Beam me up Scotty.


February 12, 2008

Information Integrity and Enterprise Architecture

We are in an information economy and now more than ever business needs information to conduct their functions, processes, activities, and tasks.

To effectively conduct our business, the information needs to be relevant and reliable. The information should be current, accurate, complete, understandable, and available.

Information integrity is essential for enabling better decision-making, improving effectiveness, and reducing risk and uncertainty.

However, according to DMReview, 8 February 2008, “information within the [corporate] data warehouse continues to be inaccurate, incomplete, and often inconsistent with its sources. As a result, data warehouses experience low confidence and acceptance by users and consumers of downstream reports.”

“The Data Warehousing Institute estimates that companies lose more than $600 million every year due to bad information.”

What are some of the challenges to information integrity?

  1. Complex environments, [in which organizations] constantly generate, use, store, and exchange information and materials with customers, partners, and suppliers.”
  2. Accelerating change in the business environment [and] changing needs of business users”
  3. “Increasing complexity of source systems and technology
  4. Expanding array of regulations and compliance requirements

“Change and complexity introduce information integrity risk. Accelerating change accelerates information integrity risk. Compliance makes information integrity an imperative rather than an option.”

What are the particular challenges with data warehouses?

  1. Questionable input information—“Several source systems feed a data warehouse. Data may come from internal and external systems, in multiple formats, from multiple platforms.”
  2. Lack of downstream reconciliation—“As information traverses through the source systems to a data warehouse, various intermediate processes such as transformations may degrade the integrity of the data. The problem becomes more acute when the data warehouse feeds other downstream applications.”
  3. Inadequate internal controls—these include controls over data input, processing, and output, as well as policies and procedures for change management, separation of duties, security, and continuity of operations planning.

From an enterprise architecture perspective, information integrity is the linchpin between the businesses information requirements and the technology solutions that serves up the information to the business. If the information is no good, then what good are the technology solutions that provide the information to the business? In other words, garbage in, garbage out (GIGO)!

As enterprise architects, we need to work with the business and IT staffs to ensure that data captured is current, accurate, and complete, that it is entered into the system correctly, processed accurately, and that outputs are distributed on a need to know basis or as required for information sharing purposes, and is protected from unauthorized changes.

Using business, data, and systems models to decompose the processes, the information required for those, and the systems that serve them up helps to identity possible information integrity issues and aids in designing processes that enable quality information throughput.

Additionally, security needs to be architected into the systems from the beginning of their lifecycle and not as an afterthought. Information confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy are essential for an information secure enterprise and for information quality for mission/business performance.