Enterprise Architecture – 10 Soft Skills – Part 3: Enriched Communication

November 9, 2013

People easily get distracted.  A glance at a smartphone to check e-mail, checking the time, looking out through the window . How do we keep them engaged? Through enriched communication.

Simply put, enriched sensory-based communication is speaking with words that represent our senses – what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. The opposite of sensory based communication is neutral communication, which often engages the cold and critical part of one’s mind (however,  there is a time for this type of communication too, which will be discussed in a later post). Sensory based communication engages other people and has been said to give off an aura of charisma. The great communicators speak in enriched language. For example, Obama’s inaugural speech:

“Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.”

The phrases marked out represent sensory-based communication. In just those few sentences, a series of auditory and visual and kinaesthetic/feeling phrases are used that engaged the listener. Do not loose sight of the feeling that these words are for sweet victory speeches as shown in the example above. These phrases can be dropped in during normal day to day conversation. Try it yourself and see the difference!


Big Data – An Infographic Perspective

September 1, 2012

Big Data – An Infographic Perspective.

Big Data – Who will find the patterns of value?

May 8, 2012

Big Data has great promise – no doubt that we are on the brink of discovering innovative ways to make a lot of money due to the ability to consume and analyze a greater volume, velocity, and variety of data than ever before.

The question, however, is who will make these innovative discoveries?

Can the innovation be made by a kid in a garage, a college kid in his dorm room, or a talented IT professional dreaming of a start-up in his free time?

On the one hand, the answer is NO – the college kid in the dorm will NOT be changing the world via big data the way Mark Zuckerberg did with social networking. Why? The reason quite simply is because “Big Data” requires DATA and a lot of it and in potentially many different forms.

Data is not free

In fact, there are billion dollar businesses that are essentially data companies – they sell raw data (and analytics on it). I’ve even worked at one in my time. OK – Some of that raw data is free but much of the data is not. The sheer volume of data is prohibitively expensive to acquire for a college kid to start to experiment with. Additionally, some big data use cases revolve around social data that sites like Facebook can use to make money (data is why Facebook has such a high valuation). Did you think Facebook gives away their data for free? If the college kid can’t even get his hands on the data then the game is over before it even starts.

On the bright side, however, cloud computing infrastructure as a service and pay-as-you-go pricing provides affordable infrastructure for the college kid. Powerful infrastructure is also a pre-requisite for Big Data – but it’s not a barrier for the college kid.

It goes back – again – to access to data.

The majority of the big data discoveries will come from big established companies with the resources to acquire it.

Agree or disagree? Actually, proving me wrong would make me happy.

Application Portfolio Management: Maximizing Value

March 11, 2012

Application Portfolio Management (APM) is about maximizing the value of the applications running your business.  The goal is to achieve beneficial changes that improve the balance of value to supported cost and risk.

Without an APM practice, the unmanaged portfolio of applications grow stale. This may be in the form of higher operating costs to “keep the lights on” for the application, weak service level and support, or obsolete technology – to name a few. The key here then is to methodically and pragmatically assess all or a subset of the applications top-down in the business in order to devise strategies and define projects and request funds.

We begin the process by assessing key factors of each application in order to categorize each application. Ideally the scope is the entire application inventory but it may be segmented based on current strategic business initiatives with a process, risk, cost, or value perspective. There are various methods to categorize the applications. A popular format is based on the 2X2, 4 quadrant matrix. An example is the “TIME” (Tolerate, Invest, Migrate, Eliminate) method as defined by Gartner.

T – Tolerate applications that provide good enough business value but may have an old architecture or not be well integrated. Without APM, this is probably the largest category.

I – Invest in strategic or newer applications in order to increase value and use.

M – Migrate technologies that have high business value but have issues the with people, data, or technologies that support it. The technology may be unsupported or people may be on the verge of retiring with a declining pool of replacement skills.

E – Eliminate applications that no longer provide sufficient business value.

Once each application has been categorized then define a strategy and high level set of actions, and create a business case and project charter. Also, add these newly defined strategies to the overall future-state enterprise architecture plans and roadmaps.

Over time, the application portfolio balance should shift to a greater percentage of “invest” applications with a lower percentage of tolerate and eliminate applications. This will result in a greater proportion of IT spending to business value and growth based projects  – and that’s the goal.

Top 3 Drivers for an IAM Business Case and 8 Presentation Tips

March 4, 2012

In this post, we will discuss the top 3 Drivers for an Identity and Access Management (IAM) Business Case and 8 Presentation Tips.

Who: As always, consider your audience – who will be most interested and in what driver. At a minimum, include the following teams and see the benefits through their eyes:

1) IT Operations Management 2) Security and Legal teams 3) Business (revenue focused) Managers

What (the drivers/benefits):

1. Efficiency – The ability to do more, faster and with less effort. Examples include automating access removal when someone leaves a company, reduction of helpdesk calls from automation of password resets, SLA improvement, and quicker consolidation of infrastructure.

Primary audience: IT Operations Management

2. Effectiveness – Doing the right things and doing them well. Examples include more accurate reports, savings from reduced regulatory fines from inaccurate reports, better general consistency and automation of reports, better customer and auditor perception.

Primary Audience: Security and Legal Teams

3. Agility – Change faster with less effort. Examples include the reduction of effort to form business partnerships (and thus encouraging more partnerships), reduce the time to integrate a newly acquired company, and improved customer service.

Primary Audience: Business (revenue focused) Managers

Socializing and Presentation Tips

1. Emphasize non-quantifiable benefits over ROI calculations. The reason is because ROI calculations are based on assumptions that can often be easily challenged, derailing the entire business case if successful. Only emphasize ROI if you are comfortable sitting in front of the CFO for 20 minutes going through the detailed assumptions and calculations. It’s a safer bet to stick with non-quantifiable benefits. If you must include an ROI, be sure to include others in the assumptions and calculations.

2. “Road test” the business case presentation in one on one or smaller meetings in order to get feedback and improve your message.

3. In the presentation, spend more of your time on the expected benefits as opposed to the why, how and technical jargon, which often only detracts focus from the main drivers.

4. The overall format should include at a minimum one slide for the following: problem statement, who was involved in the business case analysis and objectives, proposed solution, expected benefits, high level plan/options and costs, and an Appendix (assumptions and calculations).

5. Present in a professional, conversational, and competent manner

6. Know the material well (more than what is just on the slides)

7. Formally present for 20 minutes and then answer questions and have a conversation for another 20 minutes (often the most important piece)

8. Speak with conviction and above all else, honesty.

4 Ways IaaS Cloud Computing Will Reduce Your Costs

February 28, 2012

1. Disaster Recovery – Cloud providers such as Amazon AWS offering “pay as you go” pricing enable reduced cost for disaster recovery. Essentially, one only pays when disaster happens and a recovery is needed. To be more accurate, the 24/7 activity of replication and storage of data from the production environment to the DR environment is the fixed cost. At the same time, however, the application and data servers do not cost a single penny unless a disaster happens, in which case the servers are started up. Even if a disaster lasts for months (e.g. Katrina), this is still considerably less expensive than an in-house data center that must purchase all the hardware upfront for the application and data servers.

2. Batch Computing – Batch applications often follow a predictable “batch window” of high and low processing requirements. For example, nightly batch processes may require 1000 servers of processing to complete it’s processing from 12am-8am before the next business day starts. These 1000 servers must be purchased up front and may not be used (or used very little) during day-time business hours, resulting in a very low CPU utilization rate of 33% (8/24).  With IaaS cloud computing and the ability to scale (or auto-scale) when needed, the CPU utilization rate is theoretically 100% or realistically at least in the 90s. Major savings.

3. Short-term Web Site – For example, a marketing professional may create a dedicated web site for a product. If that web-site is mentioned in a commercial  during the Super Bowl with 100M+ viewers, there a good chance that web site will get hammered, potentially with 100’s or 1000’s or more  unique hits within a few minutes, potentially requiring 100’s or 1000’s of servers. A few days after the Super Bowl, the  marketing web site requires 2 servers for the rest of the year. Again, with a pay as you go and auto-scaling capability, the cost savings in comparison to traditionally purchasing all the equipment up front are through the roof.

4. Test & Dev – Cloud computing is also cost effective for test and development environments that may not need to be running 24/7. Again, pay only for the time the system is running.

IaaS Cloud Computing will not always reduce costs

It’s important to call out that IaaS Cloud computing may not be cost effective for large business steady state workloads for many use cases and may even be more expensive.  I predict, however, this will change due to improved automation capabilities that enable IT Operation teams to perform more efficiently. The technology of automation capabilities are still lacking and not yet mature enough to provide real steady-state savings. Examples of automation capabilities include automated patches, backups, database replication (e.g. Amazon AWS RDS), and the ability to quickly deploy and configure  a complex, integrated environment of web, application,  data and network components components in an automated fashion. Again, the tools exist but are still several years until mainstream adoption in my opinion. Put another way:

Sufficiently mature and integrated automation capabilities will be the tipping point for mainstream enterprise adoption of IaaS Clound Computing. We are still several years away from this reality. Do you agree or disagree? Your thoughts are welcome.

What kind of models does an Enterprise Architecture describe?

June 5, 2011

What is an Enterprise Architecture Model?

Many mistakenly assume that Enterprise Architecture is a “tech thing” only. This could not be further from the truth.

From a modeling perspective, enterprise architecture brings great clarity to a system.

What is a system? According to Google: “A set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular.” Note: No use of the word technology in the definition.

What kind of models does an Enterprise Architecture describe? Again, according to Google (define keyword): “An enterprise architecture (EA) describes the structure of an enterprise, its decomposition into subsystems, the relationships between the subsystems, the relationships with the external environment, the terminology to use, and the guiding principles for the design and evolution of an enterprise …”. Note: No use of the word technology in the definition.

Or to summarize, Enterprise Architecture is the System of the Enterprise

A subset of an enterprise architecture are automated systems. Another subset of an enterprise architecture are NOT automated systems.

Let’s take the US Government as an example. The US government is composed of 3 branches – executive, legislative, and judicial. All 3 branches work together in a SYSTEM to provide life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. An Enterprise Architecture is used to describe the system of the US Government.

Every business, government agency, university etc… has an enterprise architecture. The question is – are they fully conscious of their enterprise architecture? Furthermore, what are the benefits of being fully conscious of an enterprise architecture? What are the benefits of using an Enterprise Architecture? With those questions in mind, stay tuned for my next blog post.

Hint: the value of adding the TIME dimension to our enterprise architecture models to effectively manage change.