When I was searching for input to my first business architecture research report titled “Business Architecture’s Time Has Come” in October of 2008, I had a hard time finding true business architecture practitioners to participate in the study. To be sure, there were lots of EAs thinking about business architecture, but very few really doing business architecture.
Earlier that year I had facilitated a group discussion about the current state of business architecture at an EA conference. There were more than 30 people in the room, and the discussion was lively. Much of the first half hour focused on what business architecture really meant and how it should be applied. There were a wide array of positions and some very impassioned exchanges. To shift the discussion to more practical areas, I asked “Who has an active business architecture practice?” To my surprise not one person in the room raised their hand.
What a difference a year makes. Our 2010 research shows that 40% of organizations now have an established business architecture program. And most of the rest are working toward creating one. For a large majority of EA teams the question has shifted from “When should I start my business architecture effort?” to “How do I get business architecture moving?” Forrester’s 2010 EA Forum had a track dedicated to enterprise business architecture. I presented or facilitated three business architecture sessions that were all heavily attended with lots of active participation. Some of the interesting ideas that surfaced during forum discussions were:
Capability maps are not just for the business. A number of EAs are interested in building capability maps for IT. They see capability maps as a powerful tool to help improve IT’s ability to serve the business. Another perspective was, “If you can’t get the business to engage, start with what you know (IT) and build on it.”
Business architects from the business have a different perspective. It was very encouraging to see a number of non-IT business architects in the business architecture meet-up I facilitated. Their business-focused viewpoints brought a lot of depth to the discussion, though it left me a little uneasy about the future of business architecture in IT. If business architecture really takes off, will it be able to survive as an IT function?
Traditional EAs are challenged to become business architects. As I spelled out the details of how to become a more business-focused enterprise architect, one architect expressed her frustration. “Wait a minute! I came to IT so I could work on technical problems – not business problems.” Her comment clearly articulates what I see as the number one challenge for EAs over this decade. Am I a technologist first and business person second or is it the other way around? I don’t think EAs will be able to keep one foot in each area for long; they will have to make a clear choice. It’s going to be a hard one.