Tag Archives: digital

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Living architecture – EIM made alive!

Category:EA,UK Blog Tags : 

We see an emerging interest to manage the information management and meta-data of large organisations, simply to improve the common understanding of what is what, and who can do what with what information. The value of such an overview will inevitably be that organisations become better to align processes on more structured data earning corporate agility. It also helps the strategy to execution as the long-term planning becomes tighter aligned to the current way of doing stuff. It is easy to scratch a target picture on a white-board and call it “strategy”, but to make it actionable is a different exercise where people need to understand what ties into what, and who should be changing what stuff. To pass that bridge, the architecture information needs to be alive to connect the moving parts of the enterprise also with some of the more static information. This is what we refer to as a living architecture, or simply enterprise information management (EIM).

What is the alternative to this? Imagine you worked within architecture producing piles of documents – documents which are structured in a document container (if we are lucky), poorly connected (meaning they are typically not, each document is an entity of its own) and where the likelihood of people to read it declines for every month it has situated in the document container. If it is really bad, the manager with the longest seniority and largest inbox has the power to retrieve email attachments to share his or her view on the (‘dead’) architecture. It happens a lot of places. Managers leave, projects complete, and with this the architecture silently dies.

So how to make the architecture alive? Think of the contents as information and try to re-use that information across your projects and improvements, then you will start to see a different pattern – a pattern of a ‘living architecture’ where SharePoint, PowerPoints,  email etc. do not provide the full picture, but may contain elements of a bigger picture, that is continuously updated. This may also be supporting a strategic planning perspective of a digital twin initiative.


What is a living architecture?
A Living Architecture is not dead – it is something that still breathes, as opposed to static and dead architectures that once they were built, they never received more updates. Typically, this is what happens to project architectures and other process optimization projects where piles of academic thoughts are left in documents – isolated, left alone, or maybe as properties in a legacy repository.


Why do we need a living architecture?
Because pace of change is increasing, and management calls for better ways to get insight to data and relationships, such as which product is the most important one? Which services should we plan to use coming years? Where are the candidates for take-out? Such analysis should not be project deliverables, but be part of an ongoing process where data may be connected and viewed in new ways to support few-clicks to better fact-based decision support. By revitalize the architectural information you can move the data governance to be automated and part of the strategic analytics agenda.


Is the strategic agenda related to architecture?
Many people have different perspectives to what-is-what and what-connects-to-what. The only way to get the larger organisation to view this in the same way is to share actively the interpretations and definitions to iteratively get consensus to what an enterprise mean by this or that. This is not something that is thought-up in the architecture office as an ivory-tower exercise. Only by federating data and expressions you will get to the collaboration of the enterprise to view things in the same way, then to realize that many of the ‘things’ mean different to different stakeholders. A living architecture serves the need to embrace it all, connect it all, and structure the information with updates and relationships to make it relevant for as many people in the business as possible. Enterprise Architecture is the practice to master this across the entire business – so whoever gets a question like ‘what projects do we have’ or ‘what services do we offer’ or ‘what investments do we plan next year’ can provide updated and meaningful answers – irrespectively of who he or she is. If you relate this to services, the SOA expert and the infrastructure guys will likely get different views and perspectives – but it will relate to much of the same information. As people come and go, processes change with new mergers and acquisitions, innovations in the pace that business is buying new stuff, there are things that need to be updated and live after the projects are closed, this is the living architectural information that must be managed to provide a common platform for living artefacts. We also see an increasing interest to relate this to external vendors and external services, simply to provide a connected picture of what offerings the company with partners is able to provide, see also how to enable SIAM.


Does this mean there is only one truth?
It means that information should be mastered where they are master best – and the Enterprise Architecture should be able to connect and structure information online so that there always is the overall system for providing the connected insight. Will there be stored information only once, typically yes, however, the perspectives and views might be different, so that the answer may look different for different uses/use-cases. If you work with infrastructure, your interest in services might be a different perspective, then if you are developer working with SOA services, and yet again different from the business analyst’s that is planning the services in the market for next season.  A living architecture is about the perspectives are different – so that different people will see different things – from whatever they find interesting! It’s not about making many large documents with ‘dead’ artefacts or huge process diagrams only the designer can understand!

A living architecture is about connecting the many types of data that are continuously changing at different frequencies in an organization and relate to each other. A good architecture description exhibit and collaborate with all stakeholders so that they can all see their perspective. A living architecture is the vibrant mean to succeed in the digital transformation. It provides the living links between the data. It may be useful for projects, but it may also be a subset to carry-on after projects are completed. The living architecture creates insight by building bridges between concepts and the many data in the real-world. And does it relate to governance? It certainly does, as we need to know who updates what from where. This is why a living architecture often is related to the digital governance offered by the MooD solutions.

There are plenty of frameworks that supports this. Open Group includes e.g.  IT4IT working with value stream, and descriptions of how to enable the business with plan, build, run and subscriptions.

If you like architecture – and enterprise architecture in particular, then make sure you deliver to people in the business constantly updated views of the estate. Make sure you embrace the terms and definitions to make it relevant and urgent for the users. Don’t waste your energy of detailed process diagramming that no managers will understand, but let it supplement where needed and focus on master the living updates of information that enables a live digital platform – and a prerequisite for creating successful transformation.

This is where we apply MooD to help large organisations succeed with the digital planning.
We power your digital MooD!

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From Watch to Move – Digital Transformation

Category:Services,UK Blog Tags : 

Very often, we hear the terms ‘digital’,  ‘become digital’ or ‘go digital’ as phrases for businesses being more modern and streamlined, however, it is clear from many articles and posts that people not necessarily mean the same thing with these terms. Largely spoken, they are all related to the two words

  • digitization and
  • digital transformation

However, digitization and digital transformation are also not the same thing, but even though these terms also are sometimes mixed-up, they may also correlate. This has recently been spotted in the great post by Jeanne Ross, try not to mix up these two words! However, they both belong to the digital agenda!

What is ‘digital’?

I have the age to remember the first digital watches – and how the CD-player as an innovation moved the music from analogue devices into the era of bits and ‘digital’ format – which eventually led to streaming of music data. And looking up Wikipedia (in English), it says that digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits; that was indeed the case of the CD-player versus the analogue voltage of record players. Now, the original meaning of the word ‘digital’ originates from Latin, which means typically finger or counting fingers, or just a finite number or digits. In other words, the simple evolution gives that digital is something that eventually ends up as a finite number of computerised bytes delivered somewhere of ‘some contents’ –  we may just call it ‘data’. So if we apply the definition that digital means ‘data’, then at its heart, digital is about the creation of data from hardware and software; digital is about the intelligent transportation of data; and digital is about the use of data to power smart industries and businesses!

With digital in the meaning of data from anywhere in the business, consequently, digital transformation may be seen as the ‘planned change’ to a future usage of ‘data’ involving new (sometimes disruptive) technologies. Hence, digital is an embedded ingredient of both ‘digitization’ and ‘digital transformation’. Digital is the key ingredient of Digital Governance.


Digitization is often known from public sector, service sector and LEAN where the efficiency of the getting more ‘digital’ processes and lean processes by avoiding paper, snail mail, etc. is being achieved. Different companies are not all equally forefront in digitizing the business. Borsen recently posted an analysis of Postnord (Danish/Swedish mail provider, former royal post). In Denmark the public sector has achieved a higher digitization than the Swedish one. This has been achieved with a high management-focus on digitizing the work flow and citizen correspondence. In other words, the word ‘digitization’ involves standardizing of business processes and is associated and motivated by cost cutting and operational excellence; or as one could say, to do more of the same – just more electronically. It is not that these companies are passive, it is just that they don’t change the business model, but may watch the ‘new kids from the block’ introducing new games and business rules.

“Digitization involves standardizing business processes and is associated with cost cutting and operational excellence. In essence, it imposes discipline on business processes that, over the years, were executed by individual heroes in a variety of creative (but not always optimal) ways.” – Jeanne Ross

Digital transformation

Digital Transformation represents a higher degree of change. However, we would argue that the key differentiator is that it is based on a different paradigm! It ‘splits rather than fits’ the existing processes, hence, it is a top-down approach to transform a company from as-is to the next digital era.

“Digital transformation is the strategy to execution toward a new business model which is based on a different paradigm, that it splits rather than fits the existing processes, and for that you need to map-out your future business model. Don’t start with your existing processes; start with your future operating business model!”

To make a transformation into a digital company, you need to consider the new way such a future company can achieve a market place with (maybe radical) different services, offerings, delivery methods, locations and meet-up. Companies that strategically seek to analyse and build this way, will not only look for more electronic ways to do the business of today, but they will seek a new operational model to serve customers with a different supply chain and operating model. These companies realise that they have to move the business model to reach the desired outcome.

Both disciplines are valid

Both disciplines are valid, but they clearly work from different paradigms. We recommend companies who want to become digital to work with it strategically, then to drive the strategy-to-execution and make it actionable and achievable. It is a totally different exercise as to digitize existing processes!

Where digitization involves a blueprint of all the business capabilities, then to map the low-hanging fruit to digitize the processes in prioritized order, then the digital transformation starts with strategy and architecture and forward-thinking; then to make scenarios or risk assessments to map out the actionable insights.

One may see the digitization as a pre-burner or enabler for the next steps, but if the paradigm of the business model isn’t changed nor if the digital transformation isn’t led by the business strategy, then it will have a hard time to sustain. We often recommend in workshops to illustrate examples of both artefacts, simply to get to the open-ended dialog of ‘where are we heading’ versus ‘where do we want to move to’.

Clearly, to strategize and map out the actionable insights may involve implementation and change management. We can help you to succeed!

We power your digital MooD!