Friday, August 10, 2007


Enterprise Architecture and Innovation

Many Enterprise Architects have gotten it twisted and mistake innovation for assimilation...

There is a knowledge crisis in corporate America. Luckily, even our process-oriented non-technical IT executives are starting to realize that they need to focus on people first and that real innovation can't occur without it.

Have you noticed that many Enterprise Architects are busy aligning with the business which results in creation of lots of expensive four-color chock-a-block eye candy PowerPoint but have forgotten that IT exists for one reason: working software?

What would happen if Enterprise Architects did something different than learning the latest buzzwords, business nomenclature and the rants and screeds of industry analysts and instead focused on ways to radically change the behavior of how software is constructed?

I believe that the word innovation should be banned from the vocabulary of Enterprise Architects as most of us simply aren't capable. What we are capable of is teaching others better ways to develop software, taking our otherwise heavyweight processes and making them lighter and becoming the best example of leadership within IT when it comes to industry standards and in developing timeless architectures.

One aspect of enterprise architecture is stewardship and being the advocate of the strategic intent of the business. What if we were to help advocate how software should be written, so that the business can procure better working software? Very few of us actually protect our business interests as we think we are supposed to rally for the cause and are somehow cheerleaders for the latest fad. I sure hope no one lifts up our skirt.

There is a lot of excellent software development being done by programmers, and there are a lot of unhappy users who can't find software that works the way they think it should. But as somebody said a decade or so ago, it's not a crisis because it's been going on too long. Every now and then, someone comes up with a cure, but it usually results in programmers being able to do bigger and better software that does things that the users don't want, or fails to do what they do need.

ECM Vendors need to spend time finding gaps in their products especially when it comes to enterprise security and likewise, we need to help keep vendors honest in this regard. Security oriented legislation such as SoX, HIPPA, GLBA, PCI, California 1386, etc are the biggest unknown variables in enterprises today, not only in terms of risk but also expense yet enterprise architects aren't asking their vendors to step up and help them.

The folks who talk about federated identity, single signon and CardSpace only speak in terms of productivity but avoid the conversation as to how their technology aids in compliance. Supporting identity is interesting at some level and focusing on SAML and authentication is a good first step but you need to ask yourself if technologies that can enable single signon has been available for years, how come enterprises haven't pervasively implemented them? Is it because the focus on authentication is not really an enterprise problem?

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