Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Enterprise Architecture and the morphing definition of rigor...

Have you noticed that many enterprise architects define rigor around theoretical boundaries while eschewing empirical approaches?

Many enterprise architects have fell into the same trap of industry analysts. We can sort vendors and their value propositions based on arbitrary criteria without actually having even seen the software. We will send out surveys and ask others of their opinions. Of course, they haven't actually installed nor seen the software either. Should enterprise architects believe that elegant design and perception management are strong substitutes for empirical rigor?

I am not saying that elegant design isn't important. I am willing to say that we focus way too much on perception management though. All of these things are important, but what is more important is in satisfying customer requirements related to expenses and enabling the strategic intent. If we were honest with ourselves, we would look at open source more deeply and demand that industry analysts show open source software in the same report as commercial proprietary software. As an enterprise architect, does your business customer ever tell you that you absolutely cannot reduce their costs and must keep it inflated by only looking at commercial offerings?

It is theoretically easier to call up a vendor who will do all your thinking for you in the form of low-hanging fruit type proof of concepts. I defy any enterprise architect that has taken this approach in the past, to translate this activity into any type of meaningful customer-side metric that will reflect positively on either enabling the strategic intent or reducing costs. Reality says that the choice of low-hanging fruit is usually guided by IT only principles where the considerations of the business are second class.

Empirical evidence approaches require higher talent resources but get you closer to metrics that business folk understand. When will we start measuring the exact things that customers care about and stop measuring what is easy rather than what is right? Open source benefits business customers, ignoring most analyst research benefits business customers and of course making yourself smarter such that your proofs of concepts are more technically challenging benefits business customers...

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