Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Enterprise Architecture: Where have all the developers gone?

Do you remember the Wendy's commercial in the 90's where the little old lady was asking, where's the beef? I suspect many business customers want to also know what happened to all the developers?

When I started my illustrious IT career in high school in the 80s in working for Cigna as part of their Application Field Services division, pretty much everyone in IT knew how to sling code. Nowadays, you are lucky if you could find an enterprise IT shop where 25% of its inhabitants know how to code in a modern language.

Many within the Enterprise Architecture community can wax poetic about the need for business and IT alignment. Few, however have realized that prior actions in the spirit of aligning may have actually moved us further away.

I remember when business customers used to roam the corridors of IT where they would strike up a conversation on whatever they were noodling. They could intellectually test their thought processes against pretty much the first person they found. Nowadays, they are lucky if they get to do this at all, and if they do it is more than likely mired in formalism that takes several weeks to accomplish.

We have outsourced all the developers to different countries in different timezones and now the enterprise architecture team is the last bastion of hope. Is it better for them to focus on meta-issues such as whether to leverage Zachmann vs TOGAF or should they instead figure out how to bring back genuine conversations with the business?

In the age of turning everyone into a plug-compatible human resource, we have managed to make things less human. It used to be very easy for a business person to identify someone in IT. Why did we make it so much harder for our customers to recognize us?

To find a real developer, you must go on a pilgrimage to a dark corner with a strange blue glow, following the trail of Twinkies and Little Debbies and Red Bull can's... You may ask the developer there if he is, but he/she probably won't speak in a language you understand. If the response is incomprehensible, you've found what you're looking for.

Does the business really want better PowerPoint that uses the corporate template when communicating with them or would they prefer a genuine conversation that is thoughtful and timely even if they don't understand it all?

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