Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit Experience

Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit Experience
Brian Damiani, EVP of Consulting – December 4, 2014

I attended the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit in National Harbor, MD for the first time. I’ve wanted to go to this event for years but my travel schedule always made it impossible. This actually turned out to be a good thing because the focus of this year’s conference was right where I needed it to be.

Like most people with Enterprise Architecture experience, I know there is solid value in EA but I’ve sometimes struggled with explaining what it is and translating that value to the lay person. The values have always been somewhat intangible or of the “future” type, meaning that having EA in place would help with things like project timelines, reusability and business/IT alignment but it didn’t have an immediate tangibility to the client today. We’ve also always talked about it in terms of being a business-focused discipline rather than an IT-focused one. However, it is evident to me after attending the conference that EA practices are finally truly turning to being based on “business outcomes”. The focus on Enterprise Architecture is moving to one of solving true business problems as opposed to one focused on diagrams, governance and oversight.

That term was so over-used in my life outside of EA, that hearing it again gave me a slight twitch; I’m not going to lie. However, the Gartner team quickly changed my perception and I’m now a big proponent. What follows here are some of the highlights of my two days at the conference and the sessions I attended. Some of these I will be expanding on in future blog posts:

The First 100 Days of Your EA Program

This was a great reminder for me and it’s always good to have refreshers. The speaker was Marcus Blosch, who was very good. I found it interesting that Gartner research shows that only 7% of companies with EA practices have failed and are restarting. Marcus did a good job of pointing out the principles of success as well as the building blocks and enterprise architecture strategy for the first 100 days.

Guest Keynote: General Colin Powell

While this session was, of course, not completely EA focused, (no, General Powell is not moonlighting as an Enterprise Architect) General Powell did do an outstanding job of tying his stories and experience into what we were learning and what had been presented in the opening keynote. As you can imagine, General Powell was very well received from the start and he did not disappoint. In addition to being a 4-Star General in the US Army, Secretary of State under George W. Bush, National Security Advisor and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he is also an accomplished speaker. This is the only session in which I made the conscious decision not to take any notes because I wanted to just listen and absorb.

Expert Panel Discussion: The Value and Importance of Business Architecture

Personally, I always find the panel discussions to be some of the most useful. The Gartner team is great, especially when they can relate what they are talking about to client work they have done. Hearing from “real world” people who are going through some of the same struggles as you resonate especially well.

Measuring the Value of EA

This session attempted to provide a framework for extrapolating EA provided to projects based on the success or failure of the projects themselves. I thought this was a decent attempt but still somewhat incomplete. I liked the bits about aligning EA to the Run, Grow and Transform activities in an organization but the word “arbitrary” was used twice in reference to the formulas presented for measuring EA value as related to projects. There were two formulas presented: one intended to measure business impact of projects as Project Size * Type (Run, Grow, Transform) where the Type variable held an arbitrarily assigned numeric value. The second formula is intended to measure the EA Impact on projects as Effectiveness + Efficiency. In this case Effectiveness is calculated based on whether a project was Aligned, Exempted or Unassessed through EA assurance of the organization. The Efficiency value is based on whether a project was Recommended by the EA team, if the EA team was simply consulted, or if the project had no EA team involvement at the start-up phase. This does give some sort of feel for
the measurement of EA impact but there are so many variables in a complex project that this is insufficient to depict to a C-level executive. It would help to have a measurement of project success (or failure) and compare that with the EA Effectiveness and Efficiency variables.

Day 2 Keynote: Driving New Business Outcomes With the Nexus of Forces

This session dove into the convergence of Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information, their impact on businesses, and how EA teams should handle these pieces. The most interesting part of this was the anecdotes regarding what some companies are doing in combining these forces for business
outcomes as well as what some of the future possibilities are. It got me thinking about how these convergences could potentially affect us and our clients.

Practical IT and EA Road Maps: Planning and Analysis

This is one of the sessions that brought it home for me. Cathleen Blanton did an excellent job of walking us through the concept of roadmaps, tying the types of artifacts to the roadmap process and how roadmaps can easily fail if they aren’t built for the intended audience. She also shared some examples of both good and not so good roadmaps she’s seen used in the past.

Four Laws of Application Total Cost of Ownership

I honestly didn’t expect much from this session but it ended up being informative and quite entertaining. There was a good focus on the components of application TCO and an excellent discussion on how the costs related to large, volatile applications will increase exponentially overtime. Nowhere is this more accurate than with the core administration systems used by our healthcare payer clients. The systems used by healthcare payers today to manage membership, maintain provider contracts and process claims are extremely complex due to the nature and regulation of the business and the desire for clients (and vendors) to make the packages do everything under the sun. An especially enlightening part of this
was the presentation of the forensic research done to get a view into the percentage of TCO that is attributed to the initial implementation costs. For highly volatile applications, Gartner’s research showed that the implementation costs only account for 2% of the 15 year TCO. This means that an application that costs $2,000,000 to implement will cost a total of $100,000,000 to operate, maintain, support and enhance over 15 years. If you look at core administration system implementations, it is exceedingly rare that they come in at the $2,000,000 mark and for large complex companies it can easily approach $1,000,000,000.

All in all, the EA Summit was time and money very well spent.