What is Enterprise Intelligence?

What is Enterprise Inteligencwe

Enterprise Intelligence is a key structure for supporting successful transformation efforts

 In my post “Enterprise Architecture and the Road to Enterprise Intelligence, I talk about an approach to enterprise architecture that results in Enterprise Intelligence.  Wikipedia’s definition of Enterprise Architecture as “the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating, and improving the key requirements, principles, and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution,” is probably close enough for most. I’m sure that every Enterprise Architect would tweak this sentence or refer me to the TOGAF, DODAF, etc. definition that is more meaningful to them. For this conversation it is good enough because it hits what I believe are the keys to understanding EA, which is that it is about managing change in the service of meeting the vision and strategy of the business.

 This is important because these are the same keys that make it so relevant to organizational transformation. The trend in the world is towards more change, happening faster. Business models are becoming more complex and high performing organizations have to be able to manage change in order to be successful. The period between the instantiation of business vision and the implementation has to shrink. I have honed in on the term organizational transformation because the “transformation” part is a key element. When business vision changes in order to be successful, high performing organizations must be able to change down to the last layer of the organization in order to be efficient and effective. This means changing everything from business process, to application, to performance measurement. Not only must the change permeate every aspect of the business, but it must also be understood that during, and most importantly after, the change that the entire stakeholder community will be affected as well. Enterprise architecture should obviously play a key role in developing this capability.

To me, enterprise intelligence is the decision support structure that underlies both Enterprise Architecture and Organizational Transformation. It is the explicit understanding and management of the key decisions needed to support the business throughout the execution of organizational transformation and its enterprise architecture. Many will argue that understanding the stakeholder community is already embedded in EA methodologies and they would be correct. I’m simply stating that understanding the stakeholder landscape, the decisions associated with this landscape, and the explicit value of these decisions is so important that it deserves specific focus. I’ve talked in some detail about this in “Specifications for Decisions Support” and “The Value Landscape.” Essentially, I believe that enterprise intelligence should provide a framework for understanding the key decisions that impact the organization and provide a framework for understanding the value that these decisions provide. For Enterprise Architecture and Organizational Transformation this should provide the organization with an explicit understanding of the value of undertaking these types of initiatives, while at the same time providing a series of reports, dashboards, and other analytic components and processes that specify exactly how these add value to the organization. Is enterprise intelligence a discrete concrete that should live separately from enterprise architecture?  There will be plenty of opinion on that subject and EAs being the types of folks they are, will make sure I’ll hear quite a bit about it. For me the distinction isn’t for the EAs, it is to help business stakeholders understand the tangible values of the pursuit of enterprise architecture and to tie together the pursuit of enterprise architecture and a capability around organizational transformation.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Specifications for Decisions Support

Identifying the business value of your portfolio is critical to overcoming hurdles

 I was talking with one of our Enterprise Architecture and IT Strategy partners the other day and he brought up an interesting request from a client. The client was in the midst of deploying a large enterprise portfolio management solution and the client said that his real concern was in developing the specifications for the solution. If you look in Webster’s Dictionary, the term specification is defined as “a detailed precise presentation of something or of a plan or proposal for something.[1]” It took me a few moments but I think it is one of the more insightful requests I’ve had from a client in a long time. They were in the midst of developing a solution that would provide them with a great deal of insight into their existing portfolios and enable them to identify opportunities to rationalize their application portfolio, identify redundancy and generally increase efficiency and effectiveness; but this particular stakeholder was already looking forward to developing the plan to maximize the effectiveness of the new insights that would be gained from the tool. I’ve touched on this in the past in “The Value Landscape” and “Living in a Post Troux Transformation World,” but I want to get a bit more into the types of things that forward thinking clients will need to address as they implement Enterprise Portfolio Management solutions as a part of the decision support and analytics available to senior executives and decision makers.

 During the planning and initial deployment of an Enterprise Portfolio Management solution, much of the focus and excitement is on the value “pop” that will come after the initial load of the system. No matter where that initial focus lies, whether it is the application portfolio or some other area, it is likely that the organization will see a big initial opportunity for savings or cost avoidance. This focus, anticipation, and excitement is warranted and I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade when I say that this initial step is just that—an initial step. Getting to real and lasting value only comes when you fix the problems that made the one time “pop” possible. This requires developing a real set of specifications and plans for the post implementation world AND this effort should begin before you finish the implementation. If you are like most large organizations your decision-making processes have evolved over a long period of time—simply pulling up a new system with fancy dashboards and analytics isn’t going to change the way you operate over night. One of the great things Enterprise Portfolio Management and Enterprise Architecture are supposed to do is change your decision making by providing specific informational support to specific decisions that result in a return on investment or value for the customer. In order to make this happen the organization has to develop the list of decisions that need to be made, identify the stakeholders involved in those decisions, identify the specific informational input and format required, as well as the appropriate flow through the organization. This is THE critical step required in order to ensure that your organization takes its investment in better information and analytics, and maximizes the value that it can bring to the organization.

I also believe that it is worth every organizations’ time to take the specific decisions I mention above and define not only their value to the organization but to define a value framework that enables the organization to understand the specific value in answering these organizational questions; both to the specific stakeholder and to the organization as a whole. This is critical not simply as a mechanism for ensuring ongoing funding, although it plays a critical role in that activity as well, but as one of the huge failings that technology organizations make in working with the business is a failure to speak their language, something I address in “Can you talk to the business in business terms?.” Being able to talk about the decisions you make and their relationship to outcomes is the critical first step in developing an ongoing partnership with the business. That is why it is critical that you define the business value your Enterprise Portfolio Management solution will have on ongoing decision making as part of your lead into the deployment of the solution to your organization. It also addresses many of the hurdles you will overcome in deploying and gaining the type of buy-in required to deliver a solution that delivers long term value. By developing the complete stakeholder landscape, decision support landscape, value proposition, RACI, and associated decision process flows, the organization ensures maximum value from its investment.


[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specifications

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

The Power of a Platform

Creating a platform that works for you

There is a lot of buzz around the word platform recently. From the source of all knowledge (Wikipedia): “Platform technology is a term for technology that enables the creation of products and processes that support present or future development.” The key word in here is enables. For companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, building open but proprietary platforms that enable innovation while maintaining control of the platform itself has led to enormous value generations for their shareholders and created real sustainable advantage. There is a particular mindset at work here that deserves particular attention because I think there is a lesson that can be applied more broadly by entrepreneurs, managers and executives in every organization.

1. Be humble. This may not be the first term you think of when you think of the heads of company’s like Facebook and Apple. However, one of the first things that should be recognized is the humbleness required in order to embrace the platform approach. Developing a platform requires recognition that you are not the smartest person in the room. You are essentially inviting the invention of others to ensure the value of your own creation.

2. Play well with others. Succeeding at the platform game means you need to be mindful of the success of others. Your success after all is now tied to theirs. Cannibalizing the success of those working to develop your platform is bad manners and eventually bad business. I don’t mean to imply the big four mentioned above haven’t broken this rule. I’m just suggesting it is bad form and ultimately undermines the power of your platform.

3. Incentivize participation. One of the biggest hurdles for platforms is getting to the level of community that enables the network effect necessary to succeed. Platforms are often about scale and so getting people in the door is a necessary first step towards any platform. How easy is it to use? How hard is it to learn about? How can you hear about it? These are all critical factors in determining if your platform will be able to scale.

So why should I care? The companies I mentioned are all giants. If platforms are about scale—how can this apply to me? The answer to this is simple. A platform doesn’t have to span the world in its breadth; it may span just your company or your business unit. The term platform should scale to inform strategic decisions by the largest companies in the world, but also be an important concept for those that are simply trying to develop better mechanisms for collaboration within their office, or engage their customers more directly. The concepts above are just as applicable. Thinking in platform terms is about mindset. The openness to innovation, willingness to work with others and incentivize people to join you in your endeavors is what drives results.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Organizational Transformation and Mentoring

Get a hand from a mentor

Developing the capability to execute on organizational transformation efforts is something I’ve spoken on at great length in my writing, speaking, and with clients. I’ve also talked of my belief that you can prepare your organization to thrive in the midst of change by focusing your organizational development efforts on the skills and abilities that apply to this capability. Mentoring is another way that organizations can help facilitate this type of professional growth for staff. One of the great drivers of value for mentoring is that it usually spans a longer period of time than traditional corporate training and educational offerings. It is often more responsive to specific needs and tailored because of the personal nature of the interaction. I have discussed in my previous post, “Mentors: Identifying & Leveraging Mentors,” the qualities which make a great mentor for you. In this post I’ll be more focused on the main forms of mentoring; essentially paid and unpaid, and the positives and negatives associated with both.

Unpaid mentoring

Unpaid mentoring is the type that most people will have had experience with over the course of their careers. If you have been fortunate enough to have a senior staff member, family friend, or other person provide you with advice and insight that is focused on improving you and helping you to succeed in achieving your goals, you’ve had a mentoring experience. The greatest part about the unpaid mentor experience is that often they are driven out of a very genuine concern for you as an individual. They can be an outgrowth from, or lead to life long relationships that greatly enhance your personal development and professional growth. On the negative side, the quality of the advice provided by unpaid mentors may very greatly because this is not something they have developed as a professional service. Availability may also be an issue because the mentoring needs to occur during times in which the mentor is free, which may or may not coincide with your timing and need for advice.

Paid Mentoring

Paid mentoring is more rare and usually reserved for more senior executives. Sometimes mentoring will be included as part of training or educational packages, as a mechanism for ensuring that participants are able to leverage what was learned in class on behalf of the organization. I am a great believer in this type of pairing in terms of getting value from training dollars. This usually leads to a greater training ROI because the mentor can help the you put your training to use in your context, but this is usually not long term enough to foster professional growth over the long term. Paid mentoring, or coaching that is of the more traditional nature, can be an enormous benefit to individuals working within an organization because they are looking specifically at how to support and enhance your professional development. They are generally more available given that they are being paid to support your requirements and you often have the opportunity to more specifically tailor the characteristics you are looking for in a paid mentor than you would in an unpaid situation. I want to focus on this last characteristic because it is important. One of the single greatest advantages to paid mentoring is the ability to choose from a much larger mentor pool and get someone who specifically meets your needs. This may mean domain expertise relevant to your field, executive experience in environments like the one you are working in or similar career arcs to what you are hoping to follow. On the negative side, all of this choice and the generally high quality of the product comes with what is usually a hefty price tag. Full time executive coaches may charge by the hour or provide packages on a quarterly or other time unit basis that roughly ties back to contact hours plus research.

Conclusion

As expressed in my earlier post on mentors, “Mentors: Identifying & Leveraging Mentors,” I am a real believer in mentoring as a means of professional development. Depending on where you are in the organization and how your organization approaches organizational development, you may or may not have access to paid mentoring. If not, it may still be worth looking into paid mentoring on your own as there is real power in having access to someone who is an expert in your field, has fought the battles you have yet to fight, and who may be able to provide real insight into how to maximize your potential. For all the same reasons you should always be on the lookout for unpaid mentoring opportunities. I have always been amazed at the willingness of so many people to play a real role in guiding people forward in their careers without any compensation beyond the satisfaction that comes with working to help someone else move their career forward. As someone who has personally benefited from the willingness of others to give freely of their time to move my career forward, I think everyone should be receptive to opportunities to receive mentoring. I also enjoy playing the mentoring role to others where I have had the opportunity and I try to accommodate this to the degree I’m able because I have received so much from so many over the years.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.