Troux Worldwide Conference 2013: Day 1

Unfortunately due to some travel issues I missed some of the morning sessions at the Troux Worldwide Conference and apparently I missed some absolutely spectacular presentations. They  included: “The New Normal” by Peter Hinssen and “The Journey to Business Value” by Bill Cason, but I did get there in time to catch some really good presentations. So I wanted to run you through some of the highlights of what I did get to see.  I got into the conference about noon, just in time to grab lunch.  It’s being held at the Four Seasons in downtown Austin which is just a spectacular venue and I can’t say enough about how nicely put together the event is. Added to that, the quality of the presentations alone really makes it well worth coming.

So the first presentation I was able to attend was “Enterprise Delivery of EA Services-Cargill’s Revised Approach” put forward by Michael Dockham, an enterprise architect at Cargill. On a side note, what’s amazing about some of these speakers is not just the success that they’re having leveraging Troux to achieve business goals and to help do enterprise portfolio management, but it’s in the scale of the organizations that they’re able to achieve this with such speed. Take Cargill for instance. If Cargill were a publicly traded company, it would be the 12TH largest company in the world. If you want to talk about complexity, they have 75 business units, they are in 65 countries, they’ll have been in business for 150 years in 2015, and they’ve got more than a 1000 locations.  As Dockham was running through some of these statistics and I was thinking about what it takes to get an organization that large to adopt and get value from something, it’s a truly daunting and difficult task.

It was interesting to hear him talk about their history with enterprise architecture which really got rolling in 1994. It gives you a sense of the degree of complexity and the level of effort required to be successful in a large organization, but it’s also mind blowing when he talks about their pace of progress. He talks about the last few years and the speed at which they were able to get to value and especially in the last year, as they went through the Troux implementation and what it meant for their organization. He went on about just how transformational this technology could be within their organization, how this massive increase in capability happened in just one year in an organization that’s been working at this EA since 1994.

I thought some of the really important insights that he had were around business value. They have a CIO that comes from the business side, who has been in charge of food services and just recently, one of the largest SAP implementations in the world. He talks about his keys to winning, being driven by business value, being trusted by the business, and being an organization of choice. This organization of choice idea was, to me, a really nice way to talk about providing enough value to your business side customers so that they want to come to you. That was one of the things that he kept coming back to in talking about the various portfolios.  They’ve got technology portfolios, application portfolios, business strategy portfolios, and their ability to link those things together and really provide the ability to make decisions faster and with a higher degree of confidence, which is clear business value.  He made it his business to have people coming to him to do that.  So with this in mind, he gave a to do list for EA leaders. One of the things it included was not discounting the effort it takes to populate the data, which I thought was a great point. It’s something that people spend so much time thinking about, their method, or their approach, and their technologies. He highlighted that a lot of the real effort is in stitching together the information you’re going to need to be able to make ongoing decisions. You need to focus on the results.

He also talked a lot about capturing data at the right level to answer stakeholder questions, which presumes you know what questions they’re going to ask. Another point he mentioned was having a communications pro to be able to communicate out the type of information that you have. There’s so much specialized language and methodology and approach in EA and they help you deal with the complexity of the business problem that you’re facing. All the value you can create for your organization is nothing if it is not understand by your business.

Another great talk I attended was given by Klaus Isenbecker who is an IT architect for Bayer, which was entitled “The Secret Ingredients of Success.” To build on what Dockham was saying about the importance of communication to the business side, he made a very similar point. He said that oftentimes EAs get very impressed with their own information and complexity of it and things then get lost in translation.  He mentions having this “Aha!” moment when he saw the light of EA and what it could do for the business. He then made the mistake classic of going and grabbing somebody on the business side, telling them his revelation, and then getting this blank look from them. He said it was a lesson learned because the person that he spoke to didn’t really care about all of that EA stuff, what he cared about was the answers that he needed to know and that was it. I thought it was a really great point. I think sometimes there’s a tendency to be overly impressed with your own cleverness, with how exciting it is to be able to connect all these dots, and I think for a great many people, especially in these great big organizations they don’t really care about all that. They care about if you can you answer their questions and that’s it.  Klaus’s talk was probably one of the least focused on Troux itself that I’ve seen at one of these conferences but it was incredibly valuable from[JC1]  the standpoint of providing insight into what are the soft side skills required to enable transformation.

The final presentation from day 1 that I want to highlight is, “See the forest from the trees!….Shifting IT’s focus toward Investment Planning,” by Julie Standley, who is the Director of IT Demand Management from American Electric Power. This was yet another absolutely insightful talk.  American Electric Power is an older company, 106 years old, 15 billion dollars in revenue, and 57 billion dollars in assets. There’s a lot of complexity brought on by the fact that it’s both in the regulated space and a competitive space. She talked about having to maintain two very separate sets of plans for people, processes, and technology within the organization to help manage the differences in those business models and what it means for managing those types of large IT portfolios that are required to run a very large power business in the US. She also discussed being a CIO in that organization in a circumstance where there’s one large pot of money and there’s a lot of masters out there that need to be served. So how do you manage all that priority and how do you do investment planning in that environment? You have to be able to work down the chain from strategy to the technologies enabling that strategy, and really using Troux, and management, and architecture, and investment portfolio planning as a way to bring the company silos of operations together. It’s really a unique vantage point for through which to view the organization because for most of the rest of the company, the view is very dependent on the particular silo in which they reside. So it was really very exciting to listen to her talk about how the organization was able to use Troux to bridge the gaps between those silos and facilitate information flow to help the entire organization perform better, but also to manage the type of compartmentalize complexity that is required by the regulatory environment that they exist in.

So all in all it was just an absolutely great day. I can’t say enough about how much you can learn in something like this because they’re all talking about, at least in cases of most of these presentations, trying to solve the same problems that other large organizations are solving. You can learn a lot because there’s no marketing to speak to these issues. These are your own peers, in their own words, describing how they’re solving their problems. I think it’s just if you happen to be in this business, that it’s something that’s worth coming to see. I’m not saying that you can’t learn a lot by talking to the people that sit within any sales organization or engineering organization that you might be dealing with, but Troux is a great example of having a lot of great practitioners who also happen to be great sales folks, great engineers, and all that sort of stuff and it’s always nice to hear it from customers mouths. That’s the big focus of this event, bringing together those people or at least that’s my take away from it, so hope you enjoyed and I’m off to enjoy another great day today. Hope to see some of you here in the future.


 

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