Attended the Troux Worldwide event last week as an invited speaker. It was a fantastic event, over 300 attendees from all over the world, and the discussions were consistently deep and thoughtful. It felt very much like a homecoming – while I have been working in the trenches of IT portfolio management, ITSM, ITAM, and related topics, those topics are my content, not my identity. I am and suspect I will remain an enterprise architect at heart.

It was fascinating to hear the case studies presented by a wide range of senior practitioners, from companies like Boeing, Cisco, Caterpillar, Vodaphone, Kaiser Permanente, Fidelity, Volkswagen, and more. These folks were dealing with the heart of business/IT questions, and in no case did I hear a technically biased discussion of enterprise architecture. Every presentation started “outside in” with clear knowledge of what business they were in and what the challenges and opportunities were.

Capability mapping was a hot topic. Multiple presenters focused on how stabilizing a consensus, mutually exclusive and comprehensive capability map had aided the business in understanding itself. What capabilities are core? peripheral? weak? strong? Capability maps in turn help rationalize investments, providing a powerful view on enterprise priorities, risk, and redundancy.

The partner of capability mapping is value stream mapping, a term with Lean origins that is popping up more and more in enterprise architecture. (One also hears of end to end business processes and value chains.) The combination of capability and value stream mapping is often considered to be “business architecture” by definition.

Business architecture provides powerful context for more traditional but still critical EA activities at the IT level:

  • Application portfolio management – what applications support which business capabilities, and are there redundancies or deficiencies? What is the investment roadmap?
  • Data and information management – what capabilities produce and consume what data? Are there gaps or redundancies illuminated especially by a data-centric analysis?
  • Technology product lifecycle management – for many EA teams, their historic origin, and still a major concern. We’re a long way from those concerns evaporating into the Cloud, and some would view that as just a transformation – EA will still need to keep tabs on (for example) recommending against Sugar if SalesForce.com is the enterprise standard.

One interesting topic was the number of EA groups being moved out of IT. They are being aligned in various ways with other strategic business functions. Heard reports that the majority of EA groups outside the US already have this alignment, and the number of US groups being repositioned similarly is increasing.

One thing I haven’t heard of recently is an EA group being disbanded. Troux is reporting record growth, further evidence of EA’s staying power. Despite the easily-satirized-as-ivory-tower nature of EA work, it seems that the practice as a whole continues to gain credibility. (Don’t rest on your laurels though, EA!)

Thanks again to Troux for giving me the opportunity to attend this event.

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