The value of enterprise architecture in tough times: report from Open Group (2)

Is enterprise architecture the right strategy for tough economic times, or should organizations throw away the deliberative long-term planning to fight more immediate fires?Here are more dispatches from John Meyer of The Open Group, reporting on the group’s 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference, held last week in Toronto.

Is enterprise architecture the right strategy for tough economic times, or should organizations throw away the deliberative long-term planning to fight more immediate fires?

Here are more dispatches from John Meyer of The Open Group, reporting on the group’s 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference, held last week in Toronto. Highlights from day two are summarized below. Day one is summarized in my previous post.

David Foote, founder and CEO of Foote Partners, LLC, said two diverging opinions dominate the discussion about the value of enterprise architects in an economic recession. One says architects are poorly suited to emergency situations where return on investment hurdles are primary directives, and another opinion argues that continued investment in architecture skills is critical during chaotic cycles. This session examined these positions and the current state of the architecture profession, drawing from Foote Partners rigorous proprietary trends research involving more than 1,900 US and Canadian employers, plus salary and skills/certifications pay benchmark surveys covering 87,000 IT professionals.

According to Foote’s study, those architecture skills that have shown the most demand based on compensation growth over the last year include project management, business process management, infrastructure architecture, business analysis, and ITIL.

Kumud Kalia, CIO and EVP Customer Operations, Direct Energy, Canada, talked about “the Role of IT in Mergers and Acquisitions.” Direct Energy, a subsidiary of the UK-based energy company Centrica, has grown into the leading competitive energy retail supplier in North America and is Canada’s 30th largest company. Kalia discussed the role of IT and enterprise architecture in successfully completing over 40 acquisitions over an eight-year period, and spotlighted where TOGAF fit into the mix. Kalia emphasized the importance of establishing a prioritization process, building M&A skills into the IT team, and managing staff through dramatic change. He also explained that while enterprise architects are not cultural change agents at Direct Energy, they very much play a vital role as thought leaders within the organization.

Minaz Sarangi, SVP and Head of Architecture, TD Bank Financial Group, delivered a presentation on the strategic role that standards-based enterprise architecture plays in financial services companies. Sarangi explained that risk and compliance, time to market and total cost of IT are often competing drivers for defining the IT investment within large financial services organizations. Based on this situation at TD Bank Financial Group, he realigned the company’s EA strategy to map with enterprise-wide business goals. In order to achieve this, TD Bank created reusable EA technology building blocks based on open standards. This “simplification” and standardization of the bank’s enterprise architecture has resulted in a superior customer experience, reduced overhead, and a more secure and scalable architecture overall.

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