Enterprise Architecture Paying off at Del Monte

Loraine Lawson

Enterprise architecture (EA) befuddles me. As far as I can ascertain, it began as an IT function, but at some point, it was decided that EA is bigger than IT and really needs to work with the business as a business function. I have no idea if this decision came from analysts studying best practices or, as I secretly suspect, from the EAs themselves.


Either way, it's a pretty gutsy thing for IT to birth a new job function and then tell the business how much it needs to adopt that job function. And I'm surprised the business listens. How would you act if accounting sent up some guy bearing the title "Tabulation Architect" and informed you he'd be helping you figure out what needs to change so IT can function better?


I'm even more confused after reading something like this recent post by ZapThink's Jason Bloomberg, which is provocatively titled, "Why Nobody is Doing Enterprise Architecture." Bloomberg points out you can't architect something that already exists:

... nobody is doing enterprise architecture. The truth of this bold statement is quite obvious when you think about it. Where does enterprise architecture take place today? In enterprises, of course. That is, existing enterprises. And you don't architect things that already exist. Architecture comes before you build something! Can you imagine hiring an architect after building a bridge or a building?

It's a fine point. He goes on to say that instead, architects try to fix what's broken using best practices and yadda yadda-it's way more interesting to EAs, I'm sure. But here's the rub: There are a slew of comments, some of which purport to agree then add a big "but" while others outright disagree.

 

After a while, I started to wonder why in the world anyone would want to sit down with an enterprise architect when they spend so much time arguing over the very meaning of their own discipline!

 

Mind you, the actual people I follow who practice and advocate EA are absolutely brilliant. I'm always impressed when I read what Todd Biske or Nick Malik write.


But I must confess, I've had my doubts about EA, even though I've written several times about how the discipline can reduce integration work. So, I was pleasantly surprised to read this recent Internet Revolution Q&A in which Del Monte CIO Marc Brown praises enterprise architecture for its integration value:

Our enterprise architecture value lies in the reduction of the integration and data "complexity tax." As the degree of integration and the intensity of information demand continue to increase, each subsequent capability implementation is faced with a "complexity tax" involving impact assessment, architectural design, and ongoing support. Enterprise architecture can provide the disciplines and basis to ensure that we minimize these additional overheads in order to speed up delivery and success rates.

It's always interesting and, I think, useful to learn how a non-technology-sector company benefits from "newer" IT best practices. Brown also talks about Del Monte's use of virtualization, federated cloud computing platforms and an internal cloud. The company's progressive IT practices seem to be paying off, too: The article notes that Del Monte tripled its profit margin and saw a 600 percent increase in net revenue during the past 10 years.

 

So, EA seems to be paying off in terms of more efficient integration, at least at Del Monte.

 

If you'd like to learn more about EA and integration, you might want to check out the recently released schedule for Gartner's 2011 Enterprise Architecture Summit, which is scheduled for June 22-23 in California.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 26, 2011 5:05 AM Robert McKee Robert McKee  says:

Hi Loraine,

Enterprise Architecture did not start in IT, the function should always have been a business function. In many articles on Enterprise Architecture you may have noticed that IT representatives are preaching the need for IT and business alignment, when in reality IT is only the technology enablement of the business vision, goals and strategies which is the responsibility of Business management.

Business management is responsible for all components of the business which is represented by its people, processes, technology and infrastructure and as such the alignment of business and technology cannot exist within a vacuum, and should be addressed as part of an overall strategy to achieve the company's goals.

In terms of the statement that we cannot architect something that already exists I would like to point you to a small example:

If a house owner wants to plan extensions to an existing house he would need to plan the "Future state" deduct what aleady exists "current state" and hand the builder a requirement which depicts the "Gap" between the two, the Architect together with the project manager would then draw up plans to transform the "current" to the "future" house within a given timeframe. At any time the houseowner can delegate responsibility but he cannot delegate accountability for the actions of personnel who work for him.

The same can be said for Enterprise architecture they are responsible for working with various role players within the organization but as I mentioned earlier only some, all or nothing may have an IT requirement and as such the business cannot abdicate their accountability to IT.

Hope this clarifies the issue.

Regards,

Rob

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Apr 26, 2011 5:56 AM Jon McLeod Jon McLeod  says:

Jason Bloomberg surely must be attempting to be controversial for the purposes of making his blog as interesting as possible. I understand.

Does he really mean to say that one only ever retains the services of an 'architect' in the very beginning of an initiative? When 'the thing' is being designed and built?

Hmmm.

The house we moved into recently has some issues. It is a liveable house as it is, but we believe it could be made far more livable. Yet the changes we envisage would be quite major.

Whom shall I call?

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Apr 27, 2011 2:21 AM Mike Rollings Mike Rollings  says:

Loraine, you have known for a long time that I believe EA is not the center of the universe. This excerpt from a past blog post is still true today.

Practitioners recognize that EA helps an organization unify the planning, optimization, and design of its business with the technology environment that enables it. However, the majority of non-practitioners do not recognize that planning, optimization, and design are related to EA. They may not even be aware of the term 'enterprise architecture' at all.

The dual perception challenge lies squarely in the hands of practitioners and the EA community. Practitioners should stop thinking that success is measured by how well the organization can quote EA terminology or by solely evaluating the maturity of EA. Instead, they should focus on being business relevant.

http://blogs.gartner.com/mike-rollings/2010/05/24/challenged-by-relevance-make-ea-disappear/

Mike Rollings

Research VP Gartner

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Apr 27, 2011 3:36 AM Warren Weinmeyer Warren Weinmeyer  says:

Hi Loraine,

Yes, EAs are sometimes their own worst enemy: I can understand the skepticism and confusion of people when they can point to such fundamental debates between EAs.

It seems to me that much of the debate - and skepticism of people such as yourself - comes from blurring the distinction between what is the EA concept and who are the people who practice EA (which are primarily IT people in most organizations).

The concept of EA is that all the aspects of People, Process and Technology can be harmonized to deliver on the corporate Strategy. This, intrinsically, is far more than technology and data (as important as these are), and this is why thought leaders maintain that EA should not be in the IT organization.

There is a clear trend in leading-edge corporations (which are generally also the ones that consistently rate the value realization of their EA practice highly) to in fact move EA out of IT: in these companies, you will find EA teams are staffed by people from many segments of the organization, not just IT people.

Having said that, the reality of the situation for EA is that, like hygiene, many more people talk about it than do it well. In the majority of companies, EA is in fact nothing more than IT Architecture: and it is in this context that EA (really, "faux-EA") has the most difficulty in justifying its value.

It is great to hear that Del Monte has realized value from the streamlining of its integration patterns, and hard cost reduction is certainly an aspect of the value of architecture in general. But that is really only a small piece of the pie that is there to be had.

Warren Weinmeyer

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Apr 29, 2011 10:23 AM Paul Preiss Paul Preiss  says:

Loraine,

You have identified an issue that we at Iasa have been seeing for years and it gets worse when you include the other 'types' of architects. I describe the gap between enterprise and software architects as the chasm into which architecture initiatives are falling. I have seen architects literally argue about what architecture is in front of CEOs. Our blogsphere and discussion sphere are full of people describing each other as not being architects at all. Most Iasa chapters have this discussion at least 3-4 times a year.

The situation adds risk to any architecture initiative and yet we persist. One of our core objective at Iasa is to bring these debates 'in-house' and then form a constant professional front to reduce risk imposed by this public inconsistency and create an engine for professional growth.

Great job on the discussion.

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Sep 7, 2011 9:37 AM Cazare Cazare  says: in response to Paul Preiss

Yes, this is a big issue that Loraine have identified. I think that they will find a way to fix the situation and eliminate the risk.

Reply
Nov 25, 2011 10:43 AM driver site driver site  says: in response to Cazare

I saw that you said that is an issue, but did you fixed it? I can not see any update.

Reply
Dec 17, 2011 5:07 AM Litoral Litoral  says:

I totally agree with Loraine! Good point!

Reply

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