24th, 2006: Information Architecture and Enterprise Architecture
Last week I attended
a practitioners conference
of The Open Group in Miami (Florida,
USA) as an invited speaker. My presentation
was called "Demand
side:The "Customer’s" Architecture--- the key role
of (enterprise) information architecture".
The reason for
this presentation was a prior discussion I had with John Spencer, Program
Director of The Open Group. Summary:
The Open Group is
a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium of vendors. Their Architecture
Framework is called TOGAF. In my practice as an (enterprise) information
architect vendors are contractors. In my opinion it will be very
difficult to get demand driven concepts and notions in TOGAF because
TOGAF is a supply driven method. It will not be accepted by the
market that demand and supply issues are mixed in one method based
on business and ethical issues. To give an example: a vendor cannot
help out on both the demand and supply side for the same reason
you will not find your architect at your contractor in the building
The notion of neutral
is very different from the notion of independent. It is a very good
idea to combine vendors to get neutral standards. The architect
on the demand side, however, must be working independently of the
vendor/contractor on the supply side. I am currently working with
several contractors to find a way to have a professional “translation”
from demand to supply and I will be most happy to work with Open
Group on this issue. I have worked with more then 200 organisations
and you must expect changes in the way of thinking if we are going
to do this.
cannot be involved in the development of the knowledge of information
in an information architecture (because they want to supply solutions)
it is very important to be able to know what an organization wants
to be able to supply right solutions. My presentation introduces
presentation starts with the notion of information
in an organisation. Information is defined (in line with ISO/IEC
TR9007) as the data that has meaning in the part of the world we
are interested cq. work in: our Universe of Discourse (UoD). Based on
this definition It is a simple policy for any organisation to try and
eliminate all data, and to want to have all information. To do this
it becomes very important to know what the information of our UoD is.
In general the primary information of an organisation consists of no
more then between 3 and 12 entitytypes. A Bank, for instance, has only
3: Persons (organisations and people), Products/services and
Agreements persons close for products/services (this is the basis
for transactions etc.).
be seen as a fourth corporate resource (next to
the original (economic) corporate resources Labor, Nature/Raw Material
and Capital Goods). Defining information as a corporate resource
completes the knowledge a UoD needs to manage and control their operations
and investments. IT has become a very important, sometime strategic
means (a capital good) enabling organisations to have the right
information at the right place at the right time. Having and maintaining
knowledge of information is, amongst others, necessary to manage investment
in and exploitation of this IT. Independent how activities are sourced.
So, demand side (information) versus supply side (IT).
is the way people are looking at the reality they "see". In
organisations, groups of people with a comparable profession will form
and need to share their view on their reality in the organisation (UoD).
This is what can be called an architecture. Because there are several
kinds of professionals, there will be several architectures.
This is quite different
from the notion of architecture the Open Group (and others)
have introduced. In fact they are not talking about the concept architecture,
they have several architectures. These architectures are "things"
by themselves. They are not a shared view on a reality, as is usual
in the building world. You have to build, design, create, document etc.
every one otf these architectures. Because most of these architectures
are somehow related to the IT-infrastructure, the difference between
architecture and infrastructure becomes indistinct and difficult.
In my presentation
architecture is defined as a shared view on a reality.
In the information and IT-sector we work with the following architectures:
- IT architecture.
The shared view (technical) IT-professionals have on the
(IT) Architecture. The shared view of IT-professionals on
the applications/services/systems/... and data, and the effectiveness
of its use by the organisation (UoD).
Architecture. The shared view of information professionals
on the information of their organisation (UoD) on its information
as a corporate resource. The Information Architecture must be a complete
view on the UoD, and therefore one will be able to derive the specifications
needed to procure, develop and maintain IT-solutions.
Outside our professional
realm there are other architectures, like the business architecture
(where, amongst others, the way people work together in business
processes is shown) and others.
Looking at the
slide 10 TOGAF is positioned in the above. Combining
this with slides 11 and 12 TOGAF is seen as mainly encompassing the
work of the IT architect and the Enterprise (IT) Architect. Supply side.
The information architect, however, is positioned on the demand side.
All of this is in line with the certification as done by SCIA.
Next in the presentation
governance is discussed. One of the difficult issues
in governance in the Information and IT-sector, today, is the position
of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). If the CIO is an IT-manager
his/her position will be at tactical level in the organisation (IT
is a means, a capital good). If the CIO is a business manager (s)he
is usually working at strategic level. In the picture on slide 14 the
CIO on strategic level is called CCO: Chief Change Officer. In my opinion
this should be the position of the CIO, but in practice it is not so
I introduced another acronym for the function. The CCO is supported
by the (chief) information architect and the CIO (now tactical)
is supported by an enterprise- and an IT-architect. One of the tasks
of the (chief) information architect is to make the knowledge of information
available to the IT-professionals as specifications or scope of work.
This way there ought to be no real difference between insourced and
outsourced activities from the perspective of the CCO; projects and
The following points
in the presentation
are relevant for the work of the Open Group and for IT-vendors (softwarehouses,
systemhouses and IT-consultancy) in general:
- The notion
of information next to the notion of data is very important because
a UoD is only interested in its information. Based on the definitions
of ISO/IEC TR9007 on Conceptual Schemas (1983) information
can be seen as a corporate resource. It enables organisations to manage
their investments in and exploitation of IT.
is a corporate resource and IT is a means, one of the capital goods.
It is impossible to outsource the knowledge of information because
it is a corporate resource and as such it is one of the defining factors
of the organisation. Outsourcing IT may be possible.
is a shared view on a reality. In our case usually an organisation.
This is quite different from the notion of architectures as developed
and promoted by The Open Group (and others). The definition
of architecture of The Open Group is very close to the definition
of infrastructure, and is hardly compatible with the use of the word
architecture in the building world. The are talking about an
architecture, not about architecture. Architecture is not a method,
a model, a development method, a documentation method, a modeling
language or something domain oriented.
- The Enterprise
and the IT architecture are positioned on the supply side, while the
Information Architecture is positioned on the demand side. It is virtually
impossible as a supplier to work on both sides, mainly based on ethical
and business issues.
- Governance of
IT is more and more positioned at tactical level of the organisation,
where capital goods are managed. This does not mean IT is not of strategic
importance for an organisation. At strategic level (information)
management is based on information as a corporate resource, and the
knowledge of information is used manage and control IT as a business.
- IT-vendors (softwarehouses,
systemhouses and IT-consultancy agencies) are working comparable
to contractors in the building industry. On the supply side. In 2006
there are hardly any suppliers dedicated to work on the demand-side,
yet. The support professionals in organisations can get for their
work with information is limited and scarce. Independent support is
hard to find.
- Being is quite
different from being independent. Neutrality means one is looking
for a best solution for everybody, while independence means one is
searching for the best professional solution. Neutral may be the ultimate
solution if you have participating organisations who will have to
change if the result is not enough in line with they work today. Independent
will be looking for the best professional solution. See
also the weblog Neutral versus Independent.
- The term Enterprise
Architecture is difficult to understand for none IT-professionals.
At the moment it is NOT the view on the enterprise as it works itself.
Enterprise architecture looks at IT effectiveness in its support of
its organisation. It would be much clearer if we could talk about
IT-business of IT-enterprise architecture instead of Enterprise Architecture.
Currently the term is very confusing for non-IT people.