“New” changes. Newness doesn’t.

Back in April of 2007, Optimize Magazine ran an article by M.S. Krishnan titled Moving Beyond Alignment. Its summary: strategic business innovation requires a flexible infrastructure so that the company can utilize the business models needed to achieve goals. Thus IT governance and architecture must enable the enterprise to “synchronize with changes in the business environment”.

Meanwhile, scheduled for late 2010, the book from strategic technology architects Greg Suddreth and Whynde Melaragno called The Path to Real Business Transformation discusses “dynamic synchronization… a rigorous, business-case-driven collaboration between the business-process owners and their IT counterparts.” For this, the framework of problem-solving is what they call business architecture.

“Innovation” always has an aura that suggests the big moment of arrival of the new. But getting to utilize the new is the only way that value is derived from innovation, and utilization requires integration into, and synchronization of,  the operational scheme of things. This emphasis on synchronization firmly declares that the problem of follow-through on business strategy is fundamentally about coordinating the moving parts.

Anyone who has tried to manually shift gears in a moving vehicle knows that synchronization has two operator-controlled aspects: time spent in the gear, and timing of gear changes. In a competitive context, where time and timing are pre-planned and managed for variances and circumstantial adjustments, this plan is even seen as a strategy itself. The performance level of the plan’s execution, especially in complex or volatile environments, is then most often seen as “agility”. Achieving agility is, for that reason, a common business objective related to scoring business goals.

Suddreth and Melaragno further state that “business architecture” is developed through a process that defines and institutes long-term change within a framework of strategy (for example of goals, related positions and directions), planning (for example, of resources), and execution (for example, of services). They go on to point out that multiple business areas must be complementary in the context of solving a defined business problem.

To assure proper pursuit of that agreement, it becomes necessary to appreciate the difference between innovative business uses of IT versus business use of innovative IT.

  • In the former case, the emphasis is on the business-level understanding of how moving parts might be aligned in a new way.
  • In the latter, the point is to introduce moving parts that have a different set of characteristics and interactions than those typically tried before.

From the point of view of these authors, the former issue is a concern of business architecture; and the latter issue is a concern of IT architecture, in which (among other things) the business architecture is  “physicalized” according to Suddreth and Melaragno.

Given those points above, it would seem that the challenge is to prioritize business innovation, then leverage business architecture to identify and incorporate IT innovation that can be scheduled within IT architecture for a reasonable chance of sustained synchronization.