March 29, 2009

New paper

Recently I have been thinking a lot about similarities between (a) the tension between business and IT in general, and (b) the tension between strategists and architects that you see in many companies these days. This is, obviously, one of the key topics for this blog. I think part of it has to do with C.P. Snow's observation that tensions of this type are mostly cultural. I have recently finished a paper on this topic that I will present at the PRET conference in Amsterdam. As a follow-up, I also wrote a short paper (in Dutch) for the .EGO magazine, which I highly recommend. The title of the paper is "Business & IT - waar zijn we nou helemaal mee bezig". The PDF version can be found here (note: paper is not accepted for publication yet, stay tuned for updates).

March 25, 2009

Book idea

I have recently met with Tom Graves, independent consultant and author of many excellent books (some of which happen to be on enterprise architecture). We visited Erik Proper at Capgemini and Jos van Oosten at Q-tips to discuss our views on enterprise architecture.

After Tom's visit in the Netherlands, we've decided to start working on a book together. The theme of the book is the use of a common (meta)model for assessing and improving the effectiveness of organizations, generating strategic options, and doing real enterprise architecture work. 

We are currently in the progress of crafting a book proposal and welcome thoughts on the above mentioned theme. If you have any relevant materials (books, articles) or case studies (e.g. results from consulting jobs) then please get in touch.

March 6, 2009

Alignment 2.0

Yesterday I attended the vijfmaart symposium organized by SBIT at the University of Tilburg. There were several intersting presentations and many old friends to connect to. Interesting to see that several of my former classmates ended up in jobs which somehow relate to strategy, alignment, architecture etcetera.

One of the speakers was Eric Sluis, CIO at Achmea/Interpolis. He discussed several interesting things. What really caught on, for me, was the model that he uses for enterprise architecture. This model is called "the delta method" and is developed/used by novius. The good thing about his way of thinking is pretty much in line with what several architects have claimed in the past: the method doesn't work. Select a method, adapt it to what works for you and get to work.

Another interesting speaker was professor Venkatraman (a.k.a. Venkat) who did some groundbreaking work with Hendersson on Alignment in the 1980s and 1990s. Alignment is an important aspect of the information management curriculum at Tilburg University, which exists 25 years this year. Venkat was asked to look back on the last 25 years and present his latest insights on alignment. He started with a brief overview of the original view on alignment issues:

After explaining the basics of this way of thinking, we discussed several recent trends such as Moore's Law, Metcalfe's Law, the bandwith law, but also changes in the business context such as increased (pressure for) agility. Central to his latest insights on alignment (dubbed alignment 2.0) are two observations:
  1. IT (and business IT alignment) is a shared responsiblity by business and IT
  2. Business are increasingly focussed on balancing the need to innovate with IT on the one hand and to implement and leverage their innovations on the other.
This leads to a new 2x2 matrix and 4 new perspectives on alignment:

  • For cost centers, the focus is on creating a best class global IT infrastructure. The driver for the business case is the lowest delivered cost benchmarked against external referents; activities are not directly connected to business strategy yet it is seen that IT is necessary to run the business.
  • For profit centers, the focus is on spporting current business operations. The driver for the business case is the contribution to customer value creating and delivery by achieving current profitability levels. This is achieved by supporting all aspects of the enterprise operations.
  • For growth centers, the focus is on shaping future growth trajectories through new business model innovations. The driver for the business case is the exploration of different avenues for growth with IT, and examining the transformational changes required to rebuild the business models.
  • For invetment centers, the focus is on influencing the future rowth trajectories through selective experimentation. The driver for the business case is allowing for experimentation of how IT could create and shape new business models.

March 2, 2009


This Thursday there will be an interesting symposium at Tilburg University (see here). There are several interesting talks, one of which includes an overview of "25 years Information management and technology". Should be interesting, as this the place where it all started for me. I'll be there all day so let me know if you'd like to hook up.