Cheese Burgers & EA?

Was the Marriott Burger the start of Enterprise Architecture?

Today I’m poolside here at the Marriott in Maul, burning off PTO and points, having the number one meal partaken by almost every EMC consultant on the planet – the Marriott Burger. Wherever you go, they are the same; a Marriott, a JW, a Ritz, the Autograph Collection, even a Renaissance, it’s always the same bun, burger meat, bacon, cheddar, red onion, lettus, tomato and pickle, the fries are even the same – you can count on it. And, it’s almost always about $17.50. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Denver or Dubai, Scottsdale or Singapore, even Australia or Austria, it ‘s the same and you can count on it. It’s like the Enterprise Architecture of burgers.

The Marriott guy; J. Willard or Bill as his mom and dad called him, used various methods and tools to capture the receipe and essence of a Marriott burger. In doing so, he produced a stock menu item, a standard shopping list, and a picture to establish what it should look like; together he called these the design, maybe he called them the artifacts – probably not though. These artifacts, design I mean, describe the consistent construction of the Marriott burger, how to sell it, how to acquire its parts, kitchen staff requirements to make them, how much you can afford to pay for the parts, pots and pans needed, tempatures to cook at, training on everything bacon at the Marriott Bacon University, message exchange practices between customers, room service, chef’s and all the other world-wide Marriott interested parties. Soups to nuts; well, in this case, burger to fries.

Like Bill Marriott, enterprise architects use various methods and tools to capture the structure and dynamics of an enterprise. In doing so, they produce taxonomies, diagrams, documents and models, together called artifacts. These artifacts describe the logical organization of business functions, business capabilities, business processes, people organization, information resources, business systems, software applications, computing capabilities, information exchange and communications infrastructure within the enterprise.

Enterprise Architecture, like the Marriott Burger was, is set to be the next big game changer in IT, prompted by new challenges, including the need for enterprises to support a hetrogeneous customer base, growing competition from global firms and need for quick-response sequences.

An enterprise architecture (EA) is a live, ever evolving blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organisation through which enterprises could effectively achieve its current and future objectives.

“The biggest challenge that enterprises are facing today are ‘rate of change’ and ‘complexity,’” said John Zachman, the originator of the Zachman Framework, a standard for classifying the descriptive representations or models that comprise enterprise architecture.

“The environment [is] getting complex and if one wants to deal with complexity, it cannot be done without architecture,” said Zachman, underlining the need for early EA adoption.

In today’s IT environment, the inability of organisations to cope with ongoing changes may eventually drive them out of business. This is a widespread problem and corporations, particularly large ones, are coming to this reality and the concept of enterprise architecture is making sense now.

EA is a critical concern; it will be the IT issue of the twenty first century.  Those who adopt EA will get to stay in the game, those who do not adopt it will be wiped out by competition – better, faster, less expensive competition. EA is going to be the next game changer.

In today’s highly competitive and diversified business environment, successful businesses must be absolutely customer-focused and market-driven. Otherwise, customers will simply choose to take their business elsewhere – better, faster, cheaper. Companies have to be fully committed and pay considerable attention to what customers are asking for and actively demonstrate understanding and a willingness to change to meet customer needs; all the while not squandering stockholder value. EA helps companies originate and deploy business programs that support these fortifying initiatives.

Customer experience can be measured with operational metrics and correlates the levers of customer experience enhancement with that of operational efficiency improvement. These metrics endeavor to help the business leaders in identifying the right areas to focus on so that they not only have gratified customers but also improved operational efficiency.  Many, if not most metrics come from IT systems, these IT systems need to be built around and in support of business goals – EA supports this parallel undertaking. IT, with a consumable, implemented EA equips CEO/COO/CIOs and customer experience champions in the organization with an approach that would shorten the payback period for customer experience programs by making efficiency improvement as a byproduct of improving customer experience.

In the end, IT business partners, not IT silo’s, who manage to fully integrate their offerings with in-depth business vertical knowledge (business processes layer) and give the end to end solution will surely have a significant advantage in shareholder value. Integration of AE within the business will surely become the norm as adoption of IT based solutions increases. Integration of business and service oriented technology platforms will need to have the flexibility of supporting the end customer through business process services and will be invaluable.

You have to play to win; Bill Marriott took his favorite Saturday lunch and turned it into a world-wide EMC favorite, it is only when one buys a lottery ticket, does one have an opportunity to win something. Enterprise Architecture, driven through your IT department up through the entire business franchise, will not only bring process centric knowledge and flexibility but also a wide variety of support services which are needed and continue to impact the end customer. Winning!