Top reasons why enterprise technology roadmaps are important for the success of Digital Transformations

  1. Road mapping communicates business, technology and product plans to
    team members, management, customers, and suppliers.
  2. Roadmaps provide a guide to the team, allowing the team to recognize and
    act on events that require a change in direction.
  3. Road mapping is just good planning.
  4. Roadmaps incorporate an explicit element of time.
  5. Roadmaps link business strategy and market data with product and
    technology decisions.
  6. Roadmaps reveal gaps in product and technology plans.
  7. Roadmaps prioritize investments based on drivers.
  8. Road mapping helps set more competitive and realistic targets.
  9. Sharing roadmaps allows strategic use of technology across product lines.
  10. Road mapping enables a common view for entire development team.

Azure Data Warehouse and Azure Databricks can be used for large data analysis in a cost effective way…

Suppose you work in the analytics department of a large health system. Your organization’s IT infrastructure is hybrid both on-premise and cloud-based, and all data, including customer interactions and services information, resides in Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Your department analyzes customer services usage patterns and proposes inefficiencies in the processes based on your findings. You can achieve the desired results by using the robust machine learning and deep learning functions of Azure Databricks in conjunctions with the Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

Azure Databricks is a fully managed, cloud-based big data and machine learning platform. It enables developers to accelerate AI implementation by simplifying the process of building enterprise-grade production data applications. Built in a joint effort by Microsoft and the team that started Apache Spark, Azure Databricks provides data science and engineering teams with a single platform for big data processing and machine learning.

By combining an end-to-end, managed Apache Spark platform optimized for the cloud with the enterprise scale and security of the Azure platform, Azure Databricks makes it easy to run large-scale Spark workloads.

You can access SQL Data Warehouse from Azure Databricks by using the SQL Data Warehouse connector. SQL Data Warehouse connector is a data source implementation for Apache Spark that uses Azure Blob storage and PolyBase in SQL Data Warehouse to transfer large volumes of data efficiently between an Azure Databricks cluster and a SQL Data Warehouse instance.

Both the Azure Databricks cluster and the SQL Data Warehouse instance access a common Blob storage container to exchange data. In Azure Databricks, Spark jobs are triggered by the SQL Data Warehouse connector to read data from and write data to the Blob storage container. On the SQL Data Warehouse side, data loading and unloading operations performed by PolyBase are triggered by the SQL Data Warehouse connector through JDBC.

PolyBase is a technology that accesses data outside of a database via the T-SQL language. In Azure SQL Data Warehouse, you can import and export data to and from Azure Blob storage and Azure Data Lake Store.

Azure Data Factory is a cloud-based data integration service. It lets you create data-driven workflows in the cloud for orchestrating and automating data movement and data transformation. Data Factory supports various data stores. In this case it uses Azure SQL Database as a data source.

Cloud Migration Considerations

Over the past few years Enterprise Cloud Strategy has become an integral part of IT strategy. There is a growing realization that cloud computing not only represents a set of technical opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings, but also provides the potential to significantly transform the scope of enterprise computing. In fact, many enterprises are finding that cloud computing offers entirely new business models, revenue streams, and vehicles for customer intimacy.

The goal of any enterprise strategy is to create competitive differentiation and advantage, and little doubt remains that IT has become a key element in modern strategy. IT now drives transformative innovation, making it possible for enterprises to compete more effectively by instantiating processes that deliver ongoing competitive advantage.

For any IT organization to be successful in delivering its enterprise strategy it must deliver on its Enterprise Cloud Strategy. There are many areas to be considered when executing a successful cloud strategy. In this blog I will highlight the key areas to be considered when delivering on a enterprise cloud strategy. In the later posts I will explain each area in detail.

  • Define and communicate cloud deployment motivators both business and technical
  • Get cloud readiness & maturity assessment done for your organization
  • Choose the cloud adoption pattern for the organization
  • Define the cloud characteristics
  • Pick the cloud delivery model and workloads
  • Create the cloud adaption strategy and roadmap
  • Gather inputs from across the organization for success (e.g. business strategy, organization, processes,  App portfolio, infrastructure, governance, Fiscal considerations, etc…)
  • High-Level cloud transformation approach including cloud transition or/and transformation approach
  • Define cloud transformation assessment process for continuity of success.

 

 

Enterprise Architecture – Some key points

1)      Key Enterprise Architect Goals:

  1. Business and IT alignment
  2. Long term strategy both for processes  and technology. (Migration path, IT plan, Road map)
  3. Simplify and standardize (Blueprint, Models, Principles Standards, Templates)
  4. Reuse data & processes
  5. Innovation
  6. The big picture
  7. Leadership
  8. Risk management
  9. Governance

2)      Adapt an industry recognized framework: (A good framework is TOGAF. It provides all the tools needed to implement and run a successful EA practice)

  1. ADM – Step by step approach (Objective, Approach, input, steps and output)
  2. ADM Guidance (e.g. scenarios iteration) and Techniques (e.g. GAP)
  3. Architecture Content Framework – Work product (artifacts, patterns  and models)
  4. Enterprise Continuum and Tools – Virtual repository – Classifying architecture and solution artifacts
  5. Reference Models – TRM and III-RM
  6. Architecture Capability Framework

3)      Manage the client (stakeholders in the organization):  Identify the stakeholders and create a communication plan

4)      Assess the organization’s capabilities at all levels – Business and IT

5)      Create document to demonstrate EA value propositions

6)      Always keep an eye on EA goals and objectives

7)      Keep RAID in mind when working on different areas of EA:

  1. Risks must be recognized, managed and taken
  2. Assumptions must be made
  3. Issued must be addressed
  4. Dependencies should be managed

Retail Strategy in Multichannel World

In the past decade we have seen a tremendous amount of growth on the e-commerce front. Amazon has set the bar very high for all retailers. Retailers now have to operate in a multichannel retail economy. Shifting from a store-focused approach to a multichannel mind-set requires retailers to change their traditional frames of reference and ways of working. Now shoppers are increasingly shopping across all channels. They are looking for “convenience” and “efficiency”.  For instance, they are looking for price consistency across channels, the ability to buy online and pick up or return in store. Price transparency puts pressure on retailers to develop efficient operating models. The wealth of online information available to consumers raises the bar for in-store service and expertise. These are some of the examples the customers are expecting from retailers now. To transform retail into a digital organization requires looking into every function of the organization. One key area for retailers is to redefine the future role of the store in this digital economy. This definition should based on how to make customers experience more efficient. The retailers have to look into what customers are really looking for from the stores. Is it the convenience and proximity, efficiency, inspiration, instant gratification, discovery of a solution, information, or perhaps they want service, or maybe they want to experience brands and products first hand. Tailoring categories and formats of the store should be based on customer demographics, forward-looking analytic capabilities should be deployed to build and optimize both online and in-store portfolio and capabilities. Customer shopping experiences should be considered while devising the online capabilities. The store presence should be considered as an extension of online capabilities to deliver competitive edge and a customized shopping experience.  Execution on the delivery of these new capabilities has to done systematically across all channels, each channel should provide efficient and consistent customer shopping experience.

I recently advised a Telecom client to build their multichannel strategy. The retailer has both stores and online presence. There was no synergy between the two channels.  A multichannel strategy was needed for the retailer to continue to compete with competitors in both e-commerce and traditional retail space. Using a systematic approach and understanding the current business and technology landscape of the organization, we were able to successfully deliver a strategy that included a road-map to build their short and long term capabilities. We were able to position the client to compete and grow in this new ear of digital economy.

What is your Retail Mobile Strategy?

Majority of the retail customers are asking us to help them with their mobile strategy, while the perfect mobile strategy has yet to be devised. What I recommend to our customers is to first develop a strategy for their web site which includes mobility support as one of the major driver. They should have a clean, mobile-optimized site with easy-to-read pages that load quickly, easy-to-use shopping carts, and smooth checkouts. Most retailers wants to include app into their mobile strategy, they think that this help them drive traffic. That is not the case according to data from Mckinsey “Having an app doesn’t always translate into traffic: half of those who installed an app stopped using it entirely”. Basic functionality is more important to customers. The easier it is for a customer to navigate the mobile site, add and drop items from their shopping cart and check out, the more likely is that the mobile customer will be less frustrated and will have an easy and pleasant experience. The customer will more likely to complete his/her transaction.

The digitization value comes from driving self-service at all levels both on the customer and employee side. A well thought out digital strategy with mobile site as the main driver will enable business capabilities that will make customers rely less on the associates to make their selection and check out. Good digital tools along tying the online and in-store inventories with the mobile apps will make associates more valuable in delivering great users experiences and building customer loyalty. Nicely developed apps with feature like order tracking, items availability updates, and items comparisons  on the top of the great mobile site will enhance over all customer experience.

The best way to carve a sound mobile strategy for any retailer is to take a disciplined approach and develop a deep understanding of the decision journey their shoppers undertake and what they really value when it comes to mobile shopping.

How to show EA value to the organization?

  • Manage the change and dependencies
  • All Issued must be addressed
  • Assumptions must be made based on available data
  • Risk must be recognized, managed and taken
  • Pick the correct artifacts and data to communicate to the stakeholders
  • Show measureable contribution to the business
  • Use data for decisions
  • Flow of Information must be correct
  • Simply business architecture
  • Optimize EA activities where possible
  • Venders relationships need to be managed

Enterprise Architecture Practice Playbook: Areas of Concentration (Business, Portfolio, Solution, and Technical)

Business

  1. Mapping inter-dependencies b/w process, apps, data and technologies
  2. Partner with the business to optimize information flows and process
  3. Enterprise data modeling and reference data management
  4. IT strategy planning and investment prioritization
  5. Aligning IT with business processes
  6. Challenges
    • Determining a data ownership strategy
    • Collaborating with business units to identify core business processes and opportunities for rationalization

Portfolio

  1. Maintain global applications inventories
  2. Retire applications to simplify the system portfolio
  3. Managing ERP strategy
  4. Challenges
    • Mapping apps to business processes
    • Obtaining funding and by-in for legacy retirement
    • Determining mix between monolithic and best-in class packages

Solution

  1. Standardize development platform, tools and languages
  2. Provide design engineering services to project teams
  3. Embedding architectural standards into development life-cycles
  4. Creating harden patterns
  5. Conducting design reviews
  6. Challenges
    • Ensuring uptake of the architectural solution
    • Structuring incentive for reuse
    • Positioning EA as value added consultant to the development team
    • Involving EA early in the design process

Technical

  1. Create infrastructure road-maps and standards
  2. Introduce new technologies to the enterprise
  3. Providing technical engineering integration and security services to the project teams
  4. Challenges
    • Enforce technical requirements across business units’ technical requirements
    • Making the business case for foundation investment
    • Evaluating the life cycle cost and effect of new technologies

Enterprise Architecture Practice Playbook: Practice Areas of Responsibility

A mature EA practice should be accountable for the following key areas:

  1. Architecture Governance
    1. Standards and Governance
      1. Set up standards for apps, infrastructure, and services
      2. Setup review process for the standards
    2. EA Project Management
      1. Project-level compliance reviews
      2. Stage-gate architecture reviews
      3. Solution design pattern reviews
    3. Vendor Management
      1. Formalized process to provide oversight and engagement rules for vendors
      2. Collaborate with both tactical and strategic vendors
    4. Data Governance
      1. Standardize enterprise wide critical data
      2. Provide visibility to the data both for IT and stakeholders for decision making
  2. IT portfolio planning
      1. IT asset management
        1. Documentation and analysis on data, app, infrastructure and links to business processes
      2. Road mapping and planning (both strategic and tactical)
        1. Process for managing migration from current state to target architecture
        2. Short-term and long-term plan to deal with the constant change in technology landscape and business needs of the enterprise
      3. New Technology Evaluation
        1. Assessment of emerging and new-to-organization technologies for architectural fit and business benefit
  3. Business
        1. IT Business Strategic Alignment
          1. Analysis of Business needs
          2. Translation to IT and EA actions steps
        2. Business Process Improvement
          1. Using process models to inform IT support and resource allocation
        3. Innovation
          1. Innovation in IT systems and functionality to promote business productivity and growth
        4. Business Intelligence
          1. Information reporting and analysis capabilities
  4. EA Functional Management
          1. EA Mandate and awareness
            1. Awareness and support for EA’s mandate across the IT organization
          2. Performance Management
            1. Metrics and practices for assessing EA effectiveness and support of business and IT performance
          3. EA artifacts and tools
            1. Selection and development for EA tools and templates for informing IT investment decisions
          4. Talent Development
            1. Development and recruitment of required skill sets for EA staff

Key Components of An Enterprise Architecture Practice Play book

In this era of technology transformation, corporations need an EA practice to assist its units including IT and business in managing, operating, and extending NEW Context-Rich Systems, Smart Machines, Cloud and Mobile Support Systems, Software Defined Apps and Infrastructure, Risk-based security protection Setup that will be required to support the business. EA practice needs to have well defined mission and agenda. Following are the key areas an EA practice needs to concentrate. I have divided the key areas into four parts. I will cover Part 1 and Part 2 in this blog and Part 3 and Part 4 in my next blog.

Part 1: EA Practice Competency

Part 2: EA Charter

Part 3: Formulating The Practice

Part 4: Areas of Concentration (Business, Portfolio, Solution, and Technical)

  1. Part 1: EA Practice Competency
    1. Strategy and Business Alignment
    2. Customer and Partner Relationship
    3. Architecture Excellence
    4. Financial Acumen
      1. App Rationalization Opportunities
        1. Forecast, Accurate and Quantifiable Savings
    5. Communication and Collaboration
    6. Leadership
  2. Part 2: EA Charter
    1. Introduce the EA Function
      1. Define EA Mission, Planning Horizon, Scope of EA Activities and Span of control
        1. Areas
          1. View Technology Components Holistically
          2. Evaluate Solutions
          3. Communicate Technology Direction
          4. Integration and Enterprise Collaboration
          5. Reusability  and Standards
    2. Defined EA Deliverables
      1. Describe Short Term and Long Term work that EA will complete
          1. Short Term
            1. Assessment of IT portfolio
            2. Define Future State Architecture – Requirements, Principles, and Models
            3. Architecture Roadmaps (Tactical Alignment)
            4. Communication Plan
          2. Long Term
            1. Business Strategy Alignment
            2. High Value Projects
            3. Capability Enablement
            4. Operating Cost
            5. Architecture Roadmaps  (Strategy Alignment)
    3. Identify Objectives and Metrics
      1. Define EA’s Measures of Progress and Success
    4. Define EA Roles and Organizational Structure
      1. Describe EA’s Role in Strategic Planning
      2. Architecture Review Board
      3. Core Enterprise Architecture Team
    5. Describe EA Governance and Communication
      1. Define the Architecture Review Process
      2. IT Change Management
      3. Communication of EA information