Steve’s Practical Approach to Data-Driven Enterprise Architecture

By Steve Force

How to deliver? This is what my practice area is all about.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, entitled “My Thoughts on Applied Enterprise Architecture”, I am a firm believer in a disciplined enterprise architecture approach that is 100% in line with business needs both current and future, using the established best practices to the best way possible to approach enterprise development in transformation in a very powerful transparent way.

Also as mentioned in that post, being a creative guy myself I know how the best thoughts evolve and are developed, the seminal thinking and the germination of good ideas, rarely if ever come from a structured approach.  Creative, motivated people just dive in and start playing, developing, and testing and breaking and testing and breaking until you have something that is working and is feasible. You then have a prototype that you can demonstrate in real time so that people can grasp what can be done. Once this happens, the ship has sailed. The interest is there, and with this interest/excitement comes support (and funding) and oftentimes with little appetite in documenting the already developed logic, nor any real interest in documenting future logic.  

And what about Enterprise Architecture documentation/artifacts?

This is where my approach comes in.

Rather than trying to get busy, engaged, and focused people to documents their work in progress or past efforts, why not just grab pertinent data from their source? Sounds easy and straight-forward, doesn’t it?

Well, yes and no. Getting access to pertinent data element might seem rather straight-forward; however, how do you know where and what data are needed? This is where I come in.

I blew up my pre-conceived ideas about my EA Practice….

or rather, fully embrace my long-held ideas which I’ve been nurturing for many years now of developing and manifesting the notion of an agile enterprise architecture or a perpetual enterprise architecture or a continuous enterprise architecture or what I now call a “Data-driven Enterprise Architecture” by thinking about how within organizations ideas evolve and execute.

By using my experience in a way that I can fully embrace the way the developers like to develop and to evolve their systems, fully embrace the needs of leadership business owners and key stakeholders, as well as the classical IT management , operations, enterprise architects solutions architects developments staff , etc., I can automate through a data driven machine learning analytics big data System that can clearly demonstrate how modern enterprise architecture can be accomplished without blowing up or disrespecting or making obsolete current industry best practices.

I focus on the middle: change, working with the process owners in the narrative, visuals, and data, by collaborating with said stakeholders on explaining, engaging, and by helping to enlighten all stakeholders.

I do this by understanding the requirements and expectations of the various stakeholders, anticipating their needs, constantly looking for patterns, best practices, data sources etc., that can be leveraged via data science best practices with the goal being a truly Data-Driven ecosystem, AND THEN DELIVER.

Experience, Knowledge, Patterns and Best Practices

My approach is a minimal disruptive/high impact approach, keeping an eagle eye on cost while maximizing results with potentially multi-factor benefits.

It also tries to anticipate customer EA needs before they are even aware of these needs (proactive, prescriptive approach).

My thinking here is since, in my opinion, practicing Enterprise Architects should have immediately usable and applicable knowledge about current best practices/trends, my approach will reflect this.

This to me means Data Science/Big Data.

Also, enterprise architects should not be technology or vendor aligned, so, again in my opinion, our approach should be as neural as possible. This means to me, Open-Source.

So, my approach leverages Open-Source technologies as much as possible. Now, this does not mean I will not consider another approach; to the contrary, I practice my discipline in the way that makes most sense, and hopefully provides the most immediate value, to my customers.

How? Patterns and Process

How do I approach this?  Simple: by using established patterns and processes. 

  1. TOGAF
  2. ITIL 4
  3. Open source if possible
  4. As technology/vendor independent as possible
  5. Data science/big data
  6. Knowing/discovering where data elements are (source of truth)
  7. Leveraging Open-source technology:
    1. Elasticsearch
    1. Kubana
    1. Logstash
    1. ArchiMate
    1. Etc.
  8. Leverage patterns and code I have already developed to harvest pertinent data elements
  9. Leverage patterns and process I have already developed to place these pertinent into EA artifacts needed for current (and future) use.
  10. Anticipating customer EA needs before they are even aware of these needs (proactive, prescriptive approach)
  11.  Thought leadership
  12.  Technology leadership – ability to provide leadership for and/or and create POC for high-impact Enterprise-level technology initiatives.

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