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Courtesy of Janus Insights's Gustav Toppenberg, below is a transcript of his speaking session on 'Building a business-enabling “digital backbone” requires a modern EA approach' to Build a Thriving Enterprise that took place at BTOES Enterprise Architecture Live Virtual Conference.
Building a business-enabling “digital backbone” requires a modern EA approach
Meeting increasing customer & employee expectations for new data and digital products requires the need to drive innovations to market more quickly and cheaply. Commonplace in large global organizations is the strategy for individual lines of business to feverishly yet independently pursue this goal through siloed efforts that lead to fragmentation and missed opportunities to leverage economies of scale and cross-pollination of innovative ideas. Companies with modern enterprise architecture groups are creating a digital foundation (the “digital backbone”) to meet individual business functions’ needs while accomplishing enterprise goals and digital ambitions.
In this session Gustav will share an architectural approach that combines the use-case and foundation building strategies employed by many companies to attain their data and digital ambitions. He will share how to engage with both business and technology leaders to crate a organizational movement to build and sustain the digital backbone of the company.
Gustav has researched extensively on the topic of the Digital Backbone (https://www.cutter.com/experts/gustav-toppenberg) and as an enterprise architecture leader has implemented the concepts and strategies in his roles at BCG, Catalina, Aon and Cisco.
Gas and our first presenter today. Doctor Hamburg is that these are transformation executives and the principal consultant with ... Insights. He's an enterprise transfer enterprise transformation executives with over 20 years of experience. His background includes building and leading transformational efforts for both small and large global companies.
He's also also co author of the recently released book, Architecting Growth in the Digital Era How to Exploit Enterprise Architecture to Enable Corporate Acquisitions. Gustav, it's a real pleasure and privilege to have you join us today and share your expertise with us. I am going to make you our official presenter here.
So, you'll see a popup screen come up on your end, and when you accept that stuff, you'll be able to share your presentation for our audience.
Excellent. Thank you so much.
It's a real honor and privilege, just done a quick audio check and make sure that you can see, it looks good and your audio is coming in coming in well as well.
Well, I really appreciate the opportunity to be speaking to all of the live attendees at the today's presentation, as well as all of those who will be watching this in the future.
We are at a unique point in time in the history of our planet, And I'm sure many other presenters have referred to it as well.
And to me, it is a cautious time, but also a very optimistic time at the same time.
I've been doing a lot of research and practical work in digital transformation over the last 20 years, and one of the threads of importance in the enterprise architecture space is what I'm referring to as the digital backbone.
And so, when Jose and the team reached out and asked, could I presented something? This was the first thing that came to mind, because I think it's so topical at this point in time that we think about how to make our transformational efforts. in particular, those that are digital in nature, more predictable, lower cost, and have time faster, time to value as well. So, that's what I plan to share with you. Today, not everybody is familiar with the concept of a digital backbone. And I'm certainly not the first one to have coined that idea. But I'm going to share with you, first of all, what the digital backbone is all about, how it fits into digital transformation, and what you, as enterprise architecture leaders can use it for in helping to build a foundation while all these digital transformation efforts are taking place.
I'm going to advance the slide here. So, here are some things I thought we could talk about today, and, of course, when, I mean, talk a little bit more difficult in a virtual conference, but the team here, put this event together today, have made that a lot easier to things we're going to do. one is we're going to do some poll questions, along the way, for a little bit of interaction, as well as my encouragement for you to, To share any and all slides, at the same, or any, and all questions on the slides as we go through. As I mentioned, I'll share a little bit about what I mean by digital backbone and how it supports digital transformations that we're all engaged in.
We'll talk a little bit about designing and building that digital backbone and connecting it to business goals, identifying potentially some ways of connecting The platform, the data, and digital platform that we're building, which is essentially the digital backbone, back into value streams, back into customer journeys, because of course, that is what everybody wants to talk about. Today, I haven't met a business executive who doesn't want to talk about a value stream, or customer journey, or designing a better experience for clients, customers, and employees.
So I want to leave you with some ideas on how you can connect this idea back into that business conversation, because after all, that is what's real enterprise architecture is all about. It's not just being in the machine room of the technology side. Then the last one is: How do you then engage executive stakeholders and create that momentum to invest in and improve the digital backbone? And then I'll share with you some some lessons learned.
All right, First of all, the reality. And the recognition is that the pressures of digital transformations are constant.
And so what I want you to keep in the back of your mind as we go through today's presentation and discussion around slide or around questions is, does your company need a digital backbone? And I would love to hear from you as you go through the next little bit, You know, your thoughts on this. The idea is that this digital backbone is away, as I said before, is making your digital transformations more predictable, lower cost, and faster to market, and we'll get into exactly what that means as well.
Alright, first of all, whenever you present something new, always in my mind, you always have to define it.
And English is not my first language as it sounds like it, we have a very global audience and so, I like to define terms as as we go. So here, I'll give you my working definition and this has been about 4 or 5 years now in the making.
I first, I started looking at digital relating to binary digits and digital images and so forth, employing digital communications. Through broadcasting.
For instance, the backbone is this foundation or substantial or sturdy part of something we know it best as the backbone in our bodies. But it could be a firm or resolute character, or in this particular case, technologies that support, how a company architects itself by design, as opposed to by happenstance. So my working definition of a digital backbone is an assemblage of enterprise grade technology and infrastructure methodologies, skills, and talents. And again, my guess is, as you go through this, you may have things to add as well. So I'd love to hear some, you know, what you have to, to add to it. The idea is that all of those technologies, infrastructure, methodologies, skills, and talent, and data, as well, are organized in a way that allows anyone engaged in digital transformation, the ability to easily employ that digital backbone.
The idea is almost like a, someone told me once, it sounds like it's sort of like an enterprise service bus. But for digital transformation, It's the idea that every single executive or function you planning to or aspiring to transform a different part of the enterprise, are going to be able to leverage those, those digital component. So, digital backbone components.
And as they do so, they're employing them, they're enriching them, and then they're also lending them back to other transformation efforts as well. You can think of that in terms of skills and talents.
If every single executive, in every single function of your company, are undertaking a digital transformation, there likely employing people like Scrum Masters and product owners and UX designers, and data and analytics people. And I mean, the list goes on and on and on. Wouldn't it be great if at the end of that digital transformation, rather than maybe protect perhaps, perhaps no longer having something to do that they came from a place in the organization that they can then be sent back to and then get redeployed somewhere else? Same thing is true with methodologies, technology, infrastructure, and data.
The more we use it, and the more we connect it together, the Richard becomes for the organization. And if we, as enterprise architects, take our job series, think that's a big part of the value that we can provide. So, so that's the digital backbone. As I mentioned, I can return researching and working on this topic for a longtime, any of you interested in digging into some of the more specifics of it. I have some articles posted on Qatar Consortium. The link is right there. You can look up my name and feel free to reach out to me as well if if you're unable to get access to a particular article you're interested in. But it's been an enriching journey to look out, for sure.
So, wanted to, before we go any further? I wanted to share with you a depiction of what a, from an architectural standpoint, given that this is an enterprise architecture audience, Wanted to give it just an idea of if you put it on a page.
This is, to me. This is what the technology infrastructure data piece of the digital backbone looks like.
And you think, Well, that doesn't look that, and, you know, it doesn't look that different. It doesn't look that impressive.
And I will tell you, at different times, I've come back to this picture, and I've looked at and I go, No, it all makes sense, you know, from an architectural standpoint that these are all the different components of a really good digital backbone.
And, and, and, and so, I thought I would share that with you. You know, being vulnerable is an important thing as an executive and NASA digital transformation leader.
And I tell you that absolutely, if you look at this and you go down, that actually makes sense, You know, you should have all of these different components.
That's the first step is, this is not a difficult to adopt approach. It's what do you do with this, that's really, really critical. What you do with it is, what comes next.
And that is starting to recognize that, in order for you to make digital transformation efforts, lower cost, faster to market, and more predictable in terms of the outcome. Is, you have to start focusing on enterprise grade capabilities, that you, as the Enterprise architect, as the Chief architect, as the CTO, As the CIO, potentially, that you're going to invest in, so that they can be leveraged over a multitude of different, different, different digital transformations. Because if you don't.
and here's a scenario, you know. A big global organization has even given the difficult economic and socio economic circumstances currently in the pandemic. A large global organization may have big growth ambitions in the future looking to take advantage of in the most positive sense what's going on currently in providing a better customer experience through digital channels, for instance, to their customers.
But, if that journey, to do that, is not built on enterprise grade capabilities, that are either presently there in the company, or are being acquired so that they can scale to potentially, other digital transformation, What you're creating are, basically, an additional set of silo tower's. Per function. Per business unit, per operating unit. Whatever is relevant in your organization.
And what you get is essentially a very siloed architecture, and a very siloed rebuild of legacy, maybe, in the cloud, potentially. But it's going to inhibit your growth agenda.
It is going to not bend the cost curve down for your technology investments, but instead, it's actually going to inhibit your growth potential as a firm, because it becomes so difficult, and it starts to slow everything down.
So that's the idea.
Specific to business value streams and customer journeys. I think that the tough conversation that a lot of us have had is how do we connect a platform investment conversation to business value streams and customer journeys? I'll tell you more about that coming up here. But before we do that, let's do a quick poll question, and, Jose, this is where I'll need your help. The first poll question should show up to the attendees, and it goes, something like this. Does your company have a defined strategy for building out the digital backbone or whatever you call it, in your company, the digital platform capabilities, to support digital transformation initiatives?
Or is it just seeing sort of builds per digital transformation? So, it looks like the poll is open now. And we've made it very binary in terms of answers. So, so it's either a yes or a no.
So go ahead and cast your vote at the poll that's open right now. And I'll give you a few more seconds here so that you have an opportunity to say Yes or No.
10 more seconds, yes or no to this question.
All right, I'm closing the poll right now.
And let's share the results.
And Gustav, I'm not sure if you are able to see this. So, what the results are is that 55% of the audience said yes, and 45% of the audience said no.
All right, sounds good. That helped me tremendously. So, thank you very much. I'm just going to confirm Reconfirm that you can still see my slides after the poll has closed down. Is that correct?
Yes, you look good.
Excellent, perfect. Thank you very much. That really helps me a lot. I'll incorporate some of these poll answers back into the presentation as we go forward. Another thing that I thought I would share with you, now, that you know a little bit more about what I mean by the digital backbone, the other part, is that digital transformation. I can't tell you how many people, It's like, enterprise architecture for anybody you meet. There's a different definition of digital transformation. So I thought what I would do, is I would share with you my mental model that I use for digital transformations to help you put it in the context. These two terms that you may or may not be familiar with, I'm sure this transformation you're familiar with. So this comes out of CED. Now, Gartner, and it's a great way of depicting, I think, different kinds of focus areas for digital transformation. On the left-hand side, you have products, You have sales, and marketing, customer service, and then you have functional and operations.
When I think about the different executives that I work with, I try to figure out where are they at? Are they on the product side in terms of, you know, directly touching the customer with a meaningful, either digital or or, or tangible product?
Are executives in the sales, marketing and customer service area? Are they trying to change a customer experience? Are they trying to reach a customer in a different direction, or in a different way, or are they working for channels potentially, as well, And they're working, one step removed from the customer, or are you the functional areas? Are they trying to improve the employee experience? Are they trying to improve the supply chain? Through, through process automation? Are they trying to do analytics, for instance?
And so on the left-hand side, you can see the enhancement side. So these are different things that are less transformational. They're more ..., they're more incremental in nature. They're still digital in nature, but they're more incremental. And then, on the right-hand side, those are examples of what I think of as real digital transformation opportunity. So launching new products or services beyond the core business portfolios, transforming channels to match customer behaviors and preferences, and making broad investments in one or more corporate function. So these are the ways where you're really digitizing to the core of the function, you're not just doing small, incremental things, like dynamic resource allocation, for instance. So, hopefully, that's, that's useful as well. So, again, when I think about digital transformation, this is the the mental model that I use.
Alright? So, the remainder of the time that we've got, I want to show you then, OK, so, now that we have the digital backbone in place, mentally, we have the digital transformation in place mentally as well. So, what are some ways? And this is based on my experience, and based on conversations that I've had with executives like yourselves, enterprise architecture, CTO, CIO, colleagues, and peers of mine. The idea is, how do you go about building something like this, for the 45% plus this rote memory collection here, I believe was 1545, For the 45% of you who say that, you don't have a strategy just yet, here's a message to begin to do this.
And for the 55% of you who already have something, here's a way to use the strategy and potentially, think of it, rather than having the perfect architectural representation of the Target State. How do you start with the back of the napkin and representation? And then how do you get out there and test it? Iterate on, it. Evolved the vision and consult with the business stakeholders that you may have in different areas to get their sponsorship. So I'll tell you a little story about how that's worked for me.
As I understand it, there's about two different. There's two different ways of building out your your digital capabilities and your platform. The traditional way number one is business use cases. You know, as an IT organization, you get a lot of requests for digitalization of something in one of those three areas from before. You are delivering digital enablers are enabling that particular use case. It's a lot of ad hoc, and the benefit is you get it directly tied to a specific business value, which is, which is great.
It shows that there's interest in this interest in using digital technologies in order to overcome business problems or to accelerate the business solutions and get more value out of them.
It shows that your responses as an IT or technology organization. And if you're following an iterative Agile Scrum methodology, you're likely getting to respond to that particular use case faster.
Lots of drawbacks, right? So risks in terms of integration incompatibilities with your enterprise systems, with data, etcetera. There may be limited re-use, and you may not be able to truly scale it. And as I mentioned before, what you get is sort of a spaghetti architecture. Not ideal. And depending on the size of your organization and how fast you move, you may or may not need reusability in technology capabilities.
But if you are a reasonable size or large size, you're going to want to make sure that if you have these growth ambitions, that you make architectural decisions and investment decisions in capabilities digitally, that you can really rely on for re-use and scale.
The other traditional way is the Technology Foundation. Right, it's, it's what, we're all very familiar with it. We have an IT strategy, and it's going to align to the business strategy, but there's the IT budget for IT. And we're going to decide on how to invest in that. Which means that we're going to do some app migration and that rationalization we're going to do some migration to the Cloud we're going to and you, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. All the kinds of things that are good hygiene for an IT organization. But it doesn't necessarily excite the business stakeholders at the same time. It's a very, you know, IT principles based approach. And I'm sure there's lots of us out there. I will tell you, I've been in the seat as well, I think of it as, you know, when you do IT strategy, you sort of spin your propeller hat, and you come up with some really great technology decisions.
But whether or not they actually fit with the business realities of your organization is is a is a question, and then it's also limited by the IT budget that you may have.
So, so, my recommendation is, you know, a new approach to, to, to, to building out your digital platform. Your data and digital platform is marry the two together, focused on business use cases and focus on the technology foundation. one of the lessons that I learned is that if you put them together and build them in parallel, they'll start to feed each other's prioritization. And through iteratively coat delivering them, it really provides a better combination of showing speed, value, and scale. All at the same time. You might say, well, that's, that's easy, that's easier said than done. Absolutely. No question about it, I'll give you some recommendations. If this is of interest to you, I'll give you some recommendations.
So just depicting it, together, you're basically implementing use cases, and then you're designing and building the supporting technology foundation and the blocks altogether. And what you end up with is essentially a digital business strategy, or enabling that digital business strategy, and you're doing it iteratively, So you're focusing on the minimal viable products along the way. That's a whole separate conversation around how to do that. Iteratively, and I'm sure all of you have different methodologies to use for that, but that's where that methodology part and the skills and talent part of the digital backbone. come back together. All right. We're going to do a second poll questions, and the first one went so well. The second one is, does your company's digital investments focus more on the Business Use Cases and transformations, the digital backbone or the core capabilities or evenly between the two or maybe neater?
So the poll is open. Please go ahead and cast your vote.
Farewell, I'll give you a few more seconds here to cast your vote.
Exxon, I'm closing the poll now.
Sharing the results, and while we have here, the start, is that, since 2% answer as more on business use cases transformations, 29% evenly, 13%, Neither an 8% more on digital backbone.
All right, excellent. I'll just reconfirm that you can now see the presentation again before I move forward.
I always feel that together.
All right, sounds good. Thank you. Thank you very much for that. That is A little surprising to me. I like to 25% of evenly between the two that. That shows that a lot of you are already in this space of investing in both, the 50% In the business use cases, which is, which is great. That means you are likely having some robust and valuable conversations, but he could also be a potential lean towards.
No more of an ad hoc intake mechanism as well. I'll assume that you guys are great, no enterprise architecture, executive, and you're having a really robust and valuable conversations. And the use cases are treated in a way that you're handling them and hopefully deriving some leverage and re-use, and then only 8% on the digital backbone at a little surprising to me. But I can't wait to see some of the questions that may become through as, well. Thank you for for providing me that, that insight.
All right. I wanted to show you, if you build out the digital backbone with, with all the different capabilities, earlier I showed you a different version of it, and it was a little easier on the eye. Given that this is an EA group, I figured, you guys could handle the next level of detail, as well. And so, you, If you've been thinking about the different kinds of technologies, and where would they fit in? This is a representation of where you might put them, but, But I think a reasonable way of representing it as well.
So, if you laid out to your executives, and you said, Look, we are wanting to build the best data and Digital Platform, the best digital backbone that we possibly can for our, for our, our product, or sales, or marketing, or service, are functional partners.
But, what we want to do, is, we want to make sure that we have the best enterprise price, carry capabilities, and then, every time there's a new digital transformation, we can you re-use. those capabilities. Part of it is just visibility. So, if you've been thinking about where with something go, you know, here's a representation of it, that I've used in the past role, of my own.
And, you can see the business value streams there on the top. So, two considerations. So, a question you can ask in terms of making your digital background irrelevant to business executive, or someone who's in the business value stream. Area is, if our aim is to support the audacious No digital goals for the business. Our digital foundation is our digital foundation. Set up to do that, right? So if someone comes to you and asks about engagement for digital transformation initiatives in one of your different business units, operating units, etcetera. Then the question is, there's two things. one is the leverage and re-use opportunity of, Hey, we already have a technology that we can leverage and re-uses.
You don't have to invest, and, in fact, you can just, you know, plugin here, and there's a, there's an investment needed to integrate with it, but we already have it. Or, in other cases, as we'll see shortly, it may be an opportunity, then, to use that investment, not only for that use case, but much more broader. And with a little bit of additional investment, you can actually invest in an enterprise grade capability, like search, for instance, Or, like your, your data and analytics area. It could be in your API management area. There's lots of different areas where you may have a gap, and we'll talk a little bit about how you identify those as well. Consideration, number two is, you probably want to use some way a business, like governance.
This is a way for you to decide not only in IT, but with, with the business stakeholders who are passionate about this idea of building out the digital backbone, enroll them in a business led governance area.
And I can tell you, big area of focus and excitement is around data, data, advanced analytics, et cetera, is one that every business stakeholder wants to get engaged in. So you can create some momentum for your digital backbone in that area.
Again, in my previous experience, my most recent role, that was that was definitely the case.
All right. So with the time that we have remaining, I want to give you some recommendations, different ways that you can now approach this.
First one is, now that you have a back of the napkin version, or maybe you have a fully built out digital backbone, a representation visually of your enterprise grade capabilities, assess those current foundational technology capabilities and assess whether or not they effectively and directly support your key business goals. So, here's a mechanism of scoring, those different capabilities that you might have called out, either by capability name, or actually by technology name in the different areas. And, again, this is something that I've done in my, in my previous role. And what you can do is you can score them and you can say, well, you've identified some capabilities that support at least one area of the business, you found one that spanned several areas of business, but Fall short on the enterprise grade.
So an example of that in my previous role was, we had a CRM solution, for instance, that was really good for one part of our business, but fell short of really being an enterprise grade capability.
So, did we have to remove it and not re-use it? Now, we permitted it as part of the Enterprise Architecture Principles and Standards. We permitted, But the next time someone came and asked, if we had a CRM solution, we made sure that that investment wasn't an enterprise grade. So we didn't have to, you know, basically, to non standards that we invested in the standard second time around. And then they're going to be a lot of capabilities that support your business goals across the entire enterprise, as well. So, different ways of scoring them via the recommendation is, if you're familiar with and comfortable with value streams and customer journey, start to identify as as enterprise architecture leaders. Start to use your knowledge of the value stream, and start to collect information about where are there friction points in that value stream?
Here's the representative value stream that many of you probably are familiar with, either a lead to cache for a cash to collect, something like that as well.
And, so, here are different ways, that, you, as the Enterprise Architect, can go and identify the friction points, talk about how the digital backbone touch points that you have as enterprise grade capabilities, can solve for that as well. And help them prioritize what investments are needed in order for this value stream, to to work more smoothly.
My experience has been that you may have an executive in different parts of the organization, distance units, et cetera, who would say, Well, you know, we can, we can, we can work through a value stream pretty easily, and we can all agree that it's going to work more easily, but in the white space between legal, marketing, sales, You know, other functions like that.
All of a sudden, the exchange between systems or the inner link, between processes, aren't that easy to see. And I think that's where you, as the Enterprise Architect, or you, as the CIO or CTO, can help them with that white space and say, OK, there's some friction points we can remove here because we already have technologies, or we're looking for someone to partner with, to invest in the new one. And what that gives you, then, the third recommendation, is you can map business value streams and identify who to engage with and how to connect their pain points to specific initiatives and capabilities. So, this gives you an opportunity to generate not only sponsorship for a particular investment in the digital backbone to potentially people who'd be really good stewards of the digital backbone in general as well. You can see on the big singing in the Rain fan So my stakeholders here are are connected to that just in case anybody?
there you go.
All right, third poll question, and then we'll wrap up and we're just about out of time. So a third poll question here. So, what is your role in building the digital backbone or digital platform capabilities in your organization? Just love to understand a little bit about the audience as well.
Hopefully you should see the poll.
Please go ahead and cast your votes. We have a few of you already voting.
Option one is IT, CX, all Chief Architect, Enterprise, business sponsor, or other, a few more seconds to cast your vote. What is your role in building the digital backbone?
And that should have been Enterprise Architect. So my, my apologies, So if you're a chief architect or an enterprise architect, that's, that's supposed to be that line.
You got it, now.
We're closing the poll, while not everybody, And I'll share the results. And that, while we have good stuff, is that.
68% had other roles.
OK, we had 29% as Chief Architect and Enterprise, 8% as IT, CXO, and 4% as a business sponsor.
Right, well, we've got a little bit of representation from everybody. All right, again. If I'd love to see the questions that come in after this as well. And, hopefully, that reflect the diversity of different roles as well, so, so, thank you for that. All right, I'll wrap it up here with some Lessons learned. The summary of what we've gone over so far, and then we'll go to questions. All right. So first one is designing a Business Aligned digital backbone. It's a, a way to hypothesize and define a beginning set of enterprise grade capabilities. It's really, should really be all about enabling the enterprises business goals and the growth agenda or the differentiation agenda of your organization.
So, I would start there by figuring out, if you don't already have, what is that set of enterprise business goals, Then start to map your value streams and identify those. Critical stakeholders, we went over that just now, because it helps you identify what are those priority areas.
You use those maps and customer journeys to identify the white spaces, which essentially become your opportunities to find those sponsors for the digital backbone investments, then, you can create a real momentum around the collective digital transformation efforts. You're creating and enrolling a group of individuals who see that, if they are connected in understanding the digital capabilities that you have, then any net new investment that comes through maybe from a difficult stakeholder who wants to have their own sort of siloed architecture. You can use that group of other stakeholders that are good stewards of not only the digital backbone, but also good stewards of making the right decisions for the company. You can use them as partners, in, in, in, and deriving that business led governance in the right direction. And what you'll end up with is, again, a digital backbone.
That is created the right way, iteratively and over time, it'll continue to drive value consistently. You know, from, from an evolving process, you're building this digital backbone over time. Use case and Digital, Foundation, pairwise. And, As you're doing that, you are making the organization more adaptive and flexible to changes because all these different areas of the digital backbone are all going to change and they are progressively changing very quickly. If you're already on a path and having good conversations with, and partnership with your business stakeholders, and their understanding how to leverage things like process automation, digital process automation, or cybersecurity, or data analytics.
You can be much more reactive or proactive, potentially, to technology changes, and you can exploit and leverage them to your advantage, as opposed to the other way around, where you're always sort of feel on the back leg as an enterprise architect. So that's what I've got to share with you today. I hope you found that. Interesting, I'd love to see your questions. And please feel free to reach out after the after today and after the conference as well. Thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. I'm going to keep an eye on all questions coming in here. And we really appreciate you taking the time to share all of that was. one of the first questions that came up why you're doing the prison during the presentation wasn't related to what do you see in the landscape that may have shifted in the courses in the context of the global pandemics and so many businesses are delivering their strategies. What have you seen on the sealed with your clients and organizations, or collaborate with as the major shifts where, when it comes to enterprise architecture?
I think the biggest shifted I've experienced lately has been in it to one is in innovation.
Enterprise architects that I know in the past six months have been further engaged in innovation topics. Not necessarily big, like overly transformational topics, but how can, how can we leverage and re-use the capabilities that we currently have, that we've invested in, but for Novel and new things, such as you've invested heavily in web conferencing technologies? How can we use those web conferencing technology? Is not only just to have meetings, for instance, but how can we leverage them to do other things that we are, we're familiar with in a co located environment.
So I think that that's one area where you're getting into more innovation topics, the Enterprise Architect tends to be the one that has a really good understanding of sort of where all that good, interesting capabilities are used and leveraged, and could potentially be re-used and leveraged. And so, we see CIOs, CTOs, business stakeholders as well, who wanted to figure out, rather than, you know, going through the whole investment process and getting a new capability, is there stuff that we can already use? And then, I would say, the other area is in the advanced analytics space, AI, ML, DL, et cetera. I know, myself, personally, the projects that I'm working on, has been pulled into progressively more and more on an area of advanced analytics, getting, getting an opportunity to really define the front end part of the advanced analytics. Not necessarily even the capabilities on the backend, but how do you use that against business value streams and customer journeys as well. So those are the areas that come to mind.
Excellent. We have we have a question here from ... Curry recess, first, great presentation. These are transformation approach, starts, thank you for your time, in providing or insights. Key question is, can you help us, with any details you can share, on how your operating model is structure. And he mentions, as a commentary on that, is that while we have learned through our struggles and continue to learn, is that traditional operating models will not work effectively.
So the question, again, whatever extent you can share your operating model and how it's structured, absolutely, it's funny, I was just about to build on the digital operating model topic. Because I would say that. that's another area that I'm unfamiliar with, and engaged in, as well.
Yeah. So, the digital operating model, and it's a big topic, and you're welcome to reach out to me with, with, with, with more follow up questions as well. Things that come to mind is, you know, CIOs, CTOs are struggling with trying to figure out how to maintain a steady flow on, you know, legacy investments on big ERP solutions.
And so, for things that are really steady state, and then how can you, at the same time, create a, you know, sort of, a second part of IT that is geared towards almost like purposeful self disruption of your IT operating model allowed to move a little bit faster. And potentially challenge some of your steady state processes. Like your investment process, your release process, your operations process as well. Where all of a sudden, you're building smaller, more nimble teams, where you may have the right roles, but you don't have one person per role. You may have seven people doing the roles of, you know, 16 people, but they're sort of fluid there. They're determining as they go through the process, who does what. And in many cases, they'll do all the support as well. And so, and then the last piece I would say is the whole design sort of the front end part of the design thinking, the UX part, as well.
It is a big part of the digital operating model that I've, that I've had a chance to try to build out, as well. But, again, we could do a whole presentation just on that topic. As well, Feel free to reach out, and I'm happy to share.
Very good. Yeah, It's definitely a very evolved topic. So I have time for one more quick question here. So I'm getting this far from Michael, and Michael asks, How do you, as an Enterprise architect ensure to, on the one hand side, you get noticed and being involved in activities in creating the digital backbone? And on the other side, you don't slow down the activities by getting involved on those things. I think it's a good follow up to what you just talked about, how, you know, between control and then letting control goal? Now is, it's a great question. I think it basically in one question, exemplifies my personal journey over the last 20 years.
And that is, if you will find it very rare that outside of these kinds of environments that I refer to myself as an architect, I try to carry all the principles and practices of the architect with me, but I consider myself almost when I'm when I'm with someone in a, in a functional area. Where I'm sitting with a functional lead, I will put myself mentally in their shoes. I'll put myself mentally in someone who is working with or for them, and, and and tried to change the conversation in that way.
What it does is it does two things. It mentally shifts me out of the need to be fully rigid to all of the Enterprise standards, and it gives me an opportunity to think like them. The other thing it does is it allows me to be more empathetic and it creates that bond with, with, with the business stakeholder as well, and it's done right. And I'll say I have done it right, and I've done it wrong. If done right, You will be asked for what you think during the conversation, even as the IT person, even as the architect person. And what that does is it gives you an opportunity to sometimes agree with the direction that's being taken and sometimes disagree with it as well as long as you do that respectfully. You know.
People, if you build that, that relationship through empathy you can push in ways that other Architects camp as well. So it's, it's a pretty humbling experience when it works, right. But it takes, it takes some practice as well. But it just keeps you and then just remember that you don't have to have the perfect solution. Well, you have to do, is, you have to make the next best decision every day. And, if you do that, you're iterating your way through building the best possible data and digital platform, the digital backbone. And, at the same time, you're responsive to all those use cases. So, yeah, again, we could do a whole presentation just the metadata.
That's right, Gustav. That's a great way of wrapping up our session here. Thank you for your insights for your expertise and in the vulnerability sharing them openly and we really appreciate that.
My pleasure. It's been an honor and a privilege, and I look forward to, you know, future dialog, and please feel free to reach out, and have a great day, everyone, and enjoy the rest of the conference.
Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, this wraps up this segment. And, at the top of the hour, we're going to have another exciting segment with the enterprise leader, soar algae, and Jennifer Hacking is going to lead us through her journey and the organization, and you do not want to miss that. So, leave any comments that you'd like. As you close the session, you have a survey that will pop up that you can provide comments. For those of you who will keep the conversation going on, LinkedIn, afterwards, the links have been provided to you. Leave a comment over there about, about today, and we'll see you back at the top of the hour. Thank you, and Susan.
Former Chief Enterprise Architect Boston Consulting Group,
Gustav Toppenberg is a Digital Transformation Executive and Principal Consultant with Janus Insights, LLC. He is an Enterprise Transformation Executive with 20+ years of experience. His background includes building and leading transformational efforts for both small and global companies with a focus on business, data, and digital domains.
His professional experience includes executive roles in enterprise architecture, Lean Agile product delivery, advanced data & analytics, and M&A at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Catalina Marketing, Aon Plc, and Cisco Systems. His academic experience teaching and as a publishing practitioner includes roles as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago – Quinlan School of Business and as an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley in the areas of advanced analytics/AI, emerging technology, design thinking, and Lean Agile.
He is also a co-author of the recently released book, Architecting Growth in the Digital Era: How to Exploit Enterprise Architecture to Enable Corporate Acquisitions.
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