As I alluded to earlier this year, my research, writing, and field work interests, bolstered by positive community response, signaled an impending change for me. It was time to accelerate the articulation, evangelism and practice of business-drivenarchitecture:
Business-Driven Architecture is my view of architecture, developed on the premise that architecture is not an end, but a means, and the business must drive architecture composition.
I believe the most viable, agile architectures will be comprised of a blend of architecture strategies, including (but not limited to) service-oriented architecture,event-driven architecture, process-based architecture, federated information, enterprise integration and open source adoption. How you blend, depends on your business.
In Business-Driven Architecture, enterprise architects are not only responsible for articulating the architecture, but also for actualizing the architecture, and introducing the architecture into IT business projects.
Business-Driven Architecture has a strong bias to action, business opportunity, and project and portfolio advancement.
The question I pondered the last several months was ‘How’. How could I increase my focus on business-driven architecture, continue to write on relevant business, architecture and technology topics, spend time in the field with practitioners
and providers, and pay the bills?
The answer brings me to today’s post. In early June, I left my position at the Patricia Seybold Group to devote my full attention to building Elemental Links, Inc. and furthering my work on business-driven architecture.
Before I delve into Elemental Links, I want to thank Patty for supporting my plans, and being the first Elemental Links business ecosystem affiliate. (more on that later).
And now, in the remainder of this post, I’m pleased to officially introduce Elemental Links, Inc.
What is Elemental Links?
Elemental Links is an IT consulting and advisory practice specializing in strategy, architecture, and portfolio planning for business-driven IT.
What is the Founder Thinking?
While the one-liner is important to express what and who, I think clients, prospects, and community members are also interested in understanding the business design principles. What is the architectural premise? What influences the
principal’s decisions on business interactions, product and service offerings, research agenda, and engagements?
What follows is my thinking in framing Elemental Links. My premise is simple:
Content and relationships are the foundation of a business. A business with relationship oriented principles (accessibility, relevance, collaboration and transparency) and execution can be profitable, even when, or perhaps because, good content is provided freely.
Stated in terms of my business design principles:
Elemental Links is relevant, accessible, collaborative, transparent and profitable.
Expanding on each design principle:
Elemental Links is Relevant:
- Grounded in Reality. Research and advice is relevant in the real-world. Insights are delivered with a healthy dose of pragmatism. Advice is actionable.
- Business-Driven. Research emphasizes business-driven IT. Advice pertains to client’s business.
- On Topic. Research agenda, client engagements, and community participation relate to business-driven architecture.
Elemental Links is Accessible:
- Content. Content is consumable. Good content is provided freely.
- Interactions. Easy to reach. Receptive to provider and enterprise briefings. Simple to engage: No subscriptions. No advisory relationship prerequisites.
- Investment. For purchase products and services are reasonably priced.
Elemental Links is Collaborative:
- Clients. Collaboration is the key to client engagement success. Elemental Links will augment, not displace, client team.
- Community. Elemental Links will contribute to formal and informal communities in areas of interest to business-driven architecture and business-driven IT.
- Partners. No single individual or business has all the answers. Elemental Links will create, and participate in, business affiliate ecosystems for some content co-creation, community outreach, and engagement delivery.
Elemental Links is Transparent:
- Economic Interest Disclosure. Writings and conversations pertaining to technology, solution or service providers in which Elemental Links, or Brenda Michelson, has an economic interest (client, direct equity position) will include disclosures.
- Funding Disclosure. Any sponsor funding received for topical or practitioner research pieces will be prominently, and repeatedly, disclosed. No sponsor funding will be accepted for product or vendor research pieces.
- Yet Protective. Transparency practices will not infringe on client and community privacy, nor violate non-disclosure agreements. Clients requesting anonymity will not be mentioned in writings or conversations.
Elemental Links is Profitable:
- Fair Profit. For accessibility to work – free access to good content – there must be a supporting revenue stream.
- Client Priority. Client project priorities may result in periods of “blog silence”. Better silence than noise.
What are Elemental Links’ Products and Services?
Initially, Elemental Links is offering one class of product (research) and two broad classes of services (advisory and consulting). All offerings were created using the business design principles above. Creating the
advisory and consulting services was straightforward. Not so for the research model.
In deciding on the right research model (channel, content and funding) for Elemental Links, I considered the importance of relevant, good content, the accessibility and collaboration afforded by blogging (web 2.0), the depth and packaging of formal research, reader behaviors, the time investment, the funding options, the credibility issues, and of course, my writing preferences and capacity.
Blog Research Funding
Elemental Links, and the occasional sidebar ad click, fund the creation and distribution of all original blog based content.
Formal Research Funding
Since formal research pieces require a substantial time investment, outside funding will be required. The funding options are driven by the content, as follows.
For topical or practitioner pieces, Elemental Links will accept sponsor funding for research time and/or distribution. With sponsor funding, the piece will be distributed freely to the public. Without sponsor funding, the piece will be sold at a reasonable price for individual or group use. Examples of topical pieces are here, here, here, here and here.
To safeguard against sponsor influence, the agreement for research and distribution funding includes a pre-publication escape clause. If the sponsoring company finds the resulting piece to conflict with its views, they can cancel distribution
For product or vendor pieces, Elemental Links will not accept sponsor funding. These pieces will be sold at a reasonable price for individual or group use. Examples of vendor and product pieces are here, here, here and here.
Syndicated Research Funding
Elemental Links funds the creation (research time) for all syndicated pieces. Distribution funding is provided by the syndicate. Only finalized (as-is) research pieces are offered for syndication.
All research will adhere to the transparency design principles for economic interest disclosure and funding disclosure (see above).
The Elemental Links Research Model is outlined in the following tables:
Advisory and Consulting Services
Clients can engage with Elemental Links via an advisory relationship, or a consulting engagement. Both services are offered to enterprises and providers (technology, solution, service). Areas of specialization
are strategy, architecture, business-driven architecture, product positioning, technical communications, and portfolio planning.
For clients requiring ongoing assistance for a loosely defined set of activities, Elemental Links offers an advisory service. The advisory service is a retainer relationship, available in 10 hour increments.
Examples of enterprise advisory relationship activities include: facilitation, input, review, collaboration, mentoring, or education, in the areas of strategy, architecture or portfolio planning.
Examples of provider advisory relationship activities include: input, review, or collaboration, on product positioning or technical communications, and customer outreach activities.
For clients requiring specific assistance, Elemental Links offers consulting services. Consulting engagements have defined scopes, activities and deliverables. Engagements can be as short as half a day, or as long as half a year.
Examples of enterprise consulting engagements include: strategy and architecture articulation, roadmap creation, roadmap activity execution, portfolio planning, workshops, awareness talks, and training.
Examples of provider consulting engagements include: customer outreach activities, technical communications planning and development, architecture program development, product and service requirements, product and service positioning, and customer insight gathering and analysis.
New clients and assignments are welcome for the Fall.
For more information on Elemental Links, please leave a comment, or contact me.