In 2010, when I wrote the Elemental Links tagline, “Technology Insights for Business Enthusiasts”, some of my trusted associates pushed back, telling me that I need to lead with TECHNOLOGY. But, here’s the thing. In the enterprise, from which I came and continue to serve, a technology-first mindset leads to disdain.
Contrary to the hyperbole of the technology press, analysts, pundits and product marketers, true, enduring, information technology success begins with a business-first mindset, which includes constant context checks.
Now, it would be fair to slap a (micro) pundit label on me, so what follows are snippets from three business-first technology executives, excerpted from this week’s WSJ:
“What directors really value in a CIO is sound strategic thinking and a great ability to execute, says Gambale, a former CIO at Merrill Lynch, Bankers Trust, and Alex Brown, and former partner at Deutsche Bank Capital.”
“We never start with technologies; we always look at trends in the world that are or may be having an impact on the future of our business. One example is the acceleration of innovation to market. Consumers and users want one-on-one connections to any service or product they interact with, so we have to respond. This is thoroughly changing the way we operate—the always-on, instant nature of interaction today.
We look at those megatrends and forces to see which ones will truly impact our business. Then we go look at what strategies we can devise to take advantage of those trends. The final step is evaluating which technologies can enable those strategies. The value is how we enable this dramatic change through technology.
Every three years or so, we review our strategies. Three years ago we focused on the idea of visualization. We have visualized data across the entire company. Everything we do is visual. This transforms the way the business performs because it creates what I call “information democracy.” There are no more layers. The discussions we are having are much more robust.”
“We’re truly guided by these big arcs of change [analytics, cloud computing, emerging markets and “smarter planet] that we believe in,” Rometty said. “They lend context and clarity. When you run a big company, context and clarity mean a lot.”
It is naive to believe one can, or should, blueprint an enterprise. An enterprise is a complex system that must continually, adapt to survive and thrive.
For any system to sustain, shift, and grow, over time, it requires energies (accelerants), efficiencies, connectors (& disconnectors), and means to remove waste.
Enterprise architecture should focus its attention on fortifying these core functions of the enterprise system, via the infusion of intellectual and digital capability.
Enterprise architecture should capacitate fluidity, not rigidity.
On May 1 — while sacrificing yet another shirt to a hotel iron — I had an epiphany of sorts, which I immediately tweeted:
“Legacy isn’t the big IT problem. Entrenchment is. Entrenched investments, mindsets, skills, business process & information wiring. -me, now”
Shortly afterwards, I followed up with:
“what we have isn’t a technology problem, it’s a thinking problem.”
Based on the huge (positive) response from the community on twitter, I shared that I was inspired to elaborate my tweets to an Entrenchment essay.
So far though, the time for long-form thinking and writing alludes me. [Not to mention good hotel irons].
In the interim, I’ve been tweeting under an #entrenchment hashtag, and more recently, scribbling entrenchment bursts.
Convincing myself these bursts could be considered micro-essays, I’m going to share them on elemental links, under a new entrenchment category.
Someday, they may evolve into a cohesive essay, or daresay something longer. But for now, I’m going micro.
I hope they provoke some re-thinking. Feedback encouraged.
Series starts with On enterprise blueprinting