Wednesday Jun 22, 2016

Digital Health, Marketing & Analytics in Northern Virginia, DC

The recent Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) Healthcare Informatics & Analytics Conference, at the Inova Center for Personalized Health, was a huge success. Oracle's own David Dworzczyk (Ph.D.) - representing the Oracle Health Sciences business, generated enthusiasm and interest in how big data and analytics focus is becoming embedded as part of the entire health sciences ecosystem, from pharma trials and policy, to healthcare delivery and genomics research.

[Read More]

Friday Jan 29, 2016

Big Data & Analytics in Northern Virginia, DC Area

Big Data, Analytics & Data Science are taking off as regional economic development catalysts - and outcomes - around the world, and particularly so here (DC/MD/Northern Virginia) in what some call the "Big Data Capital" of the US (given the proximity and engagement of so many commercial, federal/state government, nonprofit and startup organizations in this field). Here are a couple of examples, of activities going on in the area.[Read More]

Thursday Aug 13, 2015

DATA Act IT Infrastructure - Platform Consolidation, Virtualization & Collaborative Governance as Change Enablers

Momentum and activity regarding the Data Act is gathering steam, and off to a great start. Reaching the 2017/2018 milestones, however, will require IT infrastructure change. Some change may be simple or take advantage of existing modernization efforts; much change will be very difficult, complex and/or costly. Strategies to prepare for this change, and catalyze it, are not yet part of the government-led discussion - but they are now part of the industry-led discussion, per this new Executive Report from ACT-IAC, co-authored by Oracle: "The DATA Act – IT Infrastructure Guidance Change Facilitation for IT Departments".[Read More]

Wednesday Mar 04, 2015

All Data as a Service (DaaS/BDaaS) - Who's Your D-a-a-S Enabler?

There are three primary and distinct roles to consider, whether you're building or buying DaaS - regardless of the type or characteristics of data that's being exchanged; big data, open data, fast data, IoT/IoE data, metadata, microdata, multimedia content, structured, non-structured, semi-structured...ALL DATA.

The DaaS Consumer - who needs not only to acquire data from somewhere (in a way that shields them from the underlying technology concerns), but also then may use it to develop information apps and services, or repackage the data to share further with others.  The consumer assigns and realizes value from the service.

The DaaS Provider - who actually builds, markets and operates the business service and categorized storefront (or catalog), and brokers or stewards the data quality & availability, data rights, licenses and usage agreements between the consumers and the original data owners.  The provider creates, shapes and deploys the opportunities for value-enablement of specific data assets.

IT Services Management  - who design, implement and operate the information and data management infrastructure the DaaS Provider relies upon - and manage the IT component and services portfolio this infrastructure includes. For example the databases, virtualization technologies, data access services, storage and middleware capabilities. (Note that "IT Services Management" may be a wholly 3rd-party role, as well as a role within the DaaS Consumer or Provider organizations - there may be 3 or more IT Services Management domains).

There's also a less distinct, more broadly relevant role - the DaaS Enabler. a.k.a. the "Enterprise Architect", which can be a person, a role, or an organizational capability. The EA scope includes a heavy focus on enterprise "universal" information management and governance, infused (particularly in the Public Sector) with the currently vogue philosophies of SOA, Open Data, Mobility, Privacy-by-Design (PbD) and Cloud Computing. (Note that DaaS does not have to be delivered via a "cloud" deployment model - it's equally-applicable delivered as a private data services virtualization platform, for example).

[Read More]

Friday Jan 23, 2015

Public Sector Digital Strategy Meets Public Safety - in Northern Virginia, Fairfax County

The Northern Virginia Technology Council's (NVTC) Digital Strategy Committee (#nvtcdigstrat) recent event regarding Digital Strategy and Public Safety, featuring Richard R. Bowers - Chief, Fairfax Fire Department - revealed several very interesting and useful challenges for the NOVA business community.

Not least of which was the current challenges around focused, resourced digital strategy planning across the County constituent agencies, and among local jurisdictions.

Many targeted capabilities and improvements in "front-end" digital tools, outreach and engagement, plus initiatives on the "back-end" to handle system-specific data and information management are certainly underway, but information-sharing among the public safety stakeholders - businesses, government and the public - remains a strategic planning, governance and education hurdle to address. In other words, a B2G2C digital strategy challenge.

[Read More]

Tuesday Sep 02, 2014

US Regional, Metropolitan Area Public Sector "Open Data" Synergies, Opportunities, Challenges

Current dialogue among the leadership and constituents of the Federal, Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) regional “Open Data” government community have shed new light on the challenges and opportunities that individual jurisdictions face (not just around DC), in establishing Open Data capabilities and services – both public-facing, and as part of the inward-facing “information sharing” context within their own agencies.  Open Data is also a very different conversation, when held at a purely local level, vs. statewide or across an entire metropolitan region.[Read More]

Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

Public Sector Open Data via Information Sharing and Enterprise Architecture

Recent government policies and public demand for open data is rapidly exposing both opportunities and challenges within government information-sharing environments, behind the firewall - in turn a fantastic opportunity and challenge for the Enterprise Architects and Data Management organizations.

[Read More]

Friday Oct 25, 2013

Hybrid IT or Cloud Initiative – a Perfect Enterprise Architecture Maturation Opportunity

All too often in the growth and maturation of Enterprise Architecture initiatives, the effort stalls or is delayed due to lack of “applied traction”. By this, I mean the EA activities - whether targeted towards compliance, risk mitigation or value opportunity propositions – may not be attached to measurable, active, visible projects that could advance and prove the value of EA. EA doesn’t work by itself, in a vacuum, without collaborative engagement and a means of proving usefulness. A critical vehicle to this proof is successful orchestration and use of assets and investment resources to meet a high-profile business objective – i.e. a successful project.[Read More]

Wednesday Jul 24, 2013

The Chief Marketing Technology Officer - CMTO - and the EA

The Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO) is recently an often-proposed role, that combines the interactive marketing savvy and experience of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and the traditional information technology operations, management and investment knowledge of a CIO or CTO. More and more often, digital marketing requirements of an organization need a healthy integration of both marketing and IT skills. A good deal of the CMTO/CMO's "enterprise" scope to address is actually outside of their organization, i.e. dealing with Internet-based services, tools or 3rd-party sourced data and information.  This expanded, external scope can effectively, and should be addressed by the Enterprise Architect.[Read More]

Tuesday Jul 16, 2013

What is culture and how does it affect the practice of Enterprise Architecture?

As Architects we often spend countless hours working toward delivering great artifacts, including a future state, current state and roadmap to assist our customers in developing a vision and plan toward transformation or maturity. This work is often completed and finds its place on the CIO’s bookshelf or the Lead Architect’s desk with little action or even a second look. Why is this work not actively embraced by many organizations beyond the IT walls or even within the IT organization?

Don’t misunderstand my position, I believe all of the work completed during an iterative EA process that outputs the artifacts I mentioned above add value, although if the organization is not “culturally” ready to embrace the work and transform then the effort is for not.

Culture is defined in many ways by many scholars, although I find it easiest to define culture as interactions and relationships between members of an organization or unit within that organization. This assumes there is an organizational culture and sub cultures within that organization. With this said, it is important that we as architects focus on the overarching organizational culture to better understand whether our customers are ready for an EA engagement.

Our first priority is to ensure we are engaged with the highest level of sponsorship within the organization. For instance, developing physical architectures with the platform division does not constitute Enterprise Architecture, but rather a Technical Architecture and will only have an effect on that sub culture within the organization. EAs need to ensure they are seated alongside the CIO, CFO, COO or even the Chief Executive to ensure efforts toward cultural transformation can be enabled via strong sponsorship.

In the public sector this can be a difficult task as most executives are focused on business related practices and often see the CIO and vendors as “IT focused.” It is critical for our communication during initial contact to be business focused. Conversations about technology are not held until key items, like capability modeling, guiding principles and governance structures are embraced by the organization as a result of cultural change. Once these cultural elements are embraced and socialized technology decisions will be easily facilitated with little debate or power struggles. Remember, the “sponsor” understands how important organizational transformation is at this point in the evolution and will help sub groups understand the vision. Communication and vision are critical elements at this point in the journey toward transformation.

Once we have commitment from the sponsor it is critical for the sponsor to understand the partnership needed between the EA Team and Executive Team. The EA Team is not chartered with creating mission, vision, strategy etc. but rather with understanding the Executive Team’s goals and objectives for the organization and aligning the technology investments with these goals and objectives. Every investment decision made is a direct representation of how the organization’s culture is manifesting itself physically.

Monday Jun 03, 2013

An Integrated Electronic Health Record Needs Enterprise Architecture for Communicating Separation of Concerns

Achieving true progress in creating integrated AND interoperable electronic healthcare management and information systems is very much a real-world, current-day Enterprise Architecture (EA) challenge - and it starts with "separating the business and technical concerns" using standardized EA methods, vocabularies and reusable assets. The manner in which the challenges are communicated, in particular, would benefit all stakeholders and acquisition managers. [Read More]

Monday Apr 08, 2013

Launching an Enterprise Architecture Program within State, Local, Municipal Organizations

When launching a formal EA program, Government organizations often begin by socializing the overall benefits of EA and developing an EA Charter and Plan.  However, while both of these are valuable, they are more useful as part of after-the-fact documentation and communication plans.  Having worked with a broad spectrum of state, local and municipal government organizations across the US and Canada, our team, Oracle's Public Sector Enterprise Strategy Team (EST), has found that the first and primary focus in launching an EA program should be on how to meaningfully engage top business leaders and other stakeholders to discover their needs, identify what would bring the most value to the organization, and obtain their buy-in and support for EA as a key enabler in helping the organization achieve its mission objectives. 

[Read More]

Thursday Mar 14, 2013

An Agile Enterprise Architecture (EA) Delivers Critical Business and Mission Agility

An agile approach to Enterprise Architecture is entirely possible within the formal Oracle Enterprise Architecture Framework - and is essential for business and mission agility within tough and constrained budget contexts.[Read More]

Tuesday Dec 04, 2012

Selling Federal Enterprise Architecture (EA)

Selling the concept and value of an Enterprise Architecture program within the Federal Government requires a marketing and communications strategy that's guided by a reusable taxonomy of subjects to be addressed.[Read More]

Wednesday Sep 05, 2012

Create a Social Community of Trust Along With Your Federal Digital Services Governance

The Digital Services Governance Recommendations were recently released, supporting the US Federal Government's Digital Government Strategy Milestone Action #4.2 to establish agency-wide governance structures for developing and delivering digital services.

Graphic showing the layers of digital services (information, platform, and presentation) built on a platform of security and privacy and delivering to final customers.

Figure 1 - From: "Digital Services Governance Recommendations"

While extremely important from a policy and procedure perspective within an Agency's information management and communications enterprise, these recommendations only very lightly reference perhaps the most important success enabler - the "Trusted Community" required for ultimate usefulness of the services delivered. By "ultimate usefulness", I mean the collection of public, transparent properties around government information and digital services that include social trust and validation, social reach, expert respect, and comparative, standard measures of relative value. In other words, do the digital services meet expectations of the public, social media ecosystem (people AND machines)?

A rigid governance framework, controlling by rules, policies and roles the creation and dissemination of digital services may meet the expectations of direct end-users and most stakeholders - including the agency information stewards and security officers. All others who may share comments about the services, write about them, swap or review extracts, repackage, visualize or otherwise repurpose the output for use in entirely unanticipated, social ways - these "stakeholders" will not be governed, but may observe guidance generated by a "Trusted Community". As recognized members of the trusted community, these stakeholders may ultimately define the right scope and detail of governance that all other users might observe, promoting and refining the usefulness of the government product as the social ecosystem expects.

So, as part of an agency-centric governance framework, it's advised that a flexible governance model be created for stewarding a "Community of Trust" around the digital services. The first steps follow the approach outlined in the Recommendations:

Step 1: Gather a Core Team

In addition to the roles and responsibilities described, perhaps a set of characteristics and responsibilities can be developed for the "Trusted Community Steward/Advocate" - i.e. a person or team who (a) are entirely cognizant of and respected within the external social media communities, and (b) are trusted both within the agency and outside as practical, responsible, non-partisan communicators of useful information. The may seem like a standard Agency PR/Outreach team role - but often an agency or stakeholder subject matter expert with a public, active social persona works even better.

Step 2: Assess What You Have

In addition to existing, agency or stakeholder decision-making bodies and assets, it's important to take a PR/Marketing view of the social ecosystem. How visible are the services across the social channels utilized by current or desired constituents of your agency? What's the online reputation of your agency and perhaps the service(s)? Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a facet of external communications/publishing lifecycles? Who are the public champions, instigators, value-adders for the digital services, or perhaps just influential "communicators" (i.e. with no stake in the game)? You're essentially assessing your market and social presence, and identifying the actors (including your own agency employees) in the existing community of trust.

Step 3: Determine What You Want

The evolving Community of Trust will most readily absorb, support and provide feedback regarding "Core Principles" (Element B of the "six essential elements of a digital services governance structure") shared by your Agency, and obviously play a large, though probably very unstructured part in Element D "Stakeholder Input and Participation". Plan for this, and seek input from the social media community with respect to performance metrics - these should be geared around the outcome and growth of the trusted communities actions. How big and active is this community? What's the influential reach of this community with respect to particular messaging or campaigns generated by the Agency? What's the referral rate TO your digital services, FROM channels owned or operated by members of this community? (this requires governance with respect to content generation inclusive of "markers" or "tags").

At this point, while your Agency proceeds with steps 4 ("Build/Validate the Governance Structure") and 5 ("Share, Review, Upgrade"), the Community of Trust might as well just get going, and start adding value and usefulness to the existing conversations, existing data services - loosely though directionally-stewarded by your trusted advocate(s).

Why is this an "Enterprise Architecture" topic? Because it's increasingly apparent that a Public Service "Enterprise" is not wholly contained within Agency facilities, firewalls and job titles - it's also manifested in actual, perceived or representative forms outside the walls, on the social Internet. An Agency's EA model and resulting investments both facilitate and are impacted by the "Social Enterprise". At Oracle, we're very active both within our Enterprise and outside, helping foster social architectures that enable truly useful public services, digital or otherwise.


This blog is written and maintained by the Oracle Public Sector Enterprise Architecture & Strategy Community. We are senior Enterprise Architects across Canada and the United States dedicated to helping public sector customers use the discipline of enterprise architecture to turn strategy into successful execution.


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