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]

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.

Monday Aug 06, 2012

Sequestration Planning May Illuminate Value Engineering via Enterprise Architecture

 The next 5 months portend a spectacle of US Congressional battles to be waged ahead of the pending, mandatory “sequester” - automatic, mandatory federal government spending reductions of about $1 Trillion over 9 years, in non-exempt, discretionary appropriations, set to take effect 1/2/2013. Forward-thinking planners in government IT organizations, in large Programs that depend upon IT, and among the Systems Integration (SI) community are likely to dust off Enterprise Architecture skills for analyzing budget cut implications across their IT investment portfolios, and possible cost savings opportunities to offset them. Leveraging a methodical, EA-guided approach to both assess impacts and adjust spending priorities, while illuminating new areas of savings, is a sure route to mitigating serious risks and delays to delivery of critical citizen services.

Whether you’re dusting off the existing EA artifacts, or need to take a very rapid, optimized route to constructing initial enterprise IT models, the driving principle at this time will be rapid, absolute reduction in complexity with a clear line-of-sight to cost savings. “Complexity” here simply refers to an inefficient or needlessly detailed volume of time and resources applied to deliver IT solutions – time spent re-engineering processes, building redundant interfaces and monitors, installing hardware & software in a piecemeal fashion.

Driving complexity, and therefore introducing cost savings, out of engineered systems is the central tenet of “Value Engineering”  – “the optimization of a system’s outputs by crafting a mix of performance (function) and costs”. Essentially, deliver the same capabilities with better value by driving down the cost to build and/or operate. Section 52.248-1 of the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) describes the “Value Engineering Clause” that is inserted into many large Federal IT contracts – enabling the contractor to propose changes to the system being developed (i.e. a “Value Engineering Change Proposal”, or VECP). If the proposal is accepted, the actual or collateral savings derived by the government (through cost modification to the contract) can be shared with the contractor. It’s a win-win opportunity for the government, system beneficiaries and the contractor community to discover and propose engineering changes that will lower costs, yet still deliver the same or better results.

Many VECPs are submitted for technology assets – i.e. contained systems that may work better when newer, less-costly components are substituted…like missile systems or electronic devices. This may be because the contractor typically is the sole source of knowledge and research concerning how to optimize and build the components, the “value” and function of the asset is very clear (i.e. it’s delivered and explodes on target) and constant innovation is a demand of the environment. VECPs are also submitted for IT systems and programs, though it’s much more difficult to identify and propose the specific cost savings or cost avoidance that might result – since IT systems are frequently dependent upon many external or interfaced elements, vendor products and processes.

An EA-centric review of a program or line-of-business IT investment may quickly yield insight that would lead to specific value engineering opportunities, and therefore reductions in IT costs. For example, a particular set of information may be created, shared and recreated across several systems, using different processes, datastores and technologies. An segmented EA approach driving down from the particular business, process and information domains, may quickly illuminate targets of opportunity for database or interface consolidation – and therefore potential consolidation of supporting technologies (i.e. storage, networking, processors). This may lead to optimized technical operations and business process performance, which can be clearly mapped back to the Enterprise Architecture to validate that governance and mission requirements are (still) met, cross-enterprise risks are mitigated, and IT investment portfolios and procurement activities are properly adjusted or re-aligned.

With this kind of information, a VECP could be constructed that very clearly proposes both program-specific and collateral (i.e. across the rest of the enterprise) savings resulting from introduction of state-of-the-art consolidating technologies (for example, pre-integrated, self-contained and consolidated database engineered systems, perhaps cloud-enabled). At the very least, an EA view can help identify and prioritize targets of opportunity for Value Engineering that may become part of an effective and timely sequestration response – both before and after such an event, and in fact as part of the annual capital planning and investment control (CPIC) processes.

About

Public Sector Enterprise Strategy Team
This blog is written and maintained by the Oracle Public Sector Enterprise Strategy Team. We are a team of 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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