Adapt or die in information age – global I.T guru

United Arab Emirates: Monday, May 30 - 2005 @ 09:40

The warning comes from John Zachman, a household name in the global Information community, an authority on enterprise engineering and originator of the acclaimed ‘Framework for Enterprise Architecture’ which has attracted worldwide praise.

Zachman began work in the early days of information strategy in the 1960s.
He spent 26 years at IBM and is credited with helping shape their strategy methodology and executive team planning techniques.

Few are more qualified to assess the results of half-a-century of Information System management and John Zachman does not pull his punches:
“What is the condition in which many enterprises find themselves today after 50 years of building automated systems out of context?”, he asks.

“They have a large inventory of current systems – unintegrated, not supporting the enterprise, consuming enormous amounts of resources for maintenance and, yet, they are far too costly to replace.

“As a matter of fact, the inventory of existing systems has come to be referred to as ‘the legacy’, a kind of albatross around the neck of the organization – a penalty to be paid for the mistakes of the past”.

Zachman has evolved a system which can end such waste, saving organizations “untold amounts of money and time”. It is a theme to be explored during his Dubai seminar ‘Enterprise Architecture – A Framework for Information Management and Enterprise Change’ at Knowledge Village on June 18-19.

Zachman’s Dubai seminar is a rare Middle East appearance and a coup for the organizers, IRM UK. Often described as one of the world’s leading IT gurus, Zachman himself says he is “not very technical at all – and Enterprise Architecture is not a technical issue.

“There is no technical barrier to doing Enterprise Architecture. It simply requires work. If an organization builds the asset base which reduces the cost of managing complex functions by an order of magnitude, they will make a formidable competitor”.

In layman’s terms, Enterprise Architecture is a tool which provides a bridge between the strategy of an organization – its overall aims – and implementation of these aims. EA is central to the ability of an organization to produce quality and timely results and to manage change in complex products.

Explains Zachman: “Enterprise Architecture is a set of descriptive representations that describe an enterprise – just like construction architecture is a set of descriptive representations that are relevant for a describing a building.

“If you want to create something that is so complex you can’t remember all the details at one time, you have to write the details down. If you can’t describe something, you can’t create it. It is the same for buildings, locomotives, automobiles, super-computers or airplanes.

“The Framework itself is a generic classification scheme for design artifacts. In designing and building complex objects, there are simply too many relationships to consider simultaneously. However, isolating sub-sets of components and making design decisions out of context can endanger the integrity of the overall intention”.

Enterprise Architecture, says Zachman, is beneficial for anyone who cares about how well their enterprise works and for anyone who cares about changing it. “If there is no Enterprise Architecture, the likelihood is that the enterprise is not working very efficiently and it will be difficult, risky or costly to change.

“Enterprise Architecture saves a lot of money in the long term but not in the traditional way. It is not an ‘expense’, replacing a set of high costs with another set of costs which are lower over a certain accounting period.

It is an asset on the balance sheet that is engineered to be used over and over again – literally forever – saving untold amounts of money and time”.

Zachman draws an important line between Enterprise Architecture and Information Systems Technology. “I am not minimizing the importance of the technology but, nevertheless, the technology is only the ‘container’. The real challenge is the contents.

“If you are not careful what you put into the container, you might get some short-term savings through automation but you are not likely to realize the long-term benefits of integration, reusability, flexibility, reduced time-to-market, quality alignment etc. Those require Enterprise Architecture.

“Only this will enable an enterprise to assimilate internal changes in response to the external dynamics and uncertainties of the Information Age.

It not only constitutes a baseline for managing change but also provides the mechanism by which the reality of the enterprise and its systems can be aligned with management intentions”.

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Monday, May 30- 2005 @ 9:40 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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