Enterprise Continuum as a part of TOGAF helps innovating at intersections fun…


What is common with Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg both of them have being huge successes in what they offered to the world. They stand for make a dent in the Universe and yes they did it. If you see both of them they did play at intersections and ended up disrupting more than one industry. Steve Jobs combined design and technology and made owing hardware akin to buy vintage art or jewelry. Before him people had given up on hardware which was not good looking and aesthetic, he created awe inspiring products by combining design and technology. Similar is Facebook which combines social and technology to have connected almost all of the world.

Like wise it is when it play at intersections you have multiple opportunities of disrupting more than one field. Likewise when you see many fintech start-ups they are all playing at various intersections.

You have banking intersecting payments.

Payments intersecting retails

Payments intersecting travel

Payments intersecting eCommerce

Loan industry intersecting real estate

CRM industry intersecting credit card industry

Hospitality industry intersects Banking

The list is endless and the possibilities are very many. Playing at intersections has more than one advantage as you are exposed to ideas which flower and cross pollinate when they collide with other ideas and give birth to fresh new design and offerings. This is not possible when you work in isolation in one area. Most often these work best when not compartmentalized in siloed states , they need a continuum or an ecosystem where all people involved in the value chain to the end customer are brought on the same table and it can lead to fusion and myriad colour all coming together.

Enterprise Continuum from the Open Group is one such initiative that aims at connecting the buyer, seller and the internal teams of a value chain together if you were to look at it from Michael Porters famous value chain. This continuum has enabled many an industry to stay connected with their entire ecosystem such as partners , sellers and their own teams delivering on many mandates. One such example of how this would work in practice would be let’s take the example of a Salesforce team which has many partners that it is depended on it and all such information relevant and shareable to both parties will be made available. This means all that can be shared preserving all IP and NDA issues shall be made seamlessly available to both connected parties across the board with the same level of understanding in taxonomy and jargons which bring all parties in an engagement on the same level. The Enterprise Continuum takes this further and extends it to have internal teams , partners and vendors all on this connected platform. Once this clarity is there in the ecosystem it becomes easy to build, integrate, brainstorm, enhance or do anything is required for the moment. This might sound utopian but if implemented well with the support of a visionary leader, it has the power to transform most issues arising out of working in silos across industries.

Dow went from being a Inorganic company to being an Organic Company to being a plastics company to being a food company. These are not simple transformations or transitions. Now they are embracing the culture of innovating at intersections at the intersections of material science , biological science and physics.

Why Enterprise Continuum of TOGAF Amidst Of All This Talk of Innovation ?


Enterprise Continuum from the Open Group is quote “The Enterprise Continuum provides methods for classifying architecture and solution artifacts, both internal and external to the Architecture Repository, as they evolve from generic Foundation Architectures to Organization-Specific Architectures.”.

In short the above diagram shows how a company can go about organizing its organization artifacts from generic to specific. The more you move towards foundation architectures it would be generic and the more one moves towards the right towards organization specific architectures you narrow down the scope and genericity. The diagram has both architectural and solution assets which allows for abstraction from logical to physical which is fundamental to good architectural work. As you can see a company or organization can starts it journey by beginning with Foundation Architectures and move towards Common Systems Architecture where you have narrowed down your architecture from blue sky generic architecture where the scope of building the most generic architecture is toned down to concentrating on the core domain de-scoping the operating systems and network architecture portions of the same. Now you focus on the industry that you are working on and store industry specific architecture in the industry architecture section. Let’s say you are a developing a banking software then all the other industries that you closely work with such as CRM , Payments , Retail , Financial Services, regulatory services, credit cards will find a place in the industry architecture section. But your focus in the year one of architecture / product development shall be only on building banking software which happens to your core focus area. Again you as a company keeping adding features to your core product, you will refer back to the industry specific architectures to add differentiators in your core product. When you are marrying a core banking product with a payments feature then you potentially refer to the industry specific architectures section of your enterprise continuum and then pick the relevant architectures and go about building your feature. Now this is a value add that Enterprise Continuum brings to the table where you as an organization developing a product also refers to architectures specific to your industry and this can help you in innovating at intersections.

Have such an integrated concept for knowledge and artifacts managements can go a long way in helping a company with innovation at intersections. This means you can work along side product, industry boundaries and if done well you are poised to disrupting more than one industry. Enterprise Continuum also can be created for your specific needs and reflects your journey and what artifacts you as an organization is interested in and help you go back and forth and exploit potential innovation that can happen at boundaries.

Open Group has a extension of this concept where industry specific artifacts for oil and gas, telecom, mining, supply chain are available and companies can become members and look at what is of interest to them by being part of the community and benefit from the same.

They say it is fun “Innovating at Intersections” Enterprise Continuum of TOGAF has an answer to this.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the same.


There are no Pit Stops In Enterprise Transformations really ?


IT Transformation , Digital Transformation , Keeping Your Lights ON while you make changes to your bread winner applications in the Enterprise, move certain others to the cloud, rework on your SMAC strategy, going digital, change your tires while your speeding Enterprise needs to overhaul itself at the same time needs to keep moving and least not loose time at a pit stop.While all of these sound easy to write about but when faced with the challenge of turning your enterprise around , you need a mindset, culture , appropriate tools, talented people who understand the nuances of the change , tools required and how to go about it.

Firstly Mindset : You need to know that people need to change the way they think about the they are standing on a burning bridge with water beneath if you were to borrow a line from the Nokia chief’s mail to its employees. Unless people perceive it this way change is difficult to force it down their throats. Fluidity in all process and people boundaries such that people can reach out and interact with folks across their immediate process lines. This needs a mindset change which can happen when their is strong management support towards moving away from silos and encouraging decentralization.

Be Proactive ALWAYS – Look at the windscreen and not often at the rear view mirror

Usual mindset is look at time, money , resources and progress once you have finished your product or solution. Instead create a pro active process measurement and improvement dashboard where you are measuring everything while moving instead of reflecting when it is all over. This is process independent and no matter which agile methodology you use or which project / process framework you are currently executing. The idea to embed metrics in your journey can be right from the beginning where you look at

1. Review all internal process.

2. Requirements stability

3. Change Management processes

4. Your speed of execution , ability to close projects / activities within time and budget.

5. What market forces are currently influencing your product / solution.

Once you start improving these factors then your outcomes or business results follow on account of these steps or measures.

Tools at the Pitstop

One of the ways to capture these would be to implement a balanced scorecard.

Digital flexibility: 

This key skill would mean how often are you ready to change gears midway and skill / re-skill yourselves when you hit transformation roadblocks.

Integrated Operations data : Ability to respond to complex process data and act on them in real time when transformation is underway.

Experimentation and POC hotbeds : Ability to rapidly experiment test beds where simultaneous low cost fail fast experiments and proof of concepts can be carried out and more importantly reduce the cost of failure.

Data driven decision making : Put check and capture data of all kinds which can be useful to driving change and arrive at decision based on those.

Eliminate , Eliminate all kinds of communication barriers across teams. How do you stop one . Meet review and action on the points that are found as causing delays. Delays can be anything from waiting for snacks in queue in the evening to not getting appropriate sign-offs in time. Teams working on agile communicating with non agile or semi agile waterfall teams can slow things down. Use your own process tailoring to get across these barriers.

Promote quicker decision making using the following concept decentralize implementation and centralize interoperability

Wiping the dust off the screen , spare tires and everything in between.Re work on your strategy when there is a downtime .

What to do when others are racing as hard as you as well.

1. Remember what you are transforming is not only a technology issue and see it is as a business problem and technology is a leverage. Most often companies do not learn

2.  Always eat a part of the pie instead of full fledged transformation on all cylinders. It is nice to say we are changing the whole machinery while the vehicle is moving instead it is better to change the parts one at a time. It is not easy in a large transformation program but things become much easy to test waters when strategy is broken down to segment and then to the solution level. Let’s say 5 competing product lines are ready for transformation and then out of them only 3 are handpicked for transformation , then out of these 3 pick 10 % functionality and iterate and continue this till you can increase your velocity.

3. Get people to meet the change agents often instead of hanging organization change mandates across the hallway, coffee stations , places where your resources spend most time. Else they end up being fodder for light banter during coffee breaks. Strategy should be de-centralized and no one person’s or team’s prerogative to succeed. And communicate , live them day in and day out instead of them being poster board material.

4. Setup innovation and design thinking workshops across the length and breadth of the organization for people to go about doing there jobs with more fun and independence at what they are doing. Do this when during happy days and not so happy days in the company. Make this part of your core routines then it becomes easy to flex think and act nimble.

This is not the full list of course would love to hear from you on what points went to your refueling enterprise journeys.

Image credit : pixabay

Applying Design Thinking for Product Rollouts.


All companies have a lot of issues /problem with their product roll-outs or solution delivery mechanisms. Let’s look at how product roll-out issues can be addressed and how design thinking can be used at various stages to help it get to a well-oiled devops machinery where roll-outs are just another day to day affair.

The old school way of approaching to solve would be to define the problem and then try and solve it. Identify what the problem is and then solve it as it is said “A problem identified and defined in most certainly problem solved”.

What does Design thinking tell us? There is no one way of defining a problem and it needs to be looked at its entirety in the complete ecosystem that it manifests or resides and offer holistic solutions around that. It is multi-pronged approach as opposed to find it define it fix it and get over with it. The earlier approach involves straight jacketing the problem into a pre-defined way and then narrows the team into thinking it is limited in its scope and offer solutions around them. This is the reason why solutions although can be cleared off a product management bug tracking list shall not wow the customer or help create awesome products in future.

Learn from anyone and everyone involved in the product roll-out

Whom to involve in this process to get a full rounded perspective of everything that this issue stands for. Since the above one is related to product install and deploy the below mentioned folks can be looked at for brain storming sessions. Involve people from engineering, architecture and also include/take his opinion the courier boy who delivers the tape cut to the deployment folks as well if it applies to your scenario. Involve everyone related and not related as well idea there are no stupid ideas only things that we learn from.

Product managers , domain experts ,developers,architects,QA team, release team, actual users on location, customer end points, production sites at site remote local global and involved in deployment and rolling out patches. Talk to everyone and anyone who could be remotely connected to the issue and whose perspectives can help.

Empathize with team involved in roll-outs, internal and external

Many have pain points , bad UI experience many have database issues, script issues and so on, some of the install tool features need a UI training and are not intuitive enough, some have pre install / post deployment issues, in short it not how the user would have liked to use and see them done.

How can design thinking help here?

To arrive at what can iron out the pain points ask the following questions

  1. What is ? Product roll-outs what is it
  2. What if ? What if we can bundled it all in one piece.
  3. What wows ? One click end to end install – Ideal State
  4. What works ? What is doable in this quarter ?

Define what issues are there in your product roll-out

Let’s say you have all these problems / issues laundry list with you. Now your next level of brainstorming would be to create options or alternatives on how you can make the world a better place for the customer by ticking the bucket list of issues with alternative solutions. There could be more than one alternative for an issue.

Ideate around the various approaches

For an easy and effortless deployment / install of the product pain point, the solutions / alternatives could be as follows

  1. One click install which will explode the entire product in the relevant tree / directory structure.
  1. Create a single war / tar of your product directory.
  1. Pre-populate all your static data in configuration files and provisions to load them into the database during install.
  1. Auto run all the initial SQL seed data by means of a trigger or stored procedure.

Now we see all of the above can be the options for solving one pain point which came out when we created our laundry list. Ideally this can happen as a result of having a design thinking workshop or huddle where one and all concerned are invited and stick their pain points around post it notes.

Now the most important points while tailoring solutions under the context and culture of the end user/customer/roll-out team that you are trying to solve the problem for and more importantly EMPHATHIZE with them. What works best is think you are the one who will actually be using the system. Drive this mind-set in the team. When a group of people think on these lines you shall be amazed at the perspectives that come out. Before you lose all these different suggestions click the post it notes on the whiteboard with a camera and save it for consumption as and when you need refocus on the issues.

All of this produces qualitative data which can then be used to arrive at stories.

Capturing Product Roll-out Stories

Document scenarios where roll-outs have failed and under what conditions and complete the story board with who the actors involved were.

For example the roll-out happened when most of the support staff was on party etc.

Roll-out was not complete as the sys ops person did not have enough admin rights to restore the tape etc.

Weed Out / Flush your Idea board

Weed out ideas from your idea board that lack a wow factor and concentrate only on the top 5 or 6 concerns to start with.

Rapid Prototyping

Row towards the shore like you’re going to run out of fuel anytime and eventually focus your efforts towards building a working model.

Create solutions / stories on which of these solutions shall you apply in create hot beds to prototype solutions around them. Create quick and rapid prototypes of the solutions where it is easy to turnaround if things do not go around fine. Look for the ones which results in a compelling experience.

Test out your prototypes in the Real world

Run the prototypes through multiple test beds and more so in the real production scenarios and quickly run through the results by eliciting feedback with the larger team. Refine Refine Refine and put the feedback /results into the product effectively and action them till you have a product that resonates with the customer well.

Have a product that people fall in love with instead of creating just another product for people.

Why do DBAs sit in a office corner and other IT’s best kept secrets….?



“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself. – George Orwell, 1984″ 

With no offence meant to DBA’s or other IT folks mentioned in this piece would like to put across a few of IT’s best kept secrets on the table. It is nice to have them as secrets but why bring it out. It might help someone somewhere to think about it and use this secret for their own good once they know it is a well guarded secret and getting around the secret is actually going to help decision makers circumvent these issues and find solutions to them.

Here is revealing some of the secrets as always somethings were always meant to be a secret and hence they shall not be part of the list here 🙂

1. All technology decisions are made when people concur amongst themselves instead of a great product or solution influencing the outcome.

2. Implementation problems are not your problems once you ship software.

3. The more open the architecture the more complex it can get.

4. If software testing is so difficult, demanding and challenging, then why is it
that we keep on assigning the least skilled or experienced to perform it?

5. Why do DBAs always sit in a corner or in a nomans land and not accessible to most meetings where their key inputs are needed. Applicable not just to DBAs but to all IT folks who have a say in matters and are not accessible during key organization huddles.

6. The security at the gate checks for what you steal out in pen drives and not the grey matter in your head. IP protection needs more full proofing.

7. Hardware perfectly working software does not work. Typical of people stuck chasing delivery deadlines.

8. SMAC rhymes with SMACK ( negative tone to it ) and hence third platform is better.

9. The dirtier the surrounding better the software , great products were created in garages remember. The formal looking office with great furniture can only produce dot releases and not an earth shattering product.

10. Freemium is a way to get more customers to play with your product but they shall not influence the market sustainability in terms of revenue.

11. IBM pays an undisclosed amount of money to Oracle to use the Java TM on IBM JVMs.

12. POCs always beat many a technical arguments. Always a working piece of software trumps arguments about this way or that way. At Facebook this has been the way forward when stuck in a dead end on this v/s that.

13. Public cloud for where you store your private data ( individual level ) and private cloud where you store public data ( company level / storing data of a large group of people) . This has been the norm cloud security can change this.

14. People do not care about privacy enough instead of saying the opposite. That is the reason why all of us have all our private data on public cloud. Emails , pictures , rants , likes , dislikes and six degrees of separation.

15. Many companies take the same client out for dinner and drinks twice. This happens when they do not streamline and minimize conflicting product lines.

16. Google knows a lot more about people and companies than what glassdoor or others forums or your friends can reveal.

17. Sysadmins and QA teams have more camaraderie than other folks in IT among themselves.

18.  If something is offered free to you as a customer then you are no longer the customer but the product itself.

19. Fixed price project on Agile was not feasible until recently. Things could have changed.

21. CMMI has dispensations and you can bypass any of your stringent processes as long your end customer is fine with it.

22. Guys who work on UI are more outgoing and extroverted than the ones working on Kernel / compiler design.

23. A startup CEO life is short lived once it gets acquired and becomes a VP in the acquired entity and is on his way out to another true calling.

24. If you want to stop a product or project from funding delays ask its ROI from the beginning . This is a sure stop way to projects from being executed.

25.  Business IT disconnect is still the hardest thing to do as there are no good men out there you decently understand both.

26. All corporate extravaganzas are inherently unhealthy .Throw pizzas out if you want to celebrate instead order fresh fruits and herbal tea. May not go well with people who are used to junk food.

27. Do not talk of innovation or design thinking unless the revenue has taken a downturn in companies .

This is not an complete list of secrets but is nevertheless has some points to think about to bring in solutions to the above list that can turn enterprises and organizations into fine well oiled machinery. #turnITaround…

“It is wise not to seek a secret, and honest not to reveal one. – William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude”

US Library of Congress – Knowledge Management Where are you in your Organization’s journey ?



The US Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries where knowledge of most facets of humanity such as arts, science , astronomy , folklore, traditions , math,architecture etal is stored and preserved over years. This has survived many a century or two as we march in the 21st century and is a laudable effort in knowledge management by any standards. When you want an organization to be built that it wants built to last kind of foundations then it is imperative that the knowledge management surrounding it should be quite solid and future looking.

Knowledge management is an essential component to the Enterprise transformation exercise. The reason being if you are not sure where you currently are then it is not possible to go where you want to go ? It is like having a blueprint of what artifacts you have on your product portfolio and get to know how they all fit in.

Knowledge is like data in a database and management often would how you would manage the data and give meaningful information around it. Knowledge management would be about easy retrieval of information which would mean that you have to a good job of configuration management system around it this is a given and true of all configuration management systems.

Typically in an organization knowledge management would involve storing design documents, code , configurations , tar/war files and all such information that is useful to them and would need to retook at them from time to time.But most often in companies you have people asking around saying do we have an RFP to respond to that client request. Do we have an reference architecture document that would help us is not reinventing the wheel and respond to the client from a similar geography without having to go through specific region specific customization needs. What this means that all of this promotes for greater reuse and reduction of rework and help more better time of an organization’s time and resources.

Do you know what all can be stored in an Organization’s repository ?

1. Industry Standards Information

2. Internal Standards Document

3. Project Closure Documents

4. Governance Log Details

5. Artifacts of all kinds in a company ( code , docs ( SRS , user stories (if you are an agile shop ), architecture specs , business process docs, diagrams,matrices,catalogs)

6. Solution Specific Artifacts

7. Reference Architecture models for the product or service that you are positioning yourself.If you are new to reference architecture then here is a link to a video explaining the same.

8. Have you ever thought of linking this knowledge base to the extent that the information sharing makes sense to your client , partners and vendors ecosystem giving all the IP protection , NDA etal in place.

This is exactly what enterprise continuum in TOGAF paves way for and help an organization create a knowledge ecosystem that will help organization make faster procurement decisions, buy v/s build decisions and simply provide for agility during business transformations.Enterprise Continuum in TOGAF is a concept that has provisions for all of the above and is indicative of how an enterprise should structure its assets if you want to thrive in the knowledge economy. If you know what you have well then you can go ahead and add / subtract the features needed. Most companies at times think it is an overhead along with their day to day run the business model to keep their knowledge base updated.

Most often unit / organization heads have this moment of ground shifting from under their feet when asked “How are we go from this product to the next version of the product?” or “What is the effort involved in getting this product multi currency enabled?. These questions become much easier to answer if you have a strong knowledge management practice. These facts cannot be gathered on their finger tips but with working towards a culture where the knowledge within the company is available to one and all and most important easily structured and retrievable would decide how good it is at business agility and moving ahead.

Image Credit : wiki