Translating Business to Enterprise Architecture: Methodology Activity #1

Converting Business definition to an enabling Enterprise Architecture is not a direct mapping.  Business definitions do not neatly fit into a structural taxonomy that most Enterprise Architects use.  Business definitions do not fare well in process oriented ontologies either.  The nature of business definitions is, as social constructs, these entities are multi-dimensional.  Thus any attempt to document has often met with gaps in perception that appear based upon the orientation of the modeler.  If you’re a structural focused, dynamics are missed.  If you’re process focused you might miss structures or goals.   The Zachman Framework, givens insight to this issue.  However, the establish linkage between on cell to another with the same robustness as in mechanical design has eluded the field for two decades.  While there have been attempts as creating production rules to project from one cell to another, the linkage and visualization has still to be accomplished.  This is not a failure of the framework, but of the representation systems we have at present.  The situation only gets worse as we move down the hierarchy from owner to builder the framework.

 Added to this lack of dimensional integrity between representations systems are the differences in language constructs at each level.  The structures and dynamics at each layer and within each dimension are substantially different due to context.   This until a unified representation system can be developed translation and design will always require human intervention to interpret and unify.  This inconsistency acknowledged a team can still overcome the effects of this situation.  This first activity addresses some of the intermediate forms to translate between the hierarchy levels previously identified in the framework. 

 At the Owner level, the common business model representations used have typically been based on those developed by Michael Porter or Adrian Slywotzky.  These models represent business activities on a broad scale and despite the author’s clear definitions, have merged activities and the organizational structures that accomplish these as a single construct. The Michael Porter models define how an enterprise competes in the world.

Adrian Slywotzky’s model describes how an enterprise creates and captures value within the business world.

Converting these constructs into I.T. Infrastructure Designs is rather significant challenges as the gap between these concepts are not direct translations.  Therefore Enterprise Architects should focus on intermediate forms that bridge these gaps.  One intermediate form that bridges this gap is defining capabilities.  During the late 1990s and early 2000s a method call Strategic Capabilities Network was introduced.  This technique has staff define and relate capabilities to the activities and functions used the business models most corporations use.  These capabilities are closer in concepts to the processes and applications that I.T. Architects use.  Thus mapping between functions and applications through a capabilities network provides a semantically rich association that can be discussed with business owners enabling them to understand how the I.T. Architecture will enable the functions needed to fulfill strategy.