Friday, November 09, 2007

Being Inspired

Sometime back one of my ex-colleagues Arjan Dewan recommended a book titled "Inspiration" by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. I not a great fan of self help books, hence approached the book with some trepidation.  Reading the book I came across following passage from an ancient Vedantic text by Patanjali penned around 2000 years back; it describes is almost the same as what most programmers experience as being in the zone.

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be." 

I have experienced this feeling sometime back, waiting to be inspired again..................

Sunday, October 21, 2007

SOA Security

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a 128-page guide to help organizations understand the security challenges of Web services in service-oriented architecture. Download link

Issues addressed in the publication include:

  • Confidentiality and integrity of data transmitted via Web services protocols.
  • Functional integrity of the Web services requiring the establishment of trust between services.
  • Availability in the face of denial-of-service attacks that exploit vulnerabilities unique to Web service technologies.

Web site dedicated to Service Oriented Security

California Enterprise Architecture Program issues SOA Security White Paper

Free SOA Security E-Book

BPM and Security from James McGovern

Colin White on SOA Security and reuse

Most of these are courtesy of Garry E. Smith

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Unifying Process Framework

The UPF is a business framework that is generic to businesses and applies across all sectors commercial and public. It is naturally used by IT where it is part of a business, or by IT if it operates in a market where it is servicing a number of businesses on a commercial basis.

Article 1 - 'The IT Management Status Quo and 5 Year Challenge'
Article 2 - 'Concepts of a Unified Framework and Mapping Existing IT Frameworks'
Article 3 - 'Mapping IT Governance and the IT Value Chain onto a Unified Framework'
Article 4 - 'End to End Service Management: A Case Study'

Article 5 - 'The UPF Support Dimension'
Article 6 - 'The UPF Enabling Dimension'

Article 7 - 'UPF 'The Way Forward''

Business Model or Operating Model

Recently on one of EA online discussions the concept of Business Model vs Operating Model was explored. I just wanted to use this post as a way to summaries the thinking for my own use.

Chris Potts view on components of operating model

  •  Key operational performance ratio(s) - usually only one or two primary ones from which everything else cascades
  • Core financial structure - P&L, new investments and cash flow
  • Distribution of accountabilities and competencies - e.g. product versus geography
  • Organisation - capability areas, not actual roles
  • Processes and knowledge (as one composite framework, not two separate ones)
    Systems and technologies

Following reasons why an Organisation might want to invest in Operating Model.

  •  To provide input to their plans for investing in change
  • To help figure out why their current operations are underperforming
  • To decide how best to integrate a new acquisition
  • If a company is planning to change its business model, to compare current and intended operating models and expose the impacts and costs of the change 
  • When the company is scenario planning its business model, to explore the operating impacts of different scenarios and therefore help assess their relative merits

There are some schools of thought out there to define the Business Model as a construct following are links to some of them.

If you take a Value Chain or Process Viewpoint following links might help.

There is a Business Model Design template from Arvetica that is helpful when starting the journey.


The only challenge with this model is it does not give a lot of weight to Market Architecture which is Chris Potts speciality and I am eager to find out :-)

MIT Sloan has published some material on Business Models and they describe the same as "what a company does and how they make money from doing it". They then classify it using 16 Archetypes more info here the concept can be downloaded from the following location working paper.

Lets not forget the book "Enterprise Architecture as Strategy" which started the whole discussion. It defines the business model as following types.

  •  Replication - Few shared customers with highly variable product design. Example is a holding company that has a set of companies in related businesses. An example might be a company that owns auto dealerships, auto financing, and auto parts stores.
  • Coordination -  Shared customers with highly customized products, services, and features. A wealth management firm is a good example. They sell a set of services such as financial planning, insurance, and estate planning. Each of those services is provided by different companies but there is a high degree of sharing customer information. The services are coordinated by a single representative.
  • Replication - Few shared customers with operationally similar product units. This is the franchise model. (McDonalds)
  • Unification - Consistent product design and globally integrated processes for all customers. (Dow Chemical Example)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Web Services Security and Federated Identity Authentication

Sometime back [circa 2004] I had written a paper on the above topic the link is attached. It is more for my benefit than anyone else, such that I can find the file quickly :-). Any comments welcome.

Web service security

Friday, June 15, 2007

Business Architecture Kick Start

Ever wanted to get a quick overview of business functions in an organisation SAP have done a great job with their Business Maps; worth checking out

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Service Oriented Network Architecture (SONA)

Not that we did not have enough acronyms to confuse us CISCO goes ahead and creates another one. I was doing some background research on an article published by the CIO magazine "The Rise of Service-Oriented IT and the Birth of Infrastructure as a Service", when I came across SONA. Quick search on CISCO website showed standard marketing hype and nothing more CISCO SONA Stuff . What I was looking for was some sort of reference architecture on how CISCO saw all this working. I like the concept just that so far it appears like a half baked stuff created by marketing.

From a concept point of view if the network can become application aware, for example in a branch office if the link goes down the network can cache till head office comeback on line and things like that will be a big boost for SOA as application then don't have to worry about implementation of reliable messaging and so on.

If anyone has more info on SONA or Infrastructure as a Service I would be really happy to hear it.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Business Process Architecture and SOA

Recently I had the pleasure of presenting at the BTELL Conference on Business Process Management on the topic of Business Process Architecture and SOA. Fortunately the talk was well received and did raise interesting point. Subsequently the organizers have asked me to come back and give a similar talk with more architectural focus at their upcoming Enterprise Architecture Conference. For those of you who missed the earlier conference should try and make it to this one. It is well worth a look and quite a few industry leaders in the EA space will be there. Check out the web site at this URL 

If you do decide to make it do look me up.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Changing of the guard

For the past couple of years everyone from Gartner to Harvard Business Review has been talking about corporate agility, where lack of the same can kill organisations. Following In the IT press SOA has been promised at the panacea for all the ills and somehow delivering the ultimate agility to the organisations. All this hype got me thinking about why there is so much demand for agile organisations.

From an Organizational history point of view large organisations (from banks to car manufacturers) where able to mass produce goods at a higher quality and lower price point than there smaller competitors (mom and pop shops). For many years this was a great thing and lots of small businesses either became bigger or absorbed into lager organisations and some went belly up.

With the advent of Internet, and efficient global logistics (UPS, FedEx and so on) cost of advertising and distribution dropped and world became flatter. Consumers got fed up with mass produced items (there are only so many IKEA coffee tables you could buy) and started to look for customize products. They wanted something different, something tailored to their needs (home loans tailored to their needs, furniture customized to their flat). An entire market emerged to satisfy this trend and slowly it is becoming the norm rather than the exception. In such a market large organisations are asked to produce items with greater variety and lower quantity per batch. Such a shift does require some fundamental shift in thinking and many organisations have successfully made the transition.

In such a rapidly changing environment large organisations finding there huge investment in IT infrastructure preventing them to move rapidly. IT investment which once was a competitive advantage for these organisations is proving to be a disadvantage, smaller competition with no legacy infrastructure or lumbering mainframes to support are able to adapt to the changing consumers needs at a much faster rate. The question that emerges is what value IT really adds to an organisation’s revenue or profitability. McKinsey recently did a study in Europe where they looked how much value IT spends was adding to the bottom line of the organisations. The graphics below is straight out of their report and I am including it without their permission for which I apologize.


From the study two things were found;

  • IT spending varied between 10 to 30 percent of operating costs.
  • Higher levels of IT spending didn't increase the effectiveness or efficiency of the business (banks that appear to get the most business value from IT spend up to 40 percent less than the weakest performers).

The four quadrants above represented following aspects of IT spend.

  • Effective business enablers, achieve the greatest business efficiency and effectiveness, from a relatively low level of IT spending.
  • High IT spenders pay out about 13% of their operating revenue on IT but don’t see the desired impact on business efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Heavy IT transformers, spend about 15 % of their operating revenue on IT, mainly for specific business transformation projects.
  • Efficient IT executors spend just 10% of their operating revenue on IT but haven't achieved a high level of operating efficiency.

The above study if definitely interesting as I then wanted to compare how Australian Banks would fare in such a scenario, banks are interesting as they are quite intensive users of IT and have made significant investment in the same for past couple of years.

The challenge was finding the right information as I did not know anyone in the banking industry. The journey started by gathering publicly available information I.e. Annual Report which outlined how much they spent of IT or Communications. Mind you as I am no Balance Sheet expert, I may have well got my figures mixed up (at least I would have them consistently mixed up). Following graph is a summary of what I found.

The above figures are based on 2005 annual reports and represent a total IT spend of AUD $3.5 Billion of AUD $24.4 Billion operating expense. One thing that emerges is Australians don’t spend nearly as much compared to their European Competition. Commonwealth Bank and Westpac both have large outsourcing models in place, hence have a limited discretionary spending. Bank of Queensland may appear to be out there, which could be due to their large BPO contract which gets added in as an IT cost. A word of caution at this point please do not fall into the simplistic metrics trap as the figures don't really represent business value being added by IT, I am using it as a mechanism to compare entities and if their size has any relation to money they spend on IT.

If we look at the above numbers from an innovation perspective it appears large IT spend does not guarantee innovation. Smaller players like Bendigo Bank are able to offer services like two factor authentication for their web client while the bigger ends are still struggling. In the last couple of months innovation has become the buzz word and everyone is looking to IT for innovative ideas that will transform the business.

The question then emerges is innovation the domain of big players with huge R&D budgets or can smaller players outmaneuver their bigger rivals. History has proved otherwise smaller startup have been able to innovate and bring new products to market and capture a bigger slice of the market. Other have been able to open up totally new markets where none existed before Google and YouTube are prime example. If smaller players can be more adaptive and innovative  will it change the model of corporations as we know it. Will this mean we are going to see smaller more nimble players banding together and forming virtual entities yet retaining their autonomous sub parts? ...........till next time.