Enterprise Architecture adoption remains low, CIOs lament
By Goh Thean Eu June 25, 2015
- Most IT industry people don’t have the necessary background
- IT is more complex today, yet users need to understand it more
WHILE many chief information officers (CIOs) understand the importance of having some form of an Enterprise Architecture framework in their organisation, the adoption level remains low.
Only about 10% of the audience (pic above), comprising mostly CIOs, at a panel discussion during the CIO Leaders Summit 2015 in Kuala Lumpur on June 24 raised their hands when asked if their organisation had implemented some form of an Enterprise Architecture.
An Enterprise Architecture is a conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operations of an organisation. It gives CIOs or enterprise architects a holistic view of the company’s IT (information technology) ecosystem.
One of the biggest hurdles for any organisation in employing such a framework is the shortage in the talent pool, said one IT leader.
“First of all, it’s always a challenge to get the right people,” said Malik Murad Ali, IT director at Malaysian retail giant Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd and one of three panellists in the discussion entitled Enterprise Architecture: The Missing Ingredient to CIO Success.
“Graduates and even people in the industry don’t have the background, unless they [industry people] come from the consulting line,” he added.
Former RHB Group chief information officer Andy Tan, who was the panel moderator, concurred.
He said that one of the challenges in the area of talent is that not many people have a wide spread of skill sets. They need to have a capability in, and knowledge of, systems, applications, software and integrated architectures, for example.
“These gaps are usually filled by consultants,” said Tan, who was also formerly the CIO of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Tan said that the low take-up rate was also caused by other factors, with one being “the lack of awareness on the part of management of the importance of an Enterprise Architecture, and how it can make a difference to an organisation.
“I believe that if implemented correctly, it can help organisations improve their operations cost,” he added.
Staving off IT chaos
The two-day CIO Leaders Summit, organised by Media Corp International, revolved around emerging technologies and current challenges CIOs are faced with.
The panel discussion above also included Zurich Services Malaysia chief executive officer Jimmy Yeoh and medical device maker B. Braun’s CIO Rainer Schimpf.
Zurich Services appeared to be the most advanced in its implementation, with Yeoh saying that his company has an Enterprise Architecture framework at both the group and country levels.
At the group level, it has both infrastructure and solutions architects, while at the country level (Malaysia), it has a solutions architect.
Yeoh said that he feels it is essential for an organisation, especially one with a presence in many countries, to have such a framework.
“If someone at the country level wants to do something, or to use some software that is out of the scope [of the Enterprise Architecture], they need to seek approval before they can use it.
“That way, it is well controlled. If every country [subsidiary] uses what it likes to use, it’s going to be quite messy,” Yeoh said.
To each its own
There are a few ‘popular’ Enterprise Architecture frameworks out there that organisations can employ: The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architectures, and the Gartner Methodology among them.
However, B. Braun’s Schimpf is not implementing any of these popular frameworks in his organisation.
“We don’t use any of these [frameworks] because they are very high level and [too] complex to use.
“So we have set up our own framework, which can be done in a simple and easy way. This [framework] is used to see where we have bottlenecks, or where we have gaps which we can improve on,” he told the audience.
As for Mydin, Malik said that his company is moving towards adopting an Enterprise Architecture standard.
“Today, IT is everywhere and it is becoming more complex – users and management need to understand it,” he said.
Malik also said that disaster recovery will play an essential role in an Enterprise Architecture, adding that it has “to be part of the DNA.”
“We need to make sure that IT has to be always working. In case a disaster happens, what do we do?
“In the retail industry, you cannot let the point of sales (POS) go down, you cannot have the loyalty system go down – you will get millions or thousands of customers screaming at you.
“If it is customer-facing, it has to be disaster-proof as much as possible,” Malik said.
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