Philip Allega

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Philip Allega
Research VP
12 years at Gartner
27 years IT industry

Philip Allega is a research vice president responsible for teaching, coaching and critiquing Gartner's clients to help them realize the value of enterprise architecture as a strategic discipline. Read Full Bio

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The Rhetoric of “EA is Dead” is Dead: EA has Arrived at the Leadership Table

by Philip Allega  |  October 12, 2010  |  2 Comments

In Gartner’s recent report, IT Metrics: Office of the CIO Staffing Report, 2010 , we noted that:

The top-ranked function employed or implemented within the OCIO (Office of the CIO) is enterprise architecture, with 76% of respondents reporting a full-time equivalent (FTE) response to this role

So, why so much angst over whether EA is “dead”?  Well, the use of the term “dead” in relation to a practice, a cultural trend (say, like blogging) is a rhetorical device meant to draw attention to symptoms of demise and re-birth.  I used this device myself in my blog entitled, “John Zachman is Dead, Long Live John Zachman” in which I explored the current state of affairs in the case of the Zachman brand seeking to re-assert itself in the market place.  The use of such rhetoric is certain to gain attention and allow the author to present a case for something ending and beginning at the same time.  Think “Phoenix Rising from the Ashes” when considering how this rhetorical device allows various pundits to pontificate the end of something known as EA and the beginning of something with a new title.  I always think of this as “putting lipstick on the pig” (English idiom alert: this means to make something ugly look pretty) or I think of the recording artist Prince and his period of time when he was known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince“, or the much used “TAFKAP”.

Adam Deane employed this device in his recent blog, “Enterprise Architecture: Time of Death“, in which he humorously attempts to make fun of various pundits call that EA has somehow disappeared from the IT and business landscape.  Indeed, he includes my use of this rhetorical device when I wrote about the concerns with the Zachman brand.

However, it is clear to Gartner that the role of EA is not “dead”.  It has, instead, just found its seat at the IT leadership table.  Indeed, in some survey’s we have seen results ranging from 5-12% of participants noting that EA has a seat at the business leadership table.  The question now is, now that you have a seat at the leadership table, what will you do?

EA programs have been asking for a seat at the table for many years and our 2010 survey shows that they are here.  Now that you are here, and you are alive and kicking:

  • How will you deliver business value? 
  • What will your key results be for your EA program?
  • How will you know if you are successful?
  • What will you contribute, minimally, to the leadership of the IT organization?

These are the questions we hear from our clients everyday.  We recognize that many see the definition of EA as a “kitchen sink” (English idiom alert: meaning a place in which everything that fits can be collected).  We hear from our clients that each EA program must qualify what they mean by EA today, for their organization, and for their stakeholders. 

We know that the scope and focus of EA programs shift over time as they mature from focusing upon discrete IT assets and standards to unifying business and IT operating models.  We know that the impact of EA programs changes over time based upon the needs and expectation of the business leadership team.  We know that EA programs constantly re-new and shape themselves to support these changing expectations.

We know, for a fact, that EA programs have finally arrived in a leadership position within their IT organizations.  Certainly, they vary in scope, focus, and impact; but, they are here. 

Perhaps it is the rhetorical device that, in this case, should be retired.

Now, what you will you do with your living, breathing, EA program that will make a difference to your organization?

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