Gartner has published a new approach to EA – http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1124112 – which identifies seven properties that differentiate ’emergent’ architecture from ‘traditional’ EA. Seems to be all about coordination rather than control, middle-out or bottom-up rather than top-down, light touch rather than methodology-compliant, and (although this isn’t that explicit in the brief summary referenced) people and their behaviours rather than ‘things’. Ref my previous post, I don’t think this is that new from the point of view of EA in HE experience and lessons learned to date – & I reiterate that I think that HE has a particular advantage in coming to EA quite late and being able to adopt a different approach more attuned to the current (future?) environment from the start. My comments on the seven properties below, from an EA in HE point of view:
1. Non-deterministic – In the past, enterprise architects applied centralised decision-making to design outcomes. Using emergent architecture, they instead must decentralise decision-making to enable innovation.
Not sure HE decision-making is that centralised (or even clearly articulated!) anyway, although decentralisation looks like a good idea. Would argue, however, that there are different levels of decision-making and that not all can be decentralised – but should all be collaborative/open for discussion.
2. Autonomous actors – Enterprise architects can no longer control all aspects of architecture as they once did. They must now recognise the broader business ecosystem and devolve control to constituents.
I don’t think ‘control’ is what EA should be about – & in HE I’m sure it shouldn’t be – & I don’t see how EA could work without recognising the broader business system anyway?
3. Rule-bound actors – Where in the past enterprise architects provided detailed design specifications for all aspects of the EA, they must now define a minimal set of rules and enable choice.
Sounds like EA-light, which I think HE have already arrived at.
4. Goal-oriented actors – Previously, the only goals that mattered were the corporate goals but this has now shifted to each constituent acting in their own best interests.
Hmmm – needs a bit of elaboration, whilst can see that there is a need to recognise/integrate with local goals/objectives, this is not the same as each constituent acting in their own best interests, which seems to be going a bit far!
5. Local Influences: Actors are influenced by local interactions and limited information. Feedback within their sphere of communication alters the behaviour of individuals. No individual actor has data about all of an emergent system. EA must increasingly coordinate.
Well, yes – makes sense.
6. Dynamic or Adaptive Systems: The system (the individual actors as well as the environment) changes over time. EA must design emergent systems sense and respond to changes in their environment.
Seems fairly obvious.
7. Resource-Constrained Environment: An environment of abundance does not enable emergence; rather, the scarcity of resources drives emergence.
If this means that EA becomes more important in a time of constrained resources – understanding/making the best of what you’ve got – then go for it