Architecting enterprises

Enterprise Architecture (EA) as a field is still relatively unknown to the region. Tamás Nacsák, chief enterprise architect at HP’s EDS subsidiary and Peter Lakhegyi, regional sales manager for EA specialist AAM Technologies, clarify the field with Imthishan Giado.

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Architecting enterprises NACSÁK: Companies select people who are good in technology, but not so good in this kind of communication.
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By  Imthishan Giado Published  October 11, 2009 Arabian Computer News Logo

How would you define enterprise architecture?

Tamás Nacsák (TN):  Enterprise architecture (EA) is not really new but a different view about the enterprise. The real difference for me is that EA is a structured view of the kind of the knowledge that you have about an enterprise. Typically, enterprises work like an organic thing with different relationships between people.

These are typically unstructured - and unfortunately, from a scientific view, when something is unstructured we cannot control it or modify it. EA gives us that kind of structured view. We can then measure it, control it, and develop it.

What does your role involve?

TN: The first is technical, leading this activity to collect information about the applications and the databases. The other is to be Mr. Worf - if something is new and strange, I should be there to solve it or find those people who have the experience to come up with a solution.

This part is more interesting than the technical part, but it's much more political - you cannot tell what will happen in the next day. But in the enterprise, I see that it's a very important role. If you like to find new ways of doing things, in every case, you will be in an unexpected place.

Is it difficult to identify people on the client side who can help you to make change?

TN: To have someone who potentially will support you is simple. But to make them give the support - that's not so simple. Each person has his or her own job and then we have to somehow utilise their resources. You can find those who have experiences, and then you can filter out those without free resources, and that's a more difficult step.

IT is often seen as a cost centre. Does EA deliver better value?

TN: It should help, but it's still not clear how it does so. If a manager concentrates on the cost, they won't recognise the values. You can show them how many things they have delivered, but they complain that the cost is still 100 instead of 90. What we have to, in my opinion, is change the management mindset. Certainly they should focus on the costs - they really have to.

But the cost reduction won't lead you to success - except if you have good strategy supporting the cost reduction. For example, WalMart had a very big cost reduction in logistics. This cannot be the only success that they had. They had other business strategies and they focused on the cost cutting because they supported the strategy. If we have a business strategy to deliver later on, then we should focus on the cost cutting and see if it's supporting it or not.

When you meet with customers, do you mainly focus on the cost cutting elements of EA - or do you prefer to look at the overall picture?

TN: First I like to give them a picture about EA. If you are asking about cost, what's the net present value of EA? On the income side, I typically cannot show anything which can prove that it wouldn't happen if I wasn't there. The sales strategy of EA is to show them what kind of information they have. To be more precise, what kind of data they have - because information is subjective, not objective. Something may be informative to you, but to me it's nothing, just data and vice versa. If I can show them a set of data that I can collect and serve, then I can find the kind of information that's important for them. Then later on, we can discuss how much money we want to spend. Then they will know what they will use it for and we can compare the costs.

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