John Gøtze interviews Philip Allega, VP, Gartner Group.
VP, Gartner Group
Philip Allega is a Research Vice President responsible for teaching, coaching, and critiquing Gartner’s clients to help them realize the business value of engaging in enterprise architecture as a strategic discipline. Mr. Allega covers the processes and deliverables that support IT planning and administration (for example, enterprise architecture, enterprise program management, governance, IT portfolio management, and IT strategy and planning). His practical advice concerning IT investments and management processes is sought by senior IT leadership teams in both publicsector and Fortune 1000 organizations across North America and Europe. The first half of his career was spent in IT organizations, the second half as a research analyst in enterprise architecture. He holds an MBA from the University of California, Irvine.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE?
In January 1990, my CIO sent me and some colleagues to spend time with John Zachman. Realizing I would not be allowed the time to document our business and IT in „excruciating levels of detail‟, but intrigued with the concepts, I found Larry DeBoever‟s work in enterprise architecture at that time to be more applicable. I adapted enterprise architecture concepts in the early 1990s for a financial services company and then for a food division of PepsiCo and with other PepsiCo companies. Larry DeBoever hired me into a team focused on enterprise architecture at META Group in 1998, acquired by Gartner in 2005.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE TODAY?
Market noise that distracts practitioners from delivering business value. Enterprise architecture methodology and framework debates have been ratholes for enterprise architecture practitioners to argue over; rather than focusing upon the needs of their key stakeholders, many have become enamored with completing a method or framework. Noise concerning reporting relationships and whether enterprise architecture will be most effective when reporting to the CIO or reporting elsewhere in the business is also distracting practitioners. Matching personal aspirations and what enterprise architecture can do for an organization to the expectations and needs of key stakeholders helps practitioners realistically scope and focus enterprise architecture programs for their organizations for today, allowing them to reset what enterprise architecture will be for their organization as these expectations and needs change.
WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG THING IN ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE?
Helping the business, and IT, visualize what future is being created, or might be created, as conditions (environmental trends, investment decision choices, project choices) change. While some pundits are busy arguing over whether enterprise architecture will overtake business strategy, leading practitioners are helping their business understand what future state is being created and whether it fits with the desires of business leaders. Command and control companies lend themselves to planning strategy first and then enterprise architecture follows in developing standards, model, patterns, and other future state advice. Companies who take a „people as strategy‟ approach with greater decision control in the hands of the employees require an enterprise architecture function, and supporting tools, that helps business and IT leaders understand what future results are most likely given the choices and behaviors of those choices, in almost real time, under varying conditions and scenarios. enterprise architecture gets fun, again.
WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING AN ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE ANALYST?
The basics of the role begin with creating, testing, and tweaking hypothesis about how the market of vendors, consultancies, pundits, and practitioners engage in enterprise architecture. These are tested and vetted via surveys, client inquiries, interactive presentations with practitioners, and vendors to help provide models to understand how enterprise architecture programs, the practitioners within enterprise architecture, and near neighbor disciplines create and execute enterprise architecture under varying conditions within IT organizations and, at times, within business leadership teams. Cutting through the immense amount of market hype to reduce fear, uncertainty, and doubt with real practitioners of varying levels is immensely satisfying.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE EXPERIENCE?
My first test of applied enterprise architecture advice resulted in a conversation with my, then, CEO concerning whether I was an idiot for having used enterprise architecture to guide the selection of a 4GL rather than a 3GL for application development. He was aware of technical challenges in this decision and asked me about them.
I made the point that the answer was not made in a vacuum about technical merit alone but upon what would help the company create an IT environment to deliver solutions that would enable the company to engage in business processes that executed the company strategy. Since he had helped develop and sign off on the strategy, desired business process, and IT environment requirements that helped make the decision about the application development tool, he quickly realized that the answer in tool was the right one.
WHAT WAS A LEAST FAVORITE ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE EXPERIENCE?
The Chief Architect of a rather prominent brand name firm threatened to “knock my head off” after I had made the bold claim, on stage in front of almost 1,000 people and his CIO, that enterprise architecture practitioners need to stop focusing upon technical architecture only and start focusing upon business value outcomes. With his CIO by his side, and the veins on his neck bulging, he told me that enterprise architecture was only about technology and that I was making him look stupid by giving such bad advice. I never did convince him that enterprise architecture was about more than IT, but I felt safer when I learned of his coming retirement.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING MAKING ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE THEIR CAREER AREA? (AND TO SOMEONE HAVING AN ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE CAREER?)
This is an evolving, young, discipline. There are many paths that enterprise architecture might take that have yet to be fully defined. Enterprise architecture has yet to commoditize to a common set of beliefs and practices that are generalized and well understood by those who are not practitioners. That makes the continuing change enterprise architecture programs and practitioners will face in the coming decade both challenging and fun as they help clarify what enterprise architecture is becoming.
For the day-to-day practitioner, passion about making their business better and a commitment to identifying, sourcing, and helping the careers of others who share that passion marks most of those I have met through my contacts over the years.
In 1990 I did not think that this would become the focal point of my career, but I continue to enjoy enterprise architecture and working with others engaged in enterprise architecture every day. My friend, and colleague, Chris Wilson, once said that: “Enterprise architecture is not a job, it‟s a life sentence.”. Chris was joking; but, like all jokes, there‟s a kernel of truth in this. For those considering making enterprise architecture their career area, you may find it to be an exciting, at times frustrating, and highly impactful role in support of your organization‟s success. That, in turn, is captivating and may help make this choice more than just a job choice.
Journal of Enterprise Architecture