Archives 2019

AT#49: Digital Transformation: What Companies should learn from ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna

AT#49: Digital Transformation: What Companies should learn from ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Vienna

A recent article by an Austrian newspaper stated that the growth in sales of the ‘Christkindlmarkt’ (Christmas Market) Vienna exceeds the turnover growth of online shops by 30%. At the first instant, I was quite surprised by this fact. Why are traditional business models like of the Christkindlmarkt still competitive? Why are companies of the old economy like large banks still around even if not having radically transformed to innovative business models?

In my opinion, the best answer to these questions is given by the German philosopher Odo Marquard . His famous essay “Zukunft braucht Herkunft” (“Future needs Ancestry”) discusses why every innovation must be based on the capabilities that have evolved over centuries. In other words – if you are an elephant even years of training cannot make you a zebra. If you are the Vienna Opera even hundreds of Agile coaches cannot make you Spotify. If you are a big bank even thousands of consultants cannot make you a fintec.

After some contemplation, I asked myself questions like:

  • Could it be that we admire companies like Amazon too much?
  • Do we live in an age that believes too much in technology and progress?
  • Are companies of the old economy aware of their tremendous strengths that still keep them in front of innovative startups like fintechs?
  • Is the hype of digital transformation slowing down because of the reality of real, tangible assets that can not be disrupted by internet companies?

After answering these questions from my point of view I would give the following recommendations: Read More

AT#48: How to Ride an Elephant in Digital Times?

AT#48: How to Ride an Elephant in Digital Times?

Let’s look back four years and remember what consultants predicted for the digitally transformed future of companies. Expectations were high, a bright, technology optimistic future was drawn in vivid colors – self-driving cars, disrupted businesses, AI automates all backoffice processes, etc. etc. And now – let’s compare this to the reality of enterprises of the old economy – yes, companies have run punctual innovation initiatives, banks have modernized their mobile payment apps . But substantially? Nothing has “transformed”! Digital transformation of the old economy is happening at a much slower pace than expected. So, the question is: why? Why are big companies still around without having changed their business models substantially? Read More

AT#47: How to Make EAM a Management Instrument Part 3 – Connect with Multi Project Management

AT#47: How to Make EAM a Management Instrument Part 3 – Connect with Multi Project Management

In nine out of ten companies I worked as an EA, IT implementation projects were used as the key element used in strategic planning. Boards were used to budget and prioritize goals based on project status reports. They had to decide whether to invest in project ‘ABZ’ or ‘Leo New’ (both quite cryptic names for them) – not the best way to keep oversight over their strategic goals.

The Architectural Thinking Framework includes the concept of “Strategic Fields of Action” (SFAs) (introduced in our last blog post) that addresses this problem. SFAs connect the strategic goals of the company with the implementation projects. Thus, they are the link between the operational planning of projects and the architectural skeleton of the company.   Read More

AT#46: How to Make EAM a Management Instrument Part 2 – Connect with Strategic Goals

AT#46: How to Make EAM a Management Instrument Part 2 – Connect with Strategic Goals

Defining a compelling vision should usually be the first step to start a digital transformation journey. Your executives craft a vision of your transformed company: what your company will stand for, how it will operate, which technology it will use to improve customer value. That vision highlighted some of the major landmarks on your transformation journey.

Derived from this vision, companies should define strategic goals that bring the vision to a more operational level. Read More

AT#45: How to Make Enterprise Architecture a Management Instrument Part1 – Digital Governance

AT#45: How to Make Enterprise Architecture a Management Instrument Part1 – Digital Governance

To unleash its enormous power, Enterprise Architecture (EA) must be implemented as a management instrument that is the basis for important strategic decisions. In practice, however, EA is still a mystical discipline, ruled by vague frameworks and done by a small EA group far away from executive boards. In most companies, EA has no or very limited impact on strategic business decisions. Enterprise Architecture SHOULD be a management instrument but fails in practice. Read More

AT#44 – Architectural Thinking Newsletter Oct19

AT#44 – Architectural Thinking Newsletter Oct19

The Architectural Thinking Association® celebrates its first birthday! A lot has happened in this year, and plans are getting clearer and clearer, so – let’s have a look at the results we’ve achieved so far and at our next steps:

We’ve built an interdisciplinary Leadership Team

I am happy that we were able to build an active, multidisciplinary ->Leadership Team. It consists of seven renowned people from the fields of Business Strategy, Business Architecture, Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Design, and Agile Solution Development. In our monthly calls, we discussed our mission, the conceptual foundations of Architectural Thinking, and future steps. Read More

AT#43: How to Become a Sustainably Adaptive Enterprise

AT#43: How to Become a Sustainably Adaptive Enterprise

Business agility is at the top of the priority list of CEOs. They want to get quick and agile like a rabbit that can change direction with each jump. This kind of agility, however, can only be achieved by well-designed enterprises that are adaptive to their surroundings. Like an octopus that can change shape and color in an instant.

But how to become a sustainably adaptive enterprise that survives disrupting competitors?

Read More

AT#42: Enterprise Architects are Dead – Long Live Enterprise Architecture Management!

AT#42: Enterprise Architects are Dead – Long Live Enterprise Architecture Management!

Since it’s beginning as a discipline, Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) has been performed by a specific “Enterprise Architect” (EA) role. In practice, this role has been far too often reduced to managing the repository of IT applications and drawing fancy, IT-focused diagrams that never reach the reality of solution development. EAM, even after almost four decades, still seems locked in its ivory IT tower with only limited practical influence on strategic business decisions. How many enterprises have been actually architected by EAs?

But why? How comes that EAM fails to do what it is supposed to – architecting enterprises? My answer: Read More

AT#20: Why Digital Transformation fails without Architecture

AT#20:  Why Digital Transformation fails without Architecture

Structure not only increases our chance to success,
it makes us more efficient at it.’ – Marshall Goldsmith

When people discuss digital transformation, they talk mostly about innovation, agility and new technologies. Companies put a tremendous amount of effort into initiatives that should make them more agile and innovative, but most of the companies I know do not manage their innovation initiatives towards a big architectural picture. The overly complex structure of dependencies between innovation- and other projects, and between new technologies and legacy-IT, are not handled with intent. Just present a fancy technology to top-level executives. If it has a low time-to-market and includes AI, chances are high that you can do it. No matter if it’s integration with legacy IT results in unnecessary complexity, ‘technical debt’ that introduces a total cost of ownership that outnumbers the business benefits by far. No matter if it is architecturally sound.

Let’s have a closer look at what ‘architecturally sound’ means, what architecture is all about and why the concept of architecture is helpful, especially in the context of innovation: Read More

AT#13 Companies are Elephants!

AT#13 Companies are Elephants!

The famous parable of the blind men and an elephant is a story of a group of blind men, who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant’s body, but only one part. They then describe the elephant based on their limited experience and their descriptions of the elephant are different from each other. The complete text of the poem is here.

When I read the parable I instantly found it to be very suitable to use it for companies within the digital transformation. Companies are elephants employing blind men like: Read More


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