Three Industry Luminaries Help Me Unpack Why Business Architecture is an Essential Player in the ExTech Market

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Welcome to The Digital Experience Report, your source for news, analysis, and insights on the ExTech (Experience Technologies) market and all things related to the Digital Experience.

In this report, Jeff Ton (rightfully) challenges my inclusion of Business Architecture as an ExTech market technology, so I turn to Whynde Kuehn of S2E Transformation and Terry Roach of Capsifi for help answering it. Also, Protocol Enterprise offers up a fabulous analysis of the process mining acquisition binge, a new study calling into question the impact of observability, Future Forum finds that employee experience scores are dropping as workers return to the office, and a Cleo study shows agility-driven revenue gains for companies that invest in integration technologies. Plus news from Gupshup, Laiye, Infragistics, 8×8 and Genesys, Khoros, Observe.ai, Celonis, Dynatrace, and Skuid.

Three Industry Luminaries Help Me Unpack the Reason Business Architecture is an Essential Player in the ExTech Market

Why in the world do I consider business architecture to be a part of the Experience Tech market?

If you’re reading this, you probably know that what I call the ExTech market is the ecosystem of technologies necessary to design, deliver, manage, and support a winning digital experience. And I explicitly exclude core infrastructure, including cloud and data architecture, from this market space.

But business architecture platforms are in?

I recently spoke with Jeff Ton, a former CIO and current leadership guru, for an upcoming episode of his Status Go podcast — and he called me on this seeming contradiction.

It is a fair question that deserves answering. And as luck or fate would have it, two recent conversations with a couple of business architecture industry luminaries helped me answer it.

But it actually went further than simply helping me justify why I am correct in including business architecture platforms in my ExTech Landscape. The conversations also helped me see more clearly how the entire integrated ecosystem of technologies, strategies, and executional capabilities must hang together for enterprise leaders to deliver winning digital experiences.

The Transformational Road to Experiential Value

My journey began with a conversation with Whynde Kuehn, founder and managing director of consulting firm S2E Transformation, and author of the forthcoming book, Strategy to Reality. (You can pre-order the book here!)

As it turns out, I had written the foreword to Whynde’s book and was intrigued by her approach to business architecture and its link to my work around the digital experience. She explained that creating a meaningful digital experience is fundamentally strategic and innovative — and both require an understanding of how the organization operates as the foundation of transformation.

“Business architecture helps to inform strategy by helping us to understand what it is that we do today, and how to think in a structured way about innovating and changing business models,” Whynde explained. “How can we use this capability to deliver a new product or service? What’s the impact if we go into this market or introduce this product or make this change?”

This first step is critical. Understanding the building blocks of an organization becomes the foundation for changing it. But, she told me, there’s much more to it. What stops most enterprises from transforming around the digital experience (or anything, for that matter) is their inability to go from strategy to execution.

“The first thing business architecture does is inform and translate, but the second thing it does is knit every single thing together from strategy to initiative,” she said. “So strategies, goals, objectives, courses of action, value streams, capabilities, the journeys, processes, apps, software, services, and all the other pieces come together.”

She explained that what she calls strategy execution is sort of like a big organizational muscle — but one that enterprise leaders don’t know they have, so they just sort of bumble through it, struggling most of the time.

As she explained this, the light bulb went off for me.

The entire reason that I’m now talking about the importance of the digital experience is that I believe it’s the underlying why of digital transformation — it’s the reason that organizations must transform. But to transform anything, you need to start with a blueprint that gives you a common language and understanding of what is, so that you can be free to imagine what may be — and that’s why business architecture is such a powerful enabler of the digital experience value engine.

But for these very seem reasons, it’s an incredible enabler of innovation, as my following conversation made clear.

Business Architecture and the Two Pathways to Innovation

If there’s any issue with the concept of business architecture, it’s probably its name. Particularly for those of us who have fought in the Ivory Tower Wars, the word architecture, in the context of a discipline or function, is often synonymous with barriers to getting anything done.

“We don’t even mentioned the word architecture, because nobody wants business architecture. What they want is transformation, innovation, experience, strategy, governance.”

That’s what Terry Roach, founder and CEO of Capsifi, explained to me when we spoke.

Capsifi is part of a growing market segment making tools that enable organizations to realize the business architecture vision that Whynde is putting forth in her book. But as he explained, it’s less about helping companies implement business architecture, and more about enabling organizations to create innovation through collaboration and what Roach calls knowledge engineering.

As Roach explains, there are two types of innovation (as shown in Terry’s diagram below), and both require the knowledge and constructs that Whynde’s business architecture vision provides. “The biggest challenge we have with innovation is understanding how to innovate — what’s the anatomy and ontology of innovation?” he said. “When you’re innovating, there are two possible things you can innovate: you can either do the right thing, which is product-centric innovation that gets at the value proposition for the customer, or you can do things right, which means value stream innovation and uplifting your business capabilities. So one is product-led, the other is capability-led.”

Source: Capsifi

He explained that when enterprises think of innovation, they tend to think about the product-led version — creating a new product, adding a new feature, etc. But the capability-led innovation is, in all likelihood, more readily accessible and potentially more powerful.

For instance, think about many of the most disruptive companies of the last decade. Much of the disruption was less about what they were doing and more about how they were doing it.

But regardless of which form of innovation an organization seeks, it is what Roach calls the (business architecture-powered) service blueprint that offers enterprise leaders the visibility and transparency to see their opportunities and understand both the operational impacts and business outcomes of proposed changes.

The Experiential Engine of Change

The thing that most enterprise leaders (and even industry observers) miss in the conversation about the digital experience is how fundamental of a change it truly represents.

Once you get past the simplistic idea that the experience is about a single moment or interface, you begin to understand the enormity of the change required to transform the experience to make a meaningful difference to your customers, employees, and partners.

Focusing on the digital experience becomes a transformational engine of change.

But the transformational demand that this focus brings requires a new perspective — and a new discipline — to enable it. That is the essence of Whynde’s message in her new book.

Of course, I’m focusing entirely on its usefulness in the context of digital experience-driven change. But the need for organizations to conceptualize and articulate their business capabilities in a strategic context and then translate that into consistent and manageable execution is something that every organization needs and which enables far more than a focus on the digital experience.

And the moment you begin to go down that road, you will realize that the level of complexity and interconnectedness incumbent in this level of change demands tools and approaches to help you manage it.

So, that’s the answer — that’s why Capsifi and other business architecture platforms (even if they don’t call themselves that!) are a part of the ExTech market. They are the foundational enablers of the business transformation necessary for organizations to focus on the digital experience.

How’s that, Jeff?

P.S. Don’t forget to pre-order Whynde’s new book. Whether you’re a business architect, an enterprise executive, or just BizArch-curious, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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About the author 

Charles Araujo

Charles Araujo is a technology analyst and internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise, the Digital Experience and the Future of Work. Researching Digital Transformation for over 10 years, he is now focused on helping leaders transform their organizations around the digital experience and to reimagine the future of work. Publisher and principal analyst of The Digital Experience Report, founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation, co-founder of The MAPS Institute, and author of three books, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and advisor to technology companies and enterprise leaders.

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