My Takeaways from the 23rd TOGAF Practitioners Conference

I attended the 23rd TOGAF Practitioners Conference last week in Toronto, where I was invited to speak on a panel (podcast coming soon on ZDNET) entitled “Architecture’s Scope Extends Beyond the Enterprise.” I had never been to a TOGAF event, so I was looking forward to seeing what the event would be like. I am happy to say that I was not disappointed with my decision to attend. The Open Group were gracious hosts. The attendees more varied in levels of experience than I had anticipated. Many of the presentations and panels were not framework oriented or TOGAF oriented, making for a more well-rounded EA conference that would have benefitted organizations that use TOGAF very little or not at all. But my greatest takeaway from the event was the underlying theme that ran through the keynotes, breakouts, panels, Q&A sessions and hallway conversations – It is time for EA to become a more strategic BUSINESS discipline. For those of you familiar with EAdirections and our time with the META Group, this is not a new message. However, it is refreshing to see a group perceived as heavily IT-focused as The Open Group to promote this message through the non-member and member speakers alike, as well as some of the tracks in the program. Here are some examples:

• The panel I sat on, while entitled “Architecture’s Scope Extends Beyond the Enterprise,” was actually focused on how the role of EA might be evolving in the future. The moderator and audience questioned the ability of EA to reach its potential as an effort within the IT department. While most see that EA has expanded beyond technology architecture, the evolution of EA towards business architecture is just beginning, if at all, in most organizations.

• The afternoon of day 1 featured tracks on “Holistic EA and and the Role of Business” and “EA Implementation and Business Transformation.”

• One of the afternoon speakers, Bill Sheleg of Deloitte, spoke on the topic of “Extending EA to a Business Discipline.” His premise, as we have expressed for years, is that there is a disconnect in many organizations between the defined strategy and the activities that are going on in and organizations, and that EA is uniquely positioned to bridge that gap. One of the key points he made came from a Bain Consulting study, which said “Seven out of eight companies in a global sample of 1,854 large corporations failed to achieve profitable growth, though more than 90 percent had detailed strategic plans ….”

• The highlight of day 1 for me was the end of day roundtable discussion. All of the speakers from the morning panel and the afternoon speakers in the Holistic EA track joined with the audience to share ideas and thoughts on the question: “What’s next for EA?” The resounding consensus of the group discussion was that EA needs to become a tool that the business (not just IT) uses to improve the execution of strategy. How that will happen, however, brought up several different opinions from the group.

• The second day featured an entire track on the role and profession of business analysis and the parallels between business analysis and business architecture. This track was highlighted by a discussion from Kathleen Barrett, President of the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA). She spoke on the evolution of the profession of business analysts, going so far as to say that the set of skills and knowledge that business analysts possess are the same as business architects should possess. IIBA just published the Business Analyst Book of Knowledge (BABOK) 2.0, which is something that I would recommend aspiring BA’s (analyst or architect) make a part of their repertoire.

The next TOGAF conference in North America will be in early 2010 in Seattle, WA, where I hope to see that conversation has continued and evolved.

Another interesting speaker was David Foote, of Foote Partners (, a research company focused on IT workforce management and compensation practices, trends and issues. David provided quite a bit of interesting data and research conclusions regarding IT jobs, skills and certifications in the US and Canada. His latest press release is available at, containing much of the information he shared with us, but there were three salient points that I want to share:

1 – Although the US unemployment rate is still growing, there are some segments of IT that are losing jobs at a slower rate than most other segments, and in some cases, even gaining jobs in some months. This counter trending is typical of the IT profession in a recession due to the increased dependency on IT.

2 – One of the areas in which David sees a difference in this recession, than in past recessions, is that companies are being very careful about where they cut jobs, so that when the economy begins to rebound, they will be ready with their best people. Specifically, IT professionals with architecture skills and certifications are being valued very highly.

3 – To further solidify the position of architects, including enterprise architects, David presented several data points that show that while many IT skills and certifications are losing value with employers, those of architects are generally trending upward. For instance, Architecture and Project Management certifications that are tracked by Foote Partners have actually increased in value by 4.3% during Q2 2009, one of only 3 areas with growth. Also, of the 19 architecture certifications that they track, none have lost value in the last quarter, with some even gaining value.

Taken altogether, David did a pretty good job of convincing the audience that while some analysts may have predicted a “Death Knell” for Enterprise Architecture in 2009, that does not appear to be the case. My colleague George Paras also disputed this notion in a recent blog entry, Will EA Groups Disappear in 2009?. Both the data and David’s conversations with executives support the notion that this recession is a great opportunity for IT professionals with architecture skills to thrive.