Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Is There Really an Enterprise Architecture Market?

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Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner EA Conference in London. Although the event appeared to be well attended from a delegate perspective, the same cannot be said for the exhibitors! There were only 9 of them - Alfabet, Architecting the Enterprise, Casewise, IBM, iterplan, MEGA, Metastorm, Software AG and Troux.

Seeing so few vendors present led me to ask the question, is there really an Enterprise Architecture market. Sure there are greater numbers of people talking about EA, attending events and joining groups, but this alone does not create a market. If one was to add together the EA revenues of all the players present I estimate that the sum would be at a maximum $100m, then if we add in the revenues of other vendors not present we might get to around $200-$300m, not an insignificant number, but in software terms not really enough to make a market.

I may not be alone in my assessment, looking at the signage of the booths and talking with the vendors, even they seem uncertain. Alfabet were at pains to point out to me that they were not an EA player, but an IT planning tool vendor (apparently they only play in EA because Gartner say they are in the EA space!), MEGA seem to be playing increasingly in the GRC (Governance, Compliance & Risk) market, although they still had an EA story - as an aside they were making an interesting claim, they suggest that they are the only EA vendor that is profitable and debt free, I am not certain about this claim. Iteraplan told me that they are really a consulting company with a tool for their customers to use. Metastorm are mainly a BPM vendor, only playing in EA as a result of their acquisition of Proforma. Software AG with IDS Scheer talk to EA, but seem more rooted in BPA and now SOA and middleware.  From what I could see, at the event at least only Casewise and Troux appeared to be seriously promoting EA (Others such as MEGA did talk to it, but it did not seem there key message).

Changes are apparently afoot at Gartner too, some of the vendors told me that this year will see a revamp of the EA magic quadrant, with open source tools and other small vendors being included. A sure sign that Gartner too feel that they are not getting enough traction in their EA practice (from vendors).

While at the event I also managed to catch up with Brian Burke, Gartner VP, it is nearly 8 years since I sat down and recorded an interview on the state of the EA market with Brian, so a catch up was long overdue.

According to Brian "EA as a discipline is intended to solve a wide variety of problems IT/Business and Application oriented, it is intended to provide insight and enable organizations to be more proactive. However, for the most part it has not been focused enough on the the high impact business problems. A skilled EA knows how to cut through the noise and to focus narrowly on only the key business problems and then delivers value against those quickly." Brian also reminded me that too many people "still think of EA as and end in and of itself."

I also asked Brian about how he saw the market changes over the past few years, as it seemed that the products in the space did not seem to have evolved much. He shared some thoughts which best remain private, but did point out that there are now more people doing EA than there were before. He did seem to suggest, though not in as many words, that perhaps the EA space was more of a focused niche than a full market.

His final thoughts were that perhaps "EA could do more to assist with looking ad the value added activities and managing in a boundary less world."

The other fashion that seems to be taking hold is around Business Architecture (indeed I recently wrote a paper which Casewise bought on this subject, 7 Steps to BA Success you can get a copy via http://bit.ly/b4YZiu) This causes me to wonder if EA belongs to an age of Data Centricity, whereas today in a world of process centricity Business Architecture may make more sense, maybe it has a greater emphasis on those value adds that Brian talked off.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Playing With Casewise's New iPad App

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If you have been following my "tweets" then you will know that I was lucky enough top pick up an Apple iPad a few weeks ago while in the USA, and I have to say I love it! Some of you may already be playing with it, while others may be waiting anxiously on the postman next week to see if he will bring you your pre-ordered machine.

Much of the press coverage has centered around the fact that it is a potentially game changing personal multi-media, content serving device. This of course may be true, but some software developers with a more visionary approach, see that it has major applicability in the business marketplace and are looking to develop applications for the device.

To my mind at least software vendors in the BPM space have been a little slow in understanding and embracing mobile devices and the iPad in particular. One look at the US App Store says that in other segments developers have been preparing their offerings for some time.

Now that appears to be changing, I was fortunate enough to met up with some of the team at Casewise and they told me about some of their plans. More importantly (for me!) they kindly installed their new iPad App on my machine and have let me play with it. I have to say that it looks really cool and from what I can see has the makings of something very special. As with any product, it was easy to come up with a wish list or an if-only list, but many of those things I thought already appear to be on the roadmap.

In addition to looking at the App, the team also shared with me some of their thoughts about how the market is changing and what people will need in order to be able to respond to those changes. Radical, was the word that sprang to my mind, but at the same time relief, that at last someone seems to get where the market needs to go. I am a firm believer in modeling, but also a worrier. A worrier in that unless the modeling tool vendors really step up their game they will find it increasingly hard to compete against other genres of tools taking a relatively lightweight approach to analysis and design.

Of course, they say there is no such thing as a free lunch, and sure enough tomorrow I have to repay their kindness by showing the App to visitors at the GartnerGroup EA Conference in London - seems that if you actually have an iPad right now you are in demand! So if you are attending the event and are interested to see it, pop by their booth and make an appointment.

You can learn more about what Casewise are planning for the iPad and a whole host of other devices by reading the press release that they put out today.

Click here to read the Casewise iPad Press Release