zondag 15 januari 2012

BI and Enterprise Architecture (EA)

In some linkedin groups I was reading about that BI should be a Enterprise Architecture (EA) implementation for organizations and i was curious what is meant by that. What is an Enterprise Architecture implementation and how can BI be a part of it? So in order to understand more about the implementation of a Enterprise Architecture i decided to study TOGAF. Currently studying for the Foundation certification (level 1) and it's a huge book (sigh!).  It takes a lot of time to understand the methodology, the phases, terminology, keywords, etc. But interesting though!

TOGAF is well-known Enterprise Architecture Framework and can be seen as a tool for assisting in acceptance, production, use and maintanance of enterprise architecture. In this blogpost i'm trying to translate the TOGAF framework to a plan to implement BI as an Enterprise Architecture.

Enterprise Architecture according to TOGAF
So what is an Enterprise Architecture? What is an Enterprise? What is a Architecture?

Definition Enterprise: "Collections of organizations that has a common set of goals".  Organizations are getting smaller and are functioning in neworkorganizations. Think about an airliner that farms out the luggage handling or ticket selling. Therefore in case of network organizations you should look beyond the boundaries of an organization.

Definition Architecture (ISO) : "The fundamental organization of a system, embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and the environment and the principles governing its design and evolution".

Defintion Enterprise Architecture (SearchIO): "An enterprise architecture (EA) is a conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organization. The intent of an enterprise architecture is to determine how an organization can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives."

TOGAF makes also a distinction between an architecture and a solution. The distinction is that a architecture is like a blueprint of the organization and a solution is like an instance of the architecture. You could compare these between a logical model and physical model (in my opinion).

There are four points of views regarding TOGAF :
  • Business perspective. The business perspective defines the processes and standards by which the business operates on a day-to-day basis.
  • Application perspective. The application perspective defines the interactions among the processes and standards used by the organization.
  • Information perspective.The information perspective defines and classifies the raw data (such as document files, databases, images, presentations, and spreadsheets) that the organization requires in order to efficiently operate.
  • Technology perspective. The technology perspective defines the hardware, operating systems, programming, and networking solutions used by the organization.
In an Enterprise Architecture framework all of these viewpoints are worked out: a baseline is created, a target architecture, gap analysis, a roadmap, review and an implementation is executed.

Translate TOGAF to BI (or BI to TOGAF)
Generally spoken, there is low interest in BI projects regarding working from within an Enterprise Architecture viewpoint. In  most of my projects done the solution is targeted at a certain area of interest: for instance finance. Another issue is that BI projects are under time pressure meaning that BI projects are driven by need for a solution for more or less a specific problem and clients wants it fast.

I don't think about BI as an holistic Enterprise Architecture approach but more as part of the Enterprise Architecture. The ideal situation would be that BI is part of a Enterprise Architecture Program where BI should be adopted at all kind of different levels of the enterprise internally and externally  (think about the network organisations).

Where is BI positioned in TOGAF? You need to understand the business perspective (baseline and target) and you need to understand how BI could aid the target business perspective in such a way that it can benefit from BI. And BI is much about data and there the data perspective is also specific area of interest in case of BI.

The BI Enterprise Architecture can be positioned on the business perspective and on the data pespective of the TOGAF Framework. The BI Enterprise Architect must understand both perspectives and should be aware and understand the overall Enterprise Architecture picture (baseline and target in order to make a flexible, easy to replace building and easy to maintain (BI?) architecture and solution building blocks (ABB and SBB).

Make sure business intelligence is a core part of your Enterprise Architecture Planning!


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