Building up evidence

The likelihood of delivering value through enterprise architecture, in my mind, is based on the evidence behind the arguments supporting the decisions made in any architectural change. So what are the ways in which evidence based methods and practices can be developed to work with the task of managing Enterprise Architecture as a function within an organisation.

I will use this blog to explore the various ways to build up appropriate tools and techniques to support evidence based enterprise architecture but first i want to describe a view of the future. A future where an organisation is is using this approach to shape the design and development of their enterprise architecture.

This future organisation already has very mature enterprise content management, metadata management and master data management policies and practices in place. With these foundations in operation the Enterprise Achitecture team are now exploring the potential of semantic technologies to make more use of their knowledge, information and data repositories. By this i mean they are going to use an inferencing engine to drive answers from an EA knowledge base. The asserted model will then be used to create evidence to support multiple decisions in a architectural strategy.

To be able to create specific data or content assertions the inference engine would have to be supported by a detailed federated ontological environment and secondary knowledge bases. An arrangement for this type of environment could include upper ontologies such as Cyc or WolfrumAlpha then specific ontologies such as an enterprise ontology (covering organisation domains) working with an enterprise architecture ontology which would be supported by extension ontologies including an ITIL ontology, SOA ontology, OMG BPMN ontology and OMG Business Motivation Model ontology.

I accept that the above suggestion would be quite a piece of work to do and i am not aware of any organisations attempting such a thing. Leading academic institutions have over the years put out papers covering projects that built an enterprise ontology and i have only come across a few organisations that have attempted it but i am sure this will change over the next few years. The biggest challenge to this is the cost and effort required to build and maintain the knowledge and evidence through knowledge bases and ontologies. Yet, this cost would be nothing compared to the cost of failed strategies.

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