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Becoming Salesforce: Beyond Cloud Services

March 9, 2016 Leave a comment

I’ve always maintained (here and here) that a tradition for innovation trumps mere culture of innovation hands down. This was clearly demonstrated at a recent boot camp for new joiners to Salesforce, in San Francisco. Judging by the frenetic pace of a week long immersion in all things Salesforce, the work involved in introducing and maintaining the  Salesforce ‘Ohana’ culture of innovation is a relentless and never-ending pursuit that is worthy of any tradition.

SF Boot Camp

By all accounts this was a ‘mega’ boot camp event, comprising over 250 new hires from many different countries and regions. Below are my top three takeaways from the event:

1: Ohana and Value Alignment
Salesforce believes passionately in giving back to the local community and included a day one agenda item for attendees to undertake pro bono work for some of the local charities. After a couple of hours physical labour, one starts to realise just how serious Salesforce takes the 1-1-1 pledge (i.e. to contribute one percent of employee time / resources / products to help local communities via charity, education and other worthy causes). As if that wasn’t enough, Chief Adoption Officer, Polly Sumner later bought  the point home with a passionate talk about how each employee must make it a mission to define their purpose and actively pursue it by aligning with company values and recording as individual annual objectives. The result: a committed workforce that is empowered to make meaningful and positive contributions, as part of their day job and career aspirations. Given such a culture, it is not surprising why and how customer success is the ultimate raison d’etre for Salesforce

2 – Change is rapid and constant
Several speakers, over the course of the event, took pains to emphasize the need to adapt and adopt a fast paced mentality in order to survive and thrive in Salesforce. With three major (as in all the bells and whistles) releases each year, the Salesforce platform and clouds are constantly evolving to become ever faster, smarter and more personalised with each new release. The latest offerings in Analytics (Wave), user experience (Lightning) and Internet of Things (IoT Cloud) is merely a foretaste of what is likely to manifest on such a dynamic platform. If you are inclined to wonder how or why I can say this things, then look no further than the amazing level of talent gathered at the event. Every background was represented, from ex-marines to rocket scientists, or ex McKinsey, Deloitte, IBM and Capgemini consultants, plus key talent from competitors such as Oracle, Microsoft and SAP. The Force is strong in the Ohana.

3 – Awesome is more than just a word
I must have counted over one hundred separate utterances of the word ‘awesome’ (including two completely unforced instances by yours truly), but suffice it to say I have yet to come across any organisation where employees seem to be in such awe of their own, er  ‘awesomeness’, for lack of a better word. As part of the boot camp, we were also introduced to all the Salesforce clouds i.e.: Sales, Service, Marketing, Apps, Community, Analytics and  IoT Clouds. What is truly impressive is how they all integrate and work together or separately as per customer requirements. A typical customer pitch kicks of with the inevitable Safe Harbour statement and a thank you to the customer, followed by a description of the new technology, new business and new philanthropic models espoused by Salesforce and how that could be made to work better for the customer. It is indeed a brave new world for cloud services.

Overall, the boot camp delivered an unabashed experience of the Salesforce Ohana culture and, given the number of attendees at this event, there definitely is a strong demand for more talented people with the right experience and mindset to join such a fast growing organisation. Finally, and by all indications, Salesforce is certainly showing the hall marks of a company with a clear tradition for innovation that is deeply rooted in its values. Long may it continue, and I can’t wait to see what’s next on the ever changing horizon. Mahalo!

The Architect and Digital

March 15, 2014 Leave a comment

I was very fortunate to participate in Capgemini’s recent Business Priority Week (BPW), alongside over 300 attendees from 22 countries, at the beautiful Les Fontaines retreat. The focus of the week was a new global service line called Digital Customer Experience (DCX), and we (from various business units, disciplines and competencies) were set a challenge to explore and articulate how we’ll work together to deliver this promise for clients.

Digital Customer Experience

The Digital Customer Experience

Being the clever people that architects are sometimes rumoured to be, the immediate response is directly related their role in a rapidly accelerating digital world. However, as an architect, I fear our time may be coming to an end unless we embrace the need to evolve the practice of architecture into something that clearly defines, assures and guides the digital customer experience for our organisation and our clients (incl. their customers / end-users). In order to do this properly, we must undertake an architectural journey to understand the context and key issues before deciding on the most appropriate response. Key questions to ask and answer include:

1. What is Digital and why is it such a game changer for our clients and our business?
A great story about rice, chess and an emperor was used to illustrate the impact of Moore’s Law to startling effect by revealing that we are only at the beginning of the digital journey, or as the authors of Race Against the Machine would say, “we ain’t seen nothing yet”.

2. Are established architecture approaches still relevant for digital?
The experience gained from several decades of putting together complex computer based systems was not lightly earned, and it would be spectacularly foolish to suggest that this is no longer required in the age of digital. If ever there was a time for true architecture it is right now, at the start of such an epic journey, however this implies a shift in the way architects engage clients and practice architecture.

3. So what is different about architecture for Digital and why is this important?
In a short answer – it needs a renewed focus on the business model. The role of architecture in digital is about getting closer to the business and helping achieve desired outcomes, (so far so normal), but this must be done at the exponential pace of digital, whilst maintaining ROI from existing technology investments. It is akin to walking atop the wall of a castle whilst juggling live cats and canaries, during an earthquake, and ducking missiles from inside and outside the castle. I’m sure you get the picture.

The above points indicate a necessary shift in mindset to handle the relative extremes in velocities at the interface of Digital vs. traditional IT systems. Among other things, the digital architect should:

  • Provide enterprise technology governance framework as a key point of reference for the various agile projects and initiatives commonly found in the would-be digital enterprise.
  • Utilise business modelling techniques (e.g. the business model canvas) along with time and velocity sensitive architecture principles to provide critical governance and to guide solutions from design right through to implementation, and beyond.
  • Be mindful of legal and ethical issues that can arise in the digital space (e.g. contractual obligations for digital services, and / or the privacy concerns of end-users).
  • Anticipate the needs of clients and their business in a fast changing environment, even when some stakeholders might challenge the need for architecture in any form.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that architecture has never been more critical than at this particular point in time. This therefore is a call to action for every organisation to challenge their architects to provide the governance and assurance needed to achieve the outstanding outcomes promised by Digital Customer Experience, whilst also protecting existing investment and core assets.

TOGAF, TOGAF, TOGAF!

May 17, 2009 Leave a comment

The 9th version of The Open Group’s Architecture Framework (aka TOGAF 9) was launched in February, after a lengthy 6 year gestation period, to an eagerly waiting audience of architects and wannabes of every description. So I jumped at the opportunity to go on our TOGAF 9 training course, in order to find out just what the fuss is all about.
Before going any further, I have two key points of disclosure (confession) to make, as follows:
1. Capgemini is a platinum member of The Open Group, and a key contributor to the specification of this version of TOGAF
2. I am a practicing / certified architect in Capgemini’s leading Integrated Architecture Framework (IAF)
In effect, I’d like to think that this places me on both sides of the pros / cons divide; and hopefully enables me to provide a relatively un-biased (and personal) opinion of TOGAF 9.

My overall impression, at the end of the five day course, was that TOGAF 9 is indeed a comprehensive and well rounded architecture framework that is suitable for developing and implementing any Enterprise Architecture solution / capability for most organizations. This may be best illustrated by our final day’s workshop in which we tried to articulate the value of TOGAF 9 by answering certain key questions, including:
What is Enterprise Architecture (EA)?
Based on Capgemini’s extensive experience of delivering enterprise architecture, our approach to EA is centered on value management, which may be surmised as: “Valuable enterprise architecture delivers agreed outcomes, at the agreed times, to the agreed stakeholders” . Furthermore Gartner has identified the evolving role of EA can be encapsulated into five categories of activity which any true enterprise architect must embrace / participate / contribute, as follows: 1. Strategy, 2. Architecture, 3. Leadership, 4. Governance and 5. Communication. These and other aspects of EA are demonstrably supported by TOGAF 9
So what does TOGAF 9 bring to EA?
In addition to the above, TOGAF 9 also brings the following key attributes to the table:

    1. An open and well structured approach to enterprise architecture – TOGAF is by definition free and open to be used by any enterprise. It is not proprietary or restricted to any one company or group of entities, and this should help towards its establishment as the premier Architecture Standard for most enterprises
    2. The Architecture Development Method (ADM) provides a well defined process for developing / implementing architecture for the enterprise. The process centric approach is a key selling point for TOGAF, and it also helps to provide hooks into other well established enterprise frameworks / standards (e.g. PRINCE, PMI, CMMI, ITIL etc.)
    3. The Architecture Content Framework (ACF) provides a well developed content meta-model for defining the enterprise architecture in a structured manner. The lack of this feature was apparently a source of major criticism on earlier versions of TOGAF
    4. Among other things TOGAF 9 advocates and provides a rich seam of reference models, as well as the concept of an architecture repository, otherwise known as *ahem* the Enterprise Continuum (ps. you don’t have to be a “Trekkie” to do EA, but it might help, judging by the number of my colleagues on the course that had been / planned to see the new Star Trek movie!)

One point of caution however, is that the above formidable features of TOGAF 9 do not equate to a magic bullet, and it certainly doesn’t substitute for good architectural experience. To put it simply, you cannot check your brain at the door and expect that strict adherence to the content, process and reference models in TOGAF 9 will deliver the best outcomes. This is of particular important to convey to the more procedural minded disciplines of programme / project management, and all other business stakeholders, that must be engaged to deliver good EA, as mandated by TOGAF 9.
To conclude, my main take-out from this well-facilitated course is that TOGAF 9 may well prove to be a key vehicle towards providing a more consistent and professional image of Enterprise Architecture, as befitting a discipline that increasingly plays a major role in determining the destiny of any enterprise.

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Note: Originally published on Capgemini’s technology blog at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2009/05/togaf_togaf_togaf/

Help – there’s an architect in the boardroom!

November 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Not trying to be facetious, but apparently this is a typical reaction by most board members when confronted with certain members of this species. The title of Enterprise Architect (EA) may conjure up a vision of uber-geekdom & rarefied techno-speak, which can only get in the way of communicating with regular business folk (who are dependent on technology to run their businesses efficiently). Therefore, it has become imperative to break down these barriers / perception, at the highest levels, and the good people at Capgemini’s University have designed just such a course to address this particular issue.


les-fontaine-lowres.jpg

The excellent Boardroom Enterprise Architecture course, (which I was fortunate to attend last week), does exactly what it says on the tin. It focuses on the key responsibility of an enterprise architect to communicate effectively with all stakeholders, especially those that operate in the boardroom. The following are some key messages / highlights from the course:

Found in Translation – We explored the role and value of enterprise architecture as a means for articulating the relationship between business and technology (especially as the gap between the two is now almost non-existent). The key is in communicating with the board in a language they can understand (i.e. not “architectese”)

Real World Perspective – A visit by Capgemini board member, Pierre Hessler, provided valuable insight into the various personalities, and agendas, of the individuals that might be found in a typical boardroom, e.g.:

  • They are often extremely goal-oriented, with above average intelligence, and not very easily convinced – (therefore must have robust / evidence-backed reasons to engage successfully with them)
  • They can be somewhat egocentric, and usually gifted with highly developed survival instincts / awareness – (it may be beneficial to align key messages to relevant areas of interest / immediacy
  • They tend to have a full plate and not really interested in taking on more stuff – (simplicity is key)

Techno-Transformation Leadership (even in uncertain times) – Also discussed the position of TechnoVision as a business transformation context for architecture, which opens up the possibility of translating the output from powerful tools like the TechnoVision Matrix into directly actionable business outcomes, based on the robust models and principles of Enterprise Architecture. This would provide the discipline, traceability and flexibility inherent in any well architected solution or system.
To conclude, I thought this was a timely and well facilitated introduction to the future of Enterprise Architecture, as an upstream enabler of real business transformation, and it certainly deserves the positive feedback from all attendees (see example here). Hopefully, as a result, this architect may soon be playing in a boardroom near you!

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2008/11/help_theres_an_architect_in_th.php