Two recent EA conferences – Unicom and BAEA

Need to do a bit of a catch-up on recent activity – a lot’s been going on, but it’s only now that I’m having a few scraps of time to write it all down.

Two key items have been a couple of recent local enterprise-architecture conferences: the one-day Unicom EA conference in London some ten days back, and the BAEA (Belgian chapter of AEA – Association of Enterprise Architects) ‘EA Cafe‘ at Heverlee, near Brussels, late last week.

Unicom EA is a relatively-small yet highly-professional conference that’s held in London twice each year, each time with a somewhat different theme – this time ‘Enterprise Architecture and its application’

This conference happened to run at the same time as a couple of other conferences – on business-analysis and on change-management for ‘digital disruption’ – run by the same event-organiser, so the first part was a combined plenary by Alan Brown of the Surrey Business School, on the tricky trade-offs between innovation (preparing for the new) and efficiency (getting the best out of the existing systems and business-models). It was a very good start, followed by the first session of this conference proper, from Balbir Barn of Middlesex University, on the dreaded ‘business/IT-alignment’; and the inimitable Philip Hellyer from Carphone Warehouse – always inventive, always willing to take a risk in presenting something new.

One of the key themes in all of those sessions was that EA must necessarily cover a scope that is much broader than IT alone, and often much broader even than the organisation itself. That perhaps sounds obvious now, these days – but it’s important to remember that even five years ago the notion that EA could be about anything other than IT was considered way out on the far fringe, more than a little crazy. We’ve come a long way in quite a short time; yet my feeling is that we still have a long way to go…

My own session, ‘Staging the story‘ was after the lunch-break – hence it needed to be kind of active to keep people awake! 🙂 Then a couple of very technical sessions, by Jan Schoonderbeek of Bizzdesign, on an infrastructure-metamodel, and by Dragan Pendic of Diageo, on APIs and security, which were good but which I’d have to admit were not my bag.

The last main session – a late change, not listed on the programme on the website – was by Philip Boxer, an excellent description of architecture for ‘platforms’. His key example was ‘hospital as platform’: for example, “the cost of operations [service-delivery] were much the same in each hospital; the costs of alignment [linking services together] varied hugely between each of the hospitals”. Importantly, his concept of ‘cost’ was not just in monetary terms to the hospital itself, but included other real costs such as time, frustration and stress for the hospital’s clients – whole-of-system costing, in other words, rather than local-optimised costing.

And finally, a shared panel-session – one of the really strong regular features of this conference. One comment from Richard Veryard, for example, that “every project needs some understanding of architectural risk” – we need ‘just enough architecture’, with someone around who’s asking the right questions about about whole-of-system risk and opportunity.

For what it’s worth, here’s my slidedeck for the Unicom EA conference:

Share and enjoy, as usual?

BAEA EA Cafe is another very popular ‘regular’ on the Belgian enterprise-architecture scene, drawing a wide variety of folks in from across the Benelux region and into northern France. It’s an evening affair, this time hosted at the offices of AE at Heverlee, some 20kms east of Brussels.

First up was Koen Knaepens of SCIOcenter, presenting the COSTA Model. It’s an interesting framework, a very nice balance of richness and simplicity, that links neatly between business-oriented views and a Zachman-like description of the more technical-layer realms. (There’s also a good overview of COSTA in the first part of Filip Hendrickx‘s summary of the event – see Filip’s blog ‘Simplicity and change‘.)

Then my own session, on including people-issues within EA. I’d framed it as a mix of theory and practical, and I think it went down well, especially in the ‘practicals’, quick ten-minute group-discussions. (I’d been gently warned beforehand that “the Belgian audience might not be the most enthusiastic and energetic”: well, actually, they were – so much so that at one point I had to resort to my infamous ear-splitting scream of “lay-deez an’ jennelmen!!!‘ just to get the attention back to the screen. 🙂 ) A lot of fun – and great discussions afterwards, too.

And yes, here’s that slidedeck as well:

Hope you find this useful? – over to you for any comments as usual, anyways.

1 Comment on “Two recent EA conferences – Unicom and BAEA

  1. Hello Tom,

    I just wanted to say thank you again for being a part of the UNICOM conference and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I was wondering if you would possibly be willing to do a write up blog (along these lines and the lines of At Unicom EA: Breaking Free from IT-Centrism) for the UNICOM blog page?

    Also thank you for your book, I am going to start reading it next week when my workload is a little smaller!


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