Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Does your company need an IT Department? Really?

What if your company built its factories and offices the way they build IT solutions?

Say that your company needs a new factory or office. It would form several subsidiary companies and a department to oversee them. One subsidiary would provide architectural services, one would serve as general contractor, and others would provide concrete, electrical, plumbing, and carpentry services. Still others would be formed to provide interior design services, and equip the offices and cubicles. Through these subsidiaries, your company would hire architects, managers, engineers, concrete workers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, bricklayers, interior designers, and other laborers. None of these actually make the products or provide the services your company sells to its customers!

These subsidiaries would then create their respective processes and standards. These would differ from industry accepted processes and standards because ‘your company does things differently’. Finalizing the architecture and designs for the new factory or office would be a real challenge. The carpenters would have one set of requirements, while the managers would have another set; and so on across the subsidiaries. After reworking the requirements, the managers would solve the problem by creating a new role, the ‘Relationship Manager’. The Relationship Managers would be the points-of-contact for gathering the requirements from your business executives and managers. When a requirement appears too difficult, it is the Relationship Manager’s job to tell the business why the factory or office can’t have the required feature; such a double door or an escalator. Finally your company’s new factory or office would be delivered – late and over budget; assuming that the project did not fail – an all too frequent outcome!

When the factory or office was complete, your company would form another subsidiary company to run the facility. The workers in this ‘Operations’ subsidiary would spend most of their time compensating for and patching significant building defects just to keep the building running. Disasters would be common. After such disasters, the workers would restore the electricity following an ‘Uninterruptible Power Supply’ (UPS) failure, brace walls and floors when they ‘Went Down’, rebuild the elevator system following a ‘Crash’, or spray large quantities of toxic chemicals for ‘Bug’ infestations. Security breaches would be common as well. Intruders would enter the factory or building; some brought in as guests by careless employees. They would install viruses, worms, and Trojan horses to spy on your company, steal its secrets, and damage its ability to conduct business. Workers in both the ‘Security’ and ‘Operations’ subsidiaries would apply still more patches to prevent intrusion as well as detect and neutralize the viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. None of which actually make the products or provide the services your company sells to its customers!

Finally, your company would seek to make changes to the factory or office, or even build more factories and offices. This is necessary to keep the workers in the various subsidiaries busy. Remember, your company just made a large investment creating these subsidiaries!

So how do companies really get their factories and offices?

In the real world, there are two common approaches.

In the first case, your company would recognize the need for a new factory or office. It would engage an architectural firm specializing in the type of factory or office required. The architectural firm would present a few options that meet the business requirements. After some revisions, the selected option would be placed out to general contractors for bid. These general contactors likewise specialize in the type of factory or office required. The general contactor with the winning bid would then engage subcontractors for the concrete, plumbing, electrical, and so on. Your company would also engage a firm to design the interior, and layout the production lines, offices, cubicles, and other equipment. As planned, the new factory would be delivered ready for move-in. Your company would have contracts in place for janitorial services, and other routine maintenance. In this case, your company owns the facility but not the means to create it. In IT, this is referred to as ‘Out-Sourcing’.

In the second case, your company would lease the capability and capacity from a provider. If a factory is needed, a contract manufacturer is engaged. If an office is needed, a commercial space is leased. In this case, your company owns neither the facility nor the means to create it. In IT, this is referred to as the ‘Cloud’.

Does your company need its own IT Department?

Your company already trusts architects, contractors, and providers for the factories that produce millions, even billions, of dollars in products each year; or, for offices that safely support your workers and encourage their productivity. So why does your company insist on owning the computing as well as the means of creating it? Unless your company actually sells IT products and/or services, the IT is not a core business capability.

It’s time to bring in the professionals!

__Joseph Starwood (

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Enterprise Architecture Roadmaps & Milestones

The Enterprise Architecture defines essential business and IT capabilities. The Enterprise Architecture Roadmap specifies the dependency-order among these capabilities. Realizing the Enterprise Architecture Roadmap requires that each milestone be implemented as changes to the IT Environment through IT Portfolio Projects and/or IT Asset Initiatives.

Whether separate or combined, most organizations perform IT Portfolio Planning and IT Asset Planning. This planning involves developing a business case and estimates to support prioritization and investment.

Enterprise Architecture provides the Technical Approach for each IT Portfolio Project and IT Asset Initiative. The Technical Approach, a directional document, identifies describes the Enterprise Architecture Roadmap milestone associated with the project or initiative. The description includes the general technical direction, risks, assumptions, dependencies, and benefits. The Technical Approach establishes a rational basis for prioritizing and estimating the project or initiative.

As each IT Portfolio Project or IT Asset Initiative begins, Enterprise Architecture provisions a Project Start Architecture [Cutter Consortium, 2010], also referred to as a Target Architecture [TOGAF Version 9, 2009]. The Project Start Architecture conforms to the established Technical Approach, and may add new Enterprise Architecture requirements or constraints defined since the planning stage. It presents the Conceptual Architecture for the intended IT solution, and may also include Logical and Physical Architecture aspects when providing specific direction to the project or initiative.

Architecture Governance is applied consistently. Milestone reviews (a.k.a.: Gate reviews) are conducted for the Technical Approach and the Project Start Architecture as well as the subsequent Software Architecture Document (SAD). When Architecture Issues arise, the Architecture Review Board (ARB) engages with the project or initiative to provide a resolution. In some cases, the ARB grants an Architecture Exception (Exemption) that may specify a future remedy.

__ Joseph Starwood (

Organizational Change & Business-IT Alignment

Organizational change is never easy. It is also unavoidable. Organizations face an ever increasing rate of change. New business opportunities and threats emerge daily. Global competition impacts nearly every industry. Technology advances at a blistering pace. It even changes customer expectations about the products and services an organization provides and how it interacts with its customers.

Enterprise Architecture and Roadmaps can ease the pain of change. With these tools, an organization can navigate forward; avoiding pitfalls and delays. Even with these tools, people remain both the key resource for, as well as greatest challenge to, implementing organizational change.

Aligning groups and individuals throughout the organization builds synergy. This alignment must be architected ‘Top-Down’, and must address structure, roles, responsibilities, and objectives. The structure must reflect the scope of work to be preformed by a group as well as its interfaces with other groups. Roles and responsibilities must be defined so as to accomplish the scope of work and collaborate with other groups. The group and individual objectives must be aligned with the business and IT strategies and plans according to their function and level. This last item is perhaps the most overlooked aspect for many companies.

Aligning groups and individuals can be approached along three lines of reasoning: 1) Business-IT Alignment; 2) Financial-Execution Alignment; and, 3) Governance Alignment. Think of these as ‘Three Pillars’ extending from the Business through Enterprise Architecture to IT. When groups and individuals are aligned so as to support the Business-IT Alignment, changes to the vision become measurable results –IT solutions. IT investment becomes more focused as groups and individuals work within the Financial—Execution Alignment. Increasing synergy across the organization is apparent when groups and individuals engage in the Governance Alignment.

Metrics can be aligned using the ‘Three Pillars’ approach. Some organizations experience difficulty defining metrics that roll-up to meaningful business and IT KPIs. The ‘Three Pillars’ pose questions: 1) How well are business and IT aligned?; 2) How well are business and IT performing?; and, 3) Did we obtain the results we expected? The latter supports metrics that verify we conducted processes as we intended, and that validate what we intended is actually correct.

__ Joseph Starwood (

Goverance and Enterprise Architecture Roadmaps

Many organizations struggle to establish and mature their Enterprise Architecture Roadmaps. The challenges they face are numerous: organizational change, cultural change, skills development, process change, technology adoption, etc. Enterprise Architecture Roadmaps improve alignment between business objectives and IT investment, and enhance communication between business and IT stakeholders.

Some organizations are finding support from the “10-Step Roadmapping Process” from the Enterprise Architecture Executive Council (EAEC; This process provides a customizable set of frameworks that embody the ‘Best Practices’ for building and maintaining sound roadmaps.

EAEC’s “10-Step Roadmapping Process” integrates Governance. Two aspects are emphasized: 1) Determine Ownership; and, 2) Establish Metrics.

Roles and responsibilities, especially around decision rights, are incorporated within the Determine Ownership aspect. To achieve Business-IT alignment the organizational structure and the group and individual performance objectives must also be considered and brought into alignment. The Determine Ownership aspect also sets the cadence for activities. This is critical to ensuring that progress meets key business deadlines while avoiding ‘quick shortcuts’ that jeopardize long-term business objectives.

Metrics are essential for establishing an objective and quantitative measure of success. EAEC’s “10-Step Roadmapping Process” emphasizes the success of Enterprise Architecture Roadmaps. However, metrics are also essential to measuring Business-IT Alignment, Financial-Execution Alignment, and Governance Alignment.

Just as Business-IT Alignment is architected ‘Top-Down’ from Business to IT, so to must Ownership and Metrics be architected ‘Top-Down’. This facilitates arriving at the minimum number of well-aligned roles and metrics necessary to achieve success.

__ Joseph Starwood (

An Approach to Business-IT Alignment

There are many methods and models for establishing and maturing Business-IT alignment as well as unifying IT disciplines – at least as many as consulting companies offering business and IT products and services!

Unfortunately, theses methods and models have limitations. Some are more applicable to one industry or another. Some are more applicable at the strategic level. Most emphasize the tactical level where IT products and services can be sold.

There is an opportunity to bridge the gaps between Business and IT, between strategy and tactics, and between development and operation of IT solutions. This opportunity and its challenges can be approached along three lines of reasoning: 1) Business-IT Alignment; 2) Financial-Execution Alignment; and, 3) Governance Alignment. Think of these as ‘Three Pillars’ extending from the Business through Enterprise Architecture to IT.

Enterprise Architecture bridges the Business Operating Model to the IT Operating Model. It establishes Business-IT alignment. IT Management and its many supporting IT disciplines bridge business objectives to IT automation and controls. These establish Financial-Execution alignment. Architecture Governance bridges Corporate Governance to IT Governance. It establishes Governance alignment. (Many organization place Enterprise Architecture team within the IT department. This may contribute to viewing Architecture Governance as a subset of IT Governance. However, Enterprise Architecture is primarily a strategic business discipline at the nexus of business and technology.)

There is good reason to utilize a ‘Three Pillar’ view. Some organizations are moving their Chief Architecture Officer (CAO) or Chief Enterprise Architect (CEA) under the COO in their executive structures. This is being done to ensure alignment between the Business Operating Model and the IT Operating Model. Some organizations are moving their CIO or CTO under the CFO in their executive structures. The CIO or CTO reports on matters of IT cost, risk, and performance. Recently, many organizations added a Chief Governance Officer (CGO) role to their executive structures in response to new regulatory requirements. The CGO reports to the CEO on matters of corporate governance and regulatory compliance.

__ Joseph Starwood (

Governance & Business-IT Alignment

Many organizations struggle to build synergy across their IT departments. They turn to consultants for expertise on unifying IT; obtaining assessments of their current IT alignment and maturity as well as recommendations for improvements. The organizations apply some of the recommendations, and adopt various methods and standards as a basis for aligning IT disciplines. Yet, in the end, they must ask themselves, “Did we get the results we expected?”

Governance is essential to establishing and maturing the interfaces between IT disciplines; thereby reducing and eliminating ‘IT Silos’. Governance verifies that we conduct each discipline and exchange information across each inter-discipline interface as we intended. It also validates that what we intended is actually correct. Governance provides management of IT disciplines during their normal operation. It also provides control for these disciplines when issues are encountered and exceptions (exemptions) are required.

Architecture Governance plays a key role in establishing IT alignment with the business. This is critical to validating that what IT intended is actually the correct thing to do for the business. It ensures that the Enterprise Architecture and Roadmaps conform to the business strategy and plans. The strategic alignment establishes a solid foundation for unifying IT.

Architecture Governance further contributes to IT unity through its integrations with other IT disciplines. It ensures that each Target Architecture, a milestone along the Enterprise Architecture Roadmap, furthers the strategic alignment while balancing short-term and long-term objectives. The resulting models and documents provide direction for the subsequent IT disciplines that develop and operate IT solutions.

Through Architecture Governance, professionals executing the IT disciplines are assured that their efforts are focused on doing the right things for the right reasons.

__ Joseph Starwood (

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Times They Are a-Changin' __ Bob Dylan

Are you an ‘IT professional’? Are you sure about that?

In We’re Not in IT Anymore, an executive survey results analysis, the Corporate Executive Board “…predicts that three out of every four IT roles will either migrate to business services, evolve into business roles, or will be externalized by 2015.” (

Those who have followed my postings know my position: professionals in the IT department are business professionals who know and apply information technology for the benefit of the business! So the results from this survey come as no surprise.

However, the implications are profound. The pace of change will be rapid and far-reaching. According to the Corporate Executive Board “…we are embarking on one of the most significant changes to corporate IT in years.” Some challenges are predictable. Organizational change will place great stress on change management functions and maturity, on Human Resource services, and on individual professionals in existing IT departments.

The Enterprise Architectures within these changing organizations will also be under great stress; testing the robustness, flexibility, and maturity. As Enterprise Architects, we must aid our executives in preparing for this significant change. Our efforts to achieve Business-IT Alignment, between the Business Operating Model and the IT Operating Model (IT Vision), will support a smoother transition.

At “Integrate 2010: Uniting the World of IT”, a two-day conference in Cleveland, Benku Thomas, Nour Laaroubi, and I will present a model for establishing Business-IT Alignment through Enterprise Architecture. ( We also show how to bridge the chasm between strategic and tactical; that is between the Enterprise Architecture and the IT initiatives (Portfolio projects and Asset enhancements).

__ Joseph Starwood (

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Enterprise Architecture Implications of Social Media Influence on Corporate Brand

This morning, I met Brian Butvin for breakfast at Yours Truly Restaurant on Chagrin Boulevard in Beachwood, OH. He is a good friend who I’ve known for 20 years. Brian has remarkable wit and insight. It is always a pleasure to discuss nearly any topic with him.

I as drove to this breakfast meeting, I was intrigued by a radio program, “Living on Earth”, broadcast on WKSU. This episode, “BP’s Image Problem”, discussed whether BP's image can survive the oil spill disaster. Naturally, I discussed the program’s content with Brian.

The program’s host, Jeff Young, interviewed John Carroll, a media analyst, about the crisis facing BP’s brand and its sunburst logo. Though social media was not explicitly mentioned, the interview covered Twitter, YouTube, and Google in addition to traditional advertising.

Mr. Carroll observed that, “… BP finds itself in this situation where A) nobody believes a word they say, B) reality trumps PR every time, and C) they can't control their message even if the first two weren't in effect, because there are too many competing voices out there.” In comparing BP’s oil spill crisis to the Tylenol’s product tampering crisis, he also observed that, “Advertising used to be this one-way street, now it's a two way street, it's a conversation. You don't create your brand anymore. You collaborate with consumers to create your brand.”

It is these observations that are of interest to Enterprise Architects. Social media impacts each organization in good circumstances and in bad. It does not matter whether an organization engages in or refrains from social media. Enterprise Architects are investment advisors to the organization’s executives on matters of information technology. They are concerned with costs and risks; including risks arising from social media.

Social media presents new challenges to the Enterprise Architect. Social media extends the enterprise boundaries beyond the organization’s walls. This includes information exchanges and IT assets not under the organization’s control. Social media requires additional attention to exception conditions; especially those associated with moments of corporate crisis. Such conditions may be real or perceived, and may arise from cause, as in BP’s oil spill case, or from criminal activity, as in Tylenol’s product tampering case.

Enterprise Architects must guide their executives toward establishing a Social Media Strategy. This strategy must be aligned with the business strategy and plan as well as the marketing strategy and plan. It must address traditional outbound communications as well as inbound communications. Uniquely, it must also address communications about the organization and its brand that are neither outbound nor inbound. This strategy must cover normal and exception (crisis) conditions, and must address social media’s many forms including text, image, and video.

The Enterprise Architect counsels the organization’s executives on social media’s benefits and risks. The executives must come to understand that avoiding social media or applying reactive policies will not protect the organization. The Enterprise Architect mitigates social media risk by applying information technology to enable the organization to respond quickly and effectively in moments of crisis.

Prudent executives would do well to heed the advice from their Enterprise Architects who can best prepare their organizations to weather the social media storm in times of crisis.

REFERENCE: “BP’s Image Problem”, Living on Earth and World Media Foundation, Broadcast on WKSU, 2010-JUN-12,

__ Joseph Starwood (

Monday, May 24, 2010

Integrate 2010: Uniting the World of IT

I am pleased to announce a very special joint event from NEO-IASA, itSMFusa, NOSQAA, NEO-SPIN, and HDI North Coast Ohio:

Integrate 2010: Uniting the World of IT
June 24-25, 2010 in Cleveland, OH

Keynote Speakers:
  • Scott Ambler. IBM
  • David Cannon, HP
  • George Spalding, Pink Elephant
  • Bob Balassi, Maryville Technologies

In spite of the unequivocal recognition of the need for Business - IT Alignment, the corporate IT departments continue to operate thru the silos of Enterprise Architecture, Application Development and Operations. In order to become a true business enabler, IT must not only deliver services fast but also ensure smooth and cost-effective operations. This requires a holistic approach to designing, delivering and managing IT services across the service lifecycle and mandates systematic integration of processes and tools across Enterprise Architecture, Application Development, and IT Operations.

Integrate 2010 aims to bring professionals from all silos of IT under one roof and draw attention to the critical yet often ignored area of integration of Enterprise Architecture (EA), Application Development (AD) and IT Service Management (ITSM).

An Essential Conference for Professionals in IT
Recent economic, regulatory, and technological events are creating new challenges and opportunities for Northeast Ohio business. Business and IT alignment is needed now more than ever to meet these challenges and capture new opportunities.

Integrate 2010: Uniting the World of IT brings the Enterprise Architecture, Application Development, and Operations disciplines together. Enterprise Architecture is essential to aligning IT with the business, and to establishing the direction for Application Development. This is an important conference for IT & Enterprise Architects as well as their stakeholders.

Scott Ambler has been and remains at the forefront of unifying IT disciplines. He is a thought-leader in Enterprise Unified Process (EUP), Enterprise Architecture, and Agile software development.
NEO-ITEA invites its members and friends to this important conference.

About Scott W. Ambler
Scott Ambler is a software engineer, consultant and author. Currently, he is the Practice Leader Agile Development at IBM Corporation in the IBM Methods group. He is the author of several books focused on the Unified process, Agile software development, the Unified Modeling Language, and CMM-based development. Notable books include: 1] Enterprise Unified Process: Extending the Rational Unified Process; and, 2] The Practical Guide to Enterprise Architecture (with James McGovern, Mike Stevens, James Linn, Vikas Sharan, and Elias Jo)

Event Highlights:
  • Two content-rich days packed with insightful sessions by industry experts in EA, AD and ITSM
  • Four keynotes - One each in the area of EA, AD and ITSM and one dedicated to the integration of these three areas
  • Four tracks (four sessions per track) - One each dedicated to EA, AD and ITSM and one dedicated to the integration of these three areas
  • A joint communique / manifesto extolling the principles of integration of EA, AD and ITSM to be released by industry experts
  • Exhibitor area for vendors
  • To be held within the Greater Cleveland area with target audience from OH, Eastern Michigan, Indiana and Western Pennsylvania


This conference is an incredible value at only $49.oo!

itSMFusa: Dhiraj Gupta, President
NEO-IASA: Joseph Starwood, Secretary

* * *

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Being an “Agile” Signatory

Recently, I posted a Status Update on LinkedIn announcing that I had become an “Agile” Signatory.
Those of you who follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter will know that being an “Agile” Signatory aligns with my overall attitude toward information technology. You may recall some recent posts: “
Enterprise architecture is at the nexus of business and technology”; “IT Architects are business professionals who apply architectural skills; just as other business professionals apply their skills”; and, “Architectural Organic Unity: containing all required & nothing unnecessary, all relationships & integrations being essential & inevitable.
I received an excellent reply from Steve Braver, “This would appear to conflict with your previous update on PM Best Practices, unless your position is that SDLC and Agile can both be valid approaches depending on the nature of the organization and project. That's what I believe.” __ Steve Braver, LinkedIn reply, 2010-APR-29
His thoughtful reply is the inspiration for this posting.
Actually, there is no conflict at all. Project Management methods and Solution Development Lifecycle (SDLC) methods are just that -- methods. Agile is, among other things, an approach to how to best tailor and apply a method – it is a mind-frame.
As I've read "The Enterprise Unified Process: Extending the Rational Unified Process" and "A Practical Guide to Enterprise Architecture", I've come to realize that I applied an Agile approach even when I worked with DoD standards. Many people think that DoD standards imply a boxcar load of documentation and process. However, that is not true. I was taught to tailor the DoD standards to just what was needed for the project. I've always taken a business-oriented suitably-tailored approach regardless of the method at hand: DoD, NASA, FIPS, Hoskyns, Method-1, GS-Method, and RUP.
RUP, which is extended to the EUP and AUP, can be performed "Agile" or not. In fact, I recently (a few years back) worked with a client that over-engineered RUP with process and documentation. It became quite unwieldy as well as entirely unnecessary. I observed that the tendency to over-engineer process and documentation was linked to a profound lack of understanding of a subject -- in this case, RUP.
I’ll continue to read these two books until I complete them. I am sure I’ll learn much more, However, at this point from reading and experience, I see no conflict between having methods and being Agile.
__ Joseph Starwood (

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rattlesnakes Sunning

Spring’s warming sun is here. Warming in the sun is the inspiration for this posting.
I began my professional life as a Minerals Exploration Geologist & Geophysicist. I prospected for copper, molybdenum, silver, and gold from central Texas to northern California.
One brief project in Southeastern Arizona was led by a Geologist who had recently received his Masters degree. With the exception of academic field work, this new Geologist had never lived and worked in the wilderness.
On our first full day at the prospect location, we took geochemical samples together from early morning through mid-afternoon. Our work plan began at our base camp, extended out in a loop covering several abandoned mine sites, and returned to our starting point.
Sampling a very large mine site at far end of the prospect area required more work and time than planned. As we worked, I noticed the sun getting lower in the sky, and shadows extending on the east-facing hillsides.
Rattlesnakes would soon move onto the rocks in those growing shadows to warm themselves. Hiking back to our base camp would be very dangerous once the sun was behind the hillcrest.
I advised my colleague about the danger, and the need to work our way back to the base camp. We had sampled only half of the mine site, and he wanted to complete the work.
After further urging, he finally agreed to leave this mine site; provided that we take some quick samples at the remaining mine sites on the way back. As we peered into the next mine site, a horizontal tunnel into the rock face, we spotted a large rattlesnake moving toward the entrance.
This new Geologist asked, “Is that what I think it is?” I replied, “Yes. It’s a big one; the second biggest I’ve seen yet. It’s moving to the warm rocks.” Seeing this, he decided to return immediately to our base camp. We completed our geochemical sampling the next day.
So what does this have to do with information technology? Much! Experienced professionals know many things that less experienced professionals do not, as well as many things that are not taught in school or written in books.
Tom Bilcze, my colleague in our IT Department, shared this reply in response to one of my postings:
“I think a general perception in IT is that architecture immediately implies complexity and more cost. … I guess the success of architectural simplicity is to actually see it being used as a natural work process and not being deemed as an overhead and unnecessary evil.”
__ Tom Bilcze, 2010-APR-20, Reply to Status Update on LinkedIn
Enterprise Architects and IT Architects face constant challenges from other IT professionals regarding architecture’s apparent complexity and cost as well as its purpose and value. Unfortunately, these IT professionals are not experienced in Enterprise Architecture and IT Architecture.
These IT professionals most often encounter Enterprise Architecture and IT Architecture through the Target Architectures (a.k.a. Project Start Architectures) provisioned to their projects. Because the Target Architectures address requirements and constraints in the context of the broader Enterprise Architecture, it appears to the project team as being more complex and costly as compared to developing the project in a silo.
However, businesses can no longer afford to develop IT solutions in silos. Business agility depends upon flexible and resilient IT components including services, applications, and COTS packages as well as their integration.
A well-crafted Target Architecture meets the requirements and constraints allocated to the project, and it conforms to the assigned milestone in the Enterprise Architecture Roadmap. It possesses “Architectural Organic Unity” (See: Prior posting).
Such a Target Architecture provides the flexibility required to realize business agility, advances the Enterprise Architecture according to the Roadmap, and establishes the foundation for IT project success.
__ Joseph Starwood (

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Organic Unity in Information Technology Architecture

Organic Unity in Information Technology Architecture is this: containing all that is required and nothing that is unnecessary or distracting, with all relationships and integrations being essential and inevitable; no element can be added or removed, no part can be changed in character or placement, and no integration can be changed in association or contract without degrading or destroying the whole.
__ Joseph Starwood (

Friday, January 8, 2010

Social Tapestry: Enabling business multi-dimensionally

Dear Nexus Muses:
Happy New Year!
I am sure that many of you made some resolutions for the New Year. Perhaps you want to improve your health, get more exercise, or spend more quality time with family and friends. The point is that you make changes this year to be different than you were in prior years.
Change is the subject of this posting. Technology changes the ways companies can and do conduct business. I will examine one way in which technology is changing the business world.
Social media is very popular topic in business circles today. Companies are trying to figure out if and how to use it, and what policies to set around it. A recent search for "Social Media" on Google returned more than 37,500,000 entries, and on Forbes returned more than 470 stories, most written since 2007. [; Accession 2010JAN08] [; Accession 2010JAN08]
Social media disseminates information through social interactions. For businesses, this means that word-of-mouth, for better or worse, moves at the speed of light.
Most of these interactions are outside the control of the company. A company posting a communication through social media controls only the release. For example, your company “Tweets” about a new product feature or special offer to its Twitter followers. Some followers may “Re-Tweet” the message to their followers, and so on. Other interactions are completely outside the company’s control. For example, a customer posts a comment about an excellent service experience with your company on Facebook.
Social media interactions between a company and its suppliers, partners, intermediaries, and customers are the simplest to consider. Other social media interactions must be considered; among the suppliers, intermediaries, and customers; among candidates and employees; and, outward to the global online community. Collectively, the web of social media interactions form a tapestry
Last August, I introduced the term “Social Tapestry”. It describes the multi-dimensional interactions with customers, intermediaries, partners, suppliers, employees, candidates, and the online world. Social media enables multidimensional interactions. It also enhances and amplifies the business capabilities of other channels including portal, call center, telephony, fax, e-mail, business intelligence, and direct in-person contact.
Successful businesses must adopt a multi-dimensional integrated approach to social media. They must effectively communicate their message into the social media space. They must effectively monitor and respond to other messages about their products and services. The most important thing that companies can and must control is their reputation; the quality of their products, services, and relationships. Even if a company does not communicate through social media, others surely will.
__Joseph Starwood (