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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Closing the Innovation Gap (My Last Post Here)

Before I Start

You may have noticed that this blog’s subject matter covers EA practices, challenges and strategy but does not say much about technology. While this has been important over the past few years to move EA out of a pure-play technologist role, I think it is time for a change.

Writing about emerging technology and innovation is what my new employer, Forrester Research, hired me to do for its EA clients. I think it is both a good fit for me and for the practice in general. I’ll say more about my research coverage and why I think this at the end of this post. For now, please read on as I depart this URL with a challenge that we must rise to now - closing the innovation gap.

While We Weren’t Looking, a Gap Opened

In our scramble to meet the demands of two opposing forces, we have allowed an innovation gap to arise in our organizations. The forces:

Answering the business’ call for change. Change is a byproduct of business competition in a free market, and we must foster it. Those who adapt to changing conditions and most quickly seize new opportunities will prosper. My colleague Henry Peyret just published some great research on business agility that examines this very issue in more depth.

Taming the current state and managing technology TCO. Our current state is generally too expensive and too complex for the value delivered. As EAs, we spend much of our time dealing with this.

These two forces appear opposed - one calls us to the new and innovative, while the other drives us to limit, standardize and simplify, often to the detriment of innovation. These forces are not naturally opposed, but our approach to solving the dilemma makes often makes them so.

What is this gap? How do we balance our approach and close it?

The Gap — Not Fast or Cheap Enough

Simply put, we are not delivering innovation and new technology fast and cheaply enough, forcing the business to do it itself.

Shadow IT is the effect of this gap and has been the thorn in the side of in centralized IT for years. Traditional IT thinking says, “Stop the business from innovating with technology! That’s our job.”

Rather than fight, there is a better way, and getting to this better way is inevitable. The only question is, how long will it take?

How do we move from trusted utility to business technology partner? How do we both empower the business and keep systems safe and data secure? How do we get ahead of emerging technologies to help close the innovation gap? That is the subject of my research - and I invite you to collaborate with me in figuring out how to make this happen.

In concluding part 1 of this post, I am pulling a dirty trick and shameless plug for Forrester by asking that you follow me over to my first post on the Forrester site. I will pick up the conversation there, offer some ideas about how we might act to close the gap and provide a preview into some of my research.

Your readership has been important and continues to be important. Thank you again.

Brian Hopkins
Principal Analyst

Work Phone: +1 617-613-8920 | Email:

About Me

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Brian has 21 years of engineering and technology leadership including 12 years as an IT professional. As an Enterprise Architect, Brian has been a leader in establishing Enterprise Architecture Practices in both the Financial Services and Defense industries. He has led the development and implementation of information management strategies, established architecture governance processes, and led multimillion dollar, multiyear program teams. In addition, Brian has extensive experience with web interoperability and data exchange standards established by the W3C and OASIS.