After seven years of applying TOGAF in BI architectures for logistics, finance and marketing, it is time to open the debate on adapting TOGAF for analytical purposes.
With the coming of the Internet of Things and other Big Data tidal waves, enterprise architects are under great pressure to deliver meaningful roadmaps to deal with these phenomena.
I sincerely hope my readers will contribute and improve the quality of the BI deliverables from a TOGAF perspective and vice versa.
TOGAF for analytics, three architecture domains
Business Intelligence is a clearly defined business capability: decision making, based on fact-based analytics to improve overall organizational performance. It interfaces on three levels: the business architecture, the data architecture and the application architecture. The technology architecture isn’t included as BI is agnostic to network and middleware protocols and processing standards.
Yet, not everybody agrees with this three-layered view. A quick search on the Web delivers a more restricted view: business and data. That’s all.
Hennie de Nooijer’s blog states the following: Where is BI positioned in TOGAF? You need to understand the business perspective (baseline and target) and you need to understand how BI could aid the target business perspective in such a way that it can benefit from BI. And BI is much about data and there the data perspective is also specific area of interest in case of BI.
BIZZdesign, a leading Archimate Enterprise Architecture provider uses DAMA’s DMBOK to connect these concepts with business capabilities. Yet a two dimensional (data-business) view like this is not taking into account how applications support the data definition, data capturing and data usage in operational environments and isn’t operational BI a discipline in itself?
Bas van Gils, from BIZZdesign states:
• Transaction systems directly supporting business processes maintain data at a low level of granularity
• Business Intelligence is a query, analysis, and reporting capability of the organization that provides insight in historical and aggregated data of the organization
• A data warehouse (EDW) is a technical environment that enables Business Intelligence
If this is the premise, then I understand why BIZZdesign reduces BI EA to a business – data aspect. But if you accept that Business Intelligence delivers drill paths to the lowest level of granularity and BI is not just about tactical and strategic decision making then the application view comes in to play. Both source and target applications complete the picture. With “source applications” the transaction systems and external data sources are described as they influence the capabilities of the BI system. I use “target applications” to describe well designed solutions derived from the BI system like fraud detection, churn management, preventive maintenance etc…
To paraphrase a well-known dictum from a Finnish architect “Always design a decision support system by considering it in its next larger context": the way we make decisions based on data, the way we gather and publish data, the way these data are created and used in transaction systems. And, to close the loop, the way we materialise aspects from our world view by defining our data requirements in operations and decision making.
The business architecture looks at the strategy, governance, organization and the key business processes. In all of these the BI aspect is omnipresent:
strategy: “What do we need to know to form, formulate and execute our strategy with a maximum level of confidence?”
governance: “What is our universe of discourse and what are the key definitions everybody needs to know to communicate effectively?”
organization: “Which functions, levels, key people need to have access to which information?”
key business processes: “What Critical Success Factors (CSF) and their related Key Performance Indicators (KPI) do we define, track and manage?”
The answers to these high level questions can be considered as the key business requirements from a business perspective.
The data architecture of the logical and physical data assets is derived from the business architecture. Conformed dimensions and facts from the ultimate target model and the lineage from source to this ultimate target model as well as the patterns for transforming the source data into the ultimate target model are managed in this domain.
Note that I introduce the term “ultimate target model” as there can be many intermediate target models along the way: from Hadoop file systems with schema on read and/or staging tables via 3NF or data vault or in a virtualized environment to end up in a Star schema which can be linked to a file system and/or a graph data is the present state of the art.
The generic Enterprise BI architecture on application level illustrates how important requirements are met:
In case unstructured data from texts and social media are used in Hadoop files systems, the (structured) results can be integrated in the enterprise data warehouse to provide extra context.
Transaction systems data may pass through a data vault as this guarantees flexibility when source systems change because of changing business processes and the ensuing requirements changes.
The Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) is a bottom up process based grouping of Star schemas sharing conformed dimensions. These conformed dimensions make sure everybody in the organisation has a consistent view of the facts. In case the data vault undergoes changes, the EDW needs to follow as well as the data marts. In case the data mart is process based, it is a physical part of the EDW, in case the data mart is based on business functions, it is built on top of the EDW, grouping and aggregating data from the EDW.
|A generic architecture from an analytical perspective|
The application architecture in TOGAF’s definition deals with the interactions and relationships to core business processes of the organisation. It is easy to start a discussion on what is and what isn’t a core business process as this depends on the type of organisation. From a BI perspective these are the business processes that are core to any organisation:
collecting information from a business and technology perspective.
The business perspective deals of data collection deals with certain CSF and KPI that influence the reliability of the source data. E.g. a contact centre assistant whose principal KPI is average handling time will find all sorts of shortcuts to log data and will probably omit important information in his after call wrap up process as he gets a bonus when exceeding the expected number of calls per day.
From a technology perspective, the data formats, the transformation rules per source system, the audit trail and archiving prescriptions are managed in this domain. The focus is on governing data quality and data integrity and security to produce reliable information to authorised users. The objective is aimed at decision making: who decides what and needs which supporting information to make the best possible decision at reasonable cost. This aspect is often lacking in BI architectures leading to a forest of “nice to haves” where the “must haves” get lost.
Managing the Analytics ADM
|TOGAF's architecture development method|
Most applications have been developed from a process support perspective and less from an information management perspective. Take a high level requirement like “I want to manage my inventory processes better, avoid leakage, depletion and high inventory carrying costs”. This requirement led to an nifty ERP module that has all the functionality to deliver. Later on, BI requirements are formulated to support cross functional decision making areas like “I want to optimise my service level” which includes marketing data and customer satisfaction metrics like Net Promoter Scores with comments in text form. This may lead to rework in the ERP source system as well as a complete review of how customer satisfaction data are gathered and stored. In other words, analytical requirements are an important –maybe the principal- component in requirements management for the overall architecture development method.