The architect’s role is moving up the stack, more and more often finding a seat at the table of important business discussions. Like architecture itself, strategy is the kind of thing that many people agree is important, find tantalizing, and want to do, but fewer understand what this strategy actually means or looks like. Architects and CTOs often find themselves called upon to create their organization’s technology strategy. That sounds fantastic until you realize that even as a skilled architect, you don’t actually know what the parts of a strategy are, what should be included in your deliverable, how you can research and understand it according to a method, and how to package it all up. You have a sneaking suspicion that simply writing “microservices in the cloud” will be met with approval, but it’s also wildly underwhelming and isn’t what’s really desired, expected, or needed. So what is? What is a “good” technology strategy, and what tools and patterns can you use to create one that’s meaningful, impactful, executable, and operational?
Architects have a variety of well-known frameworks and tools to create representations of architecture at the level they’re comfortable with, whether application architecture or data architecture. They might use tools like UML or Erwin within the context of well-understood frameworks such as TOGAF or Zachmann, with a set of established patterns. At the same time, strategists from firms like Bain and McKinsey and management thought leaders like Michael Porter of Harvard helped introduce the concepts of strategy into the business world, creating a set of patterns that executives use in planning how to marshal their resources to understand what markets to enter, what companies to acquire, what products to invest in, and how to organize for success. But there’s a gap at the intersection of technology and strategy. Today more than ever, the two are necessarily intertwined, yet architects and strategists do not enjoy a common language or a shared, accepted understanding of how something as critical as technology strategy is represented. Left without a clear framework or comprehensive representation, strategy documents often end up as haphazard, unrefined, unsupportable decks that cannot be executed or operationalized through to success.
Eben Hewitt explains what the world’s top strategy firms can teach us about the intersection of strategic thinking and architecture to fill that gap and outlines a framework, process, and set of tools that will help you create a powerful technology strategy for your organization. Eben starts with what strategy is and what its accepted tools and patterns are, including SWOT, Porter’s Five Forces, PESTEL, Futures Funnels, radars, and more. He then explains what a business executive is really looking for in a technology strategy—and what they need to see from an architect (even if they don’t know themselves). You’ll leave able to apply these tested tools and techniques to represent your technology strategy in a way that will help you succeed.
Eben Hewitt is chief technology officer at Sabre, a multibillion-dollar global software company serving the travel industry. Previously, he was chief architect and vice president of product development at Sabre, CTO at one of the world’s largest hotel companies, and the CIO of O’Reilly Media. He has also been a book series editor. Eben is the author of several technical books published by O’Reilly, including Cassandra: The Definitive Guide and Java SOA Cookbook, and contributed to 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know and a number of other software development books and technical articles. Eben is an award-winning software architect and has been an invited speaker at technology conferences around the world.
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