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Is There Really an Enterprise Architecture Market?

Blog: Mark McGregor's Process Performance Blog

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner EA Conference in London. Although the event appeared to be well attended from a delegate perspective, the same cannot be said for the exhibitors! There were only 9 of them – Alfabet, Architecting the Enterprise, Casewise, IBM, iterplan, MEGA, Metastorm, Software AG and Troux.

Seeing so few vendors present led me to ask the question, is there really an Enterprise Architecture market. Sure there are greater numbers of people talking about EA, attending events and joining groups, but this alone does not create a market. If one was to add together the EA revenues of all the players present I estimate that the sum would be at a maximum $100m, then if we add in the revenues of other vendors not present we might get to around $200-$300m, not an insignificant number, but in software terms not really enough to make a market.

I may not be alone in my assessment, looking at the signage of the booths and talking with the vendors, even they seem uncertain. Alfabet were at pains to point out to me that they were not an EA player, but an IT planning tool vendor (apparently they only play in EA because Gartner say they are in the EA space!), MEGA seem to be playing increasingly in the GRC (Governance, Compliance & Risk) market, although they still had an EA story – as an aside they were making an interesting claim, they suggest that they are the only EA vendor that is profitable and debt free, I am not certain about this claim. Iteraplan told me that they are really a consulting company with a tool for their customers to use. Metastorm are mainly a BPM vendor, only playing in EA as a result of their acquisition of Proforma. Software AG with IDS Scheer talk to EA, but seem more rooted in BPA and now SOA and middleware.  From what I could see, at the event at least only Casewise and Troux appeared to be seriously promoting EA (Others such as MEGA did talk to it, but it did not seem there key message).

Changes are apparently afoot at Gartner too, some of the vendors told me that this year will see a revamp of the EA magic quadrant, with open source tools and other small vendors being included. A sure sign that Gartner too feel that they are not getting enough traction in their EA practice (from vendors).

While at the event I also managed to catch up with Brian Burke, Gartner VP, it is nearly 8 years since I sat down and recorded an interview on the state of the EA market with Brian, so a catch up was long overdue.

According to Brian “EA as a discipline is intended to solve a wide variety of problems IT/Business and Application oriented, it is intended to provide insight and enable organizations to be more proactive. However, for the most part it has not been focused enough on the the high impact business problems. A skilled EA knows how to cut through the noise and to focus narrowly on only the key business problems and then delivers value against those quickly.” Brian also reminded me that too many people “still think of EA as and end in and of itself.”

I also asked Brian about how he saw the market changes over the past few years, as it seemed that the products in the space did not seem to have evolved much. He shared some thoughts which best remain private, but did point out that there are now more people doing EA than there were before. He did seem to suggest, though not in as many words, that perhaps the EA space was more of a focused niche than a full market.

His final thoughts were that perhaps “EA could do more to assist with looking ad the value added activities and managing in a boundary less world.”

The other fashion that seems to be taking hold is around Business Architecture (indeed I recently wrote a paper which Casewise bought on this subject, 7 Steps to BA Success you can get a copy via http://bit.ly/b4YZiu) This causes me to wonder if EA belongs to an age of Data Centricity, whereas today in a world of process centricity Business Architecture may make more sense, maybe it has a greater emphasis on those value adds that Brian talked off.

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