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How a Fresh Approach to Enterprise Architecture Drives Transformation at DuPont Pioneer R&D

DuPont Pioneer, the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics and seeds, is executing an organizational transformation of its R&D data management approaches to better coordinate architecture planning and transparency. I recently spoke with R&D Architect, Gene Shoykhet, about the challenges they faced in mapping their architecture in a time of rapid change.

Markets are shifting rapidly, leading to increased product pipelines, shortened product lifecycles, shifts in customer expectations and even entirely new business and organizational models.

These business-level changes have resulted in new technology deployments, continuous internal reorganizations and merger and acquisition activity as organizations attempt to adapt and find the strategy that will deliver competitive advantage.

The increasing complexity and interconnected nature of the supporting technology stack multiplies the inherent risk of change. As organizations attempt to make more changes more rapidly, the implications broaden and the possibility of unforeseen consequences increases.

The traditional approach to managing these change-induced risks has been to use enterprise architecture (EA) frameworks such as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), and EA management systems that enable organizations to model and analyze their complex environments. But while necessary for compliance and related requirements, these approaches actually introduce more complexity, demand high levels of organizational maturity, and ultimately fail to deliver the ability to manage change effectively.

The need for data integration and synergy at DuPont Pioneer

DuPont Pioneer found itself with this need to manage rapid change in a large and complex environment. As a research organization, it has a wide range of technologies and processes that create coordination challenges and difficulty integrating data between research areas.

It needed to combine both its organization and its supporting systems to improve its data integration capabilities and to derive further insights from its data.

“I looked across all of our systems and found that it was hard to identify all of the dependencies and interconnections between our systems,” explained Shoykhet. “So I started with a blank slate and asked people what they had and what they were working on. The need for a tool became immediately apparent.”

Seeking speed and flexibility

As it began its search, DuPont Pioneer quickly realized it needed a tool that would offer it the flexibility to rapidly build a repository of its systems and get full visibility without getting caught up in the formality of the process.

“We didn’t want a tool that forced us to follow a model that was not appropriate for an R&D organization, and that would instead create a burden for us,” shared Shoykhet. “We didn’t need the kind of compliance or regulatory benefits of something like TOGAF. We just needed to understand what our systems were doing and where our data was flowing so that we could plan our architecture and have a single place to see all of the connections and potential impacts.”

DuPont Pioneer selected SAMU by Atoll. It found that SAMU’s ease-of-use was critical as it enabled its teams to start quickly and begin gaining insights from the tool immediately.

Shoykhet explained that with SAMU, DuPont Pioneer could start with very small amounts of systems and logical information — even if it was incomplete — and still gain value and insights. It didn’t encounter the heavy upfront work that was common in competing tools.

It found that SAMU’s best-practice meta model covered 95% of its needs enabling it to start quickly. By the end of their three-week initiation process, it had modeled almost 25% of their applications and had a roadmap for the rest of the process. It found that SAMU’s simple approach enabled it to model everything from business processes down to IoT sensors with a common meta model — enabling it to spend more time on analysis rather than on managing the modeling process.

Enabling organizational transformation

While speed and flexibility were critical, it was the tool’s ability to help drive organizational adoption and transformation that was the greatest, albeit unexpected, benefit.

“We were surprised by how quickly we could model our environment,” enthused Shoykhet. “Now, we have a lot of people in the organization asking for access to the SAMU system. They see the value of having everything documented and the benefit of seeing how things are interconnected. They are uncovering connections they didn’t know existed as different groups model their systems.”

Shoykhet explained that teams modeled their own area and saw how they co-existed within the larger system. The result was that rather than resist, teams embraced the process — giving the organization the ability to execute its internal integration much faster.

Laying a foundation for the future

While this initial integration is important, the team at DuPont Pioneer realize that this is the beginning, not the end. With the expected merger of parent company DuPont and Dow Chemical, the team will need to integrate another group into the fold. And they know that as the pace continues to quicken, change will be constant.

By leveraging SAMU, they believe that they now have the capability to rapidly and effectively manage change as it comes — without needing an army of architects to manage the environment. This capability enables DuPont Pioneer to maintain visibility and transparency as the environment shifts and evolves over time — which may make all the difference as the ability to execute organizational transformation becomes a competitive advantage.

The Intellyx Take

The transition into the digital era is affecting every company in every industry. Organizations must cope with fast-moving markets and changing customer expectations. The inevitable result is that everything that was once mostly static within enterprise organizations is now in a constant state of flux.

Organizations must create capabilities that enable them to manage their technology architectures, systems and data flows while in a constant state of change — and to do it in a way that creates advantage. By focusing on simplicity, ease-of-use and fluidity, tools like SAMU offer organizations the ability to effectively manage change and drive continuous organizational transformation.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Atoll is an Intellyx client. At the time of writing, none of the other organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx clients. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.

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More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.