EP 21: Redefining Enterprise Architecture in Support of Business Enablement w/ Karthik Ranganathan

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

During this era defined by business transformation, companies must continually reinvent themselves in order to keep up with market trends. To support this transformation, enterprise architecture needs to transition beyond being purely technology-centric to being a business enabler.

In this episode, host André Christ speaks with Karthik Ranganathan , CTO at SupportNinja, about how enterprise architecture is being redefined today.

The two also discuss whether we’re expecting too much from enterprise architects right now, what strategies to apply to a business capability map, and how to enable organizations to continuously transform.

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to the Unleash IT Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Listening on a desktop and can’t see the links? Just search for Unleash IT in your favorite podcast player.

How do we become not just the infrastructures and trick and a brush architecture where we've been in the past, right like Togaf and some of patients, but more towards how do I adapt? What's a business value that we're trying to drive and what are the outcomes? Welcome to unleash it, a podcast where we discuss the experiences and ideas behind what's working in enterprise architecture and digital transformation within the IT landscape. Unlock your businesses digital capabilities, transform your enterprise architecture. Unleash it. Let's get into the show. Welcome to this episode of the a leash it podcast. Companies undergoing continuous transformation of being challenged to continually remark their businesses, and enterprise architecture is looking to support this evolution. In order to help companies adapt to market conditions, enterprise architecture itself must changed. Today's guests on unleash it is crtique ran Nathan, the CTEO at support, Ninja and outsourcing firm that provides customer support, technical support, bike office support, content moderation and lead mining services. Previously, Cutique was chief enterprise architect at entity data and tit alina x customer champion. Cutique is a member of forps technology council, in invitation only, community comprised of leading CIOS, citeos and technology executives, and as worked in positions including HB partner executive and head of platform strategy at global consute and see Cap Gemini, I'm very excited to have you on this podcast, critique, so welcome to the episode. Let us know more about your background and your role today. Thank you. It's a pleasure to be on the PODCAST. Right my role from a CTR standpoint or technologist and enter price architecture being about enabling business. The key focus that we'd look at is four years the ID functions. I've always been treated as a largely support here's the sap platforms and good, minister, maintain it, but the innovation pieces, advent of new technologies is largely business led and what tends to happen is is after the fact they've now look at it to said, okay, we would like you to support it, we would like you to scale as we've run programs around automation, data analytics and business process as a service. One of the things that's been important this is how do you affectively partner with the business steams? So you become a technology advocate, business and enabler. Right. That's been the key function, that being crucial for being a strategic partner or essentially being an enterprise architect and today's world. Great, let us know a bit about more about the business you're in as a CEO Today. So maybe you can explain a bit about like what are the challenges you are not facing as a CEO at Support Ninja? Is that so? How would you how would you describe that? Support Ninja is a very unique company. So Support Ninja's client very from startups that are bootstrapped to entities that are series be seriously funded, right to fortune ten clients. Right, the primary focus where we look at this is where the support company that helps you scale when you're trying to launch a new product, because when you're focused on launching a new product, you're focused on product development, not product support. Right. What's the Road Map look like? How do I get this...

...out? What's my market window? And that's your primary focus. So a lot of times you do evolvement feedback to say what's my market? What's the adoption rate look like? Right, and some of these could be augmented reality views, some of these could be new games. Right. How you do that feedback mechanism on that first launch versus the second soft launch versus the third before you get the Gi it's a very different structure. Right. So Support Ninja actually focuses on that space and where the company that helps you scale. So think of it. Is Not a play on words, but we're essentially support as a service. How do we enable that life cycle? And this company's being in business since two thousand and sixteen, two thousand and seventeen, right, the to coil founders are, you know, Connor Tom Keys are CEO, and Craig Wrestler, who is our CEO, and the growth that they've led year on year, as is the third year we made the ink Onezo list. Right, in two thousand and eighteen we had a year on your growth of sixteen hundred plus percent. Two Thousand and nineteen was six hundred eighty eight percent, two thousand and twenty was three hundred ninety nine percent. Right. So that's tremendous growth. That's continued to happen here on here and it's absolutely fantastic place to be. Great. Yeah, not. That's fascinating to to year about that. What I see is at that we're currently at a unique juncture where companies are being forced to transform themselves in response to the pandemic and other forces, and you touched a bit on how enterprise architecture is being redefined today. Let us double down a bit more on that. So how do you think Enterprise Arctic and needs to change to Cata for all the transformations? If you look at couple of key areas, what the endemic has forced us to do right, we've truly enabled a digital workplace. So, as an example, under you and I are on a call, collaborating and doing this podcast, but we're on two different continents and what's it's allowed us to do is operate as one global virtual team. But it's also created the importance of focus. If you'd look at every company has paid more attention to its employees, mental health, to its customers, mental health, learning patterns right then they ever have. At the last eighteen months as forced us to acknowledge these things in a more transparent manner then we've ever had to deal what. So, if I look at it from where enterprise architecture can help write so today companies do like Checkens, daily Checkens, things like that. Some companies use lack, some companies use teams. What they do. And you look at your daily Checkens, daily stand up, if you can now correlate that with your work patterns. Right. I'm not talking about productivity measurements. I'm talking about saying, okay, say cart the CPS working really effectively Monday through Wednesday, but there's some issues that I have on Thursdays. Right, so I'm distracted. If you see that as a pattern or a period of time, you're able to quickly identify to say is that because of a personal issue or is that because the type of things that happen on Thursday's? Right, what is it you can now correlated with? If it's personally sue, here's a learning program here are some things you can correlate that with. If it's a technology driven issue, type of work being done, right, you can now correlate that with some of these things. So we're we're seeing enterpress...

...architecture be a key is is you have multiple SASS relations. Right. So, if you look at learning as an example, you have, you know, courses, curriculum, things like that coming out a lescently. You can also do quizzes, things like that, either off of quiz or you can do cohood good life things. You can do check ins in various tools. Now, how do I bring all those together into a cohesive view so that my head of people relations, my head of employee relations right, can say here's the impact on that employee. So how do I create that framework that becomes a differentiator for enterprise architecture to look at right, it's how do I pick each individuals as solution into a string that connects the dots across the board to drive that business impact right, and that is where I see an enterprise architecture can morphin into. Is Is, how do we become not just the infrastructures and trick and a brush architecture where we've been in the past, right, like togaff and some of these things, but more towards how do I adapt what's a business value that we're trying to drive and what are the outcomes? And this often means also communicating it well within like the C suites, right, so being able to express what is the benefit or what is the outcome of a specific roadmap you're developing or of of like a change in the landscape. Maybe give me a feedback. I think one of the challenges is always that we expect from an enterprise architect, on the one hand side, to understand the technology, really the value, on the other hand side, to be an extremely well communicator. Aren't we expecting too much of enterprise architects? We are, but it's also the fact where I felt look at it right one of the first things that we let that right from a Lena I extend point. The first time I used it was the business capability map, where it actually shows the breath of conversation. So we need to have right it's not just with finance, it's not just with marketing, it's an enterprise support product products all the way through the the corporate strategy in the Management Team, and that's where I would look at it to go. One of the biggest lessons learned was as using that capability map to drive that sea sweet conversation instead of being a it centric view. Right. So, and that's where I think there's a shift happening. Is is because a lot of the enterprise architects have been more focused on it and it only connecting the beach. There was thought this as an advent of like the business architects, trying to bridge that gap right. But that's where we need to have and ultimately it comes down to is corporate culture and work works best. But we need that business architect enterprise architect to come together to be able to have that C sweet conversation and that's where having tools like the Lena xis business capability map that walks you throw across that is extremely helpful. The other ones I've seen are like the business value of it right. They're different frameworks that have come out, but everybody's trying to address how do we enable that and then enable career path and growth for the enterprise arc. This is extremely helpful to understand. Can we spend a bit more time on the topic of business capabilities? Some of our customers use the pace lay of strategy, two different create into where our innovation capabilities whereas differentiation needed and were as commodity and it from there they're deriving the...

...strategies of item, so, for example, having more standardization for all the commodity capabilities or where we have innovation capabilities, there to focus on custom developed products which actually are so unique and really contain the USP of the company. How do you think about that? Have you used like the paste layer strategy before for that, or what other types can you recommend to actually then apply to a business capability map? Pace slayer is probably the most relevant that's out there right. One that we've been experimenting a little bit with this is how do we embrace a innovation first culture? And this is a difficult topic when we look at it as it right, because it folks are default, are risk coverse. Right. We are challenged to continuously meet the four nines availability, and I use the baseball analogy right, if you were to go to somebody in it and say it's okay for you to be wrong seven times out at ten and that will never happen, make sense, because if you're wrong seven times out at ten and it your fired. But if you're essentially at three hundred, right, so you hit three times out of ten, your fantastic baseball player for that season, and if you did four out of ten, so you're badding four hundred, then you're for sure a hall of Famer, and that's where it's important to think about it in that context. So where I see some of the changes that have happened right. So if you look at how the VC firms look at investment and what their success rates things of those are. It's between three and five percent, not thirty percent, not fifty percent. It's bowing three and five percent success. So where we need to can create that ecosystem is is how do we quickly fail right? How do we identify some of these innovation ideas, prioritize it and go try it out and then see, okay, based on that, right, we're expecting a certain outcome. If we didn't achieve that outcome, what did we learn from that process? What work well? What didn't work well? What do we need to course correct? Can you provide an example how you then leverage the do you leverage the business capabilities to moderate this process? Okay, I can imagine like mapping out all the innovation ideas into capabilities so that you understand. Where do you have a lot of ideas gathered? Is that a way how you do it, or maybe you can help que an example that way to give you a red like last year when the pandemics started, and can I go on through it? March was largely focused on sending people home and making sure that from it standpoint. We had all the tools, making sure that people had VPN, getting everything going. We started looking at it. The more we learned about some of these things, contact racing became a key criteria. So we came up with a lot of solutions and ideas on how we could do contact racing and what the screening things would be, guidance, things like that. But what became very quick quis because the market was still changing right like the CDC guidelines were still changing. In June July we went from no, we're not coming back to the office, no, you're not coming back to a restaurant to while you can open at twenty five percent capacity. The question is, is at twenty five percent capacity if we get the C sweet back in the office for a meeting, so the CEO, the CEFO and the CEO or a meeting together. So that's only twenty five...

...percent of the entire board and leadership. But if one person's Admin was impacted or the CEO was impacted, very quickly, what would have happened was is the CEO, CFO and CEO, because they are in that meeting, all three would have been impacted. So then you've essentially taken away the leadership of the firm without having that. So how do you get to a risk score? Who is allowed to come back in? So the business capability map can started overlaying that. Then you looked at it from a risk standpoint to say, okay, it's not just twenty five percent, but it's twenty five percent at this great level with these things. So you now started to overlay the go okay, we cannot have like the entire marketing team coming into the office. Or if three people came in, right, they could be twenty five percent of the staff, but that could be the entire marketing team. So if they're impacted, you're not going to hire somebody new within two weeks or three weeks. Right, as you manage just quarantine. But how do you start overlaying some of these things? So that was an impact. If you look at travel and hospitality, the impact of the brand, right, so if somebody got sick at a hotel because they came in contact with the hotel employee, so that became an impact. So you start thinking about these things and this is where we actually built a Iot enabled solution right awhereble. So part of the things that you start thinking about it is it's not just the tech of how you look at it right, and where the business capability, a key factor from a strategy standpoint, came in. Was this, who's going to pay for this? Nobody had anticipated that they would need some of these solutions, right. So if when we start talking about these things in August and September, back to work solutions, nobody had a budget for the second thing was is nobody knew how long they needed a solution. So are you going to spend something without knowing? Is this for the next thirty days, ninety days, how long, like? What do I do after? Because what we've seen this is there was a time when last year everybody was talking about the new normal, and now we're talking about is the new normal is we want everybody back on the office. It's not new, we just want the old normal. We want to go back to like the twenty eighteen s right. So part of the things is how do you adapt and how do you adjust? So, and that's where the lens of okay, the strategy, stamp and can I came in, was just to go we don't know what we done know today. So why are we asking our clients for a long term commitment or a solution. Why are why don't we come as a strategic partner? To think of it as ninety days service contracts, as a service. Here's what it is. No long term commitments. Some of these things right, and that's where to have in that business capability map, and that view kind of starts overlaying that in today's context to say where do we want to do it, what's next and how quickly you adapt, because it helps you focus on the time to market and what is the market window? This is almost a perfect segue in one of the topics which is actually really close to my heart, which is how do we enable organizations to continuously transform? It's kind of like our mission at Lena X, because there's a lot of like talk about digital transformation and stuff out there, but I think the real trick is there's not one big project you have to go through, but it's more getting the capability, the muscles to actually continuously transform all the time, so that that's like what we see as a key mission for an enterprise. Architect. Would you agree to this or would you say like no, and we cannot transform all the time? Yeah, so we need to have a stay, stay the steady state from time to time. Yeah, we need to take some rest because we're otherwise we like we're like moving all the time. How do you think about how do we think about the term...

...like continuous transformation? I almost think the digital transformation is extremely overused. So continuous transformation is just almost like word player this or something my old boss is to talk about a lot. Right, is is it's a lifestyle change. As an example, I'd say personally, I subscribe to the Seafood Diet. You put any food in front of me and I'm going to hate it. So part of the things is I love to run daily, all right, and love playing soccer and ice hockey, but I get the point where I exercise daily just to subscribe to my seafood Diet. So that's your lifestyle. So part of the things that we need to look at this is, in order for us to embrace this continuous transformation, we need to get to transformation a lifestyle. What do we want to do right and how do we continuously change? If all of us aren't on the same page to be able to do it, it's not going to be successful. So if you look at two simple things, right, like the pandemic forced us to truly embrace a lot of these things as digital. But if it will look at door and the entire digital economy of how we get food and other things, those things used to exist before. They were around pre cod but they became essentially mass adoption during covid. So part of the things that we start thinking about it is is the let's say, exponential adoption happens under certain conditions. So that's where, as enterprise architects, we need to identify to go. What does that conditions? How does that enable the market window? So if you look at like I had the opportunity of watching cricket and the Indian Premier League this year, earlier this year, I noticed that quite a few of the sponsors for that were actually weren't in business in two thousand and eighteen. Their net new companies. So that's how radically things have changed in the last two years. They have new forms of business. So part of the things that we need to start thinking about is how can we adopt and what do we need to do different great, yeah, thank you for giving some context on that. I mean, I'm I'm always quite interested in your view. A bit a hat. So let's think about a few years forward. What are you thinking about? Some of the innovations or like maybe technology or process innovations where you see a lot of a lot of like potential in so that's what's always very interesting. Maybe relates to your business but can be also outside. So what of some of the big trends you're betting on? Biggest that we're looking at right is the trend that were but none is is the fact that would five generations and the workplace today and being everybody being a digital talent available. How do we ensure that we find the right talent for the right droll? It's not so much as like their recruiting piece, because if you look at any large enter price right. So there's a need for like a talent market place that here's the skill to we need, here's the capability, here's the potential, haven all of that aligned and having a person ready to be productive day one, so they're not going through like six weeks on boarding and train mean things like that, but also having a access to a continuous learning environment. Or would that look like in that entire support system and ecosystem around it. So that's one that we're seeing a huge demandant and from a subordinate just standpoint. That's one that we're betton pretty heavily on, is is making that...

...talent pull available and empowered, so you have the opportunity to go right, I would like to work for, as an example, laias and this at the role, this at the capability I'd love to do, and essentially enabling that person to have that opportunity to go to the city, ideal type of company I'd left to work for, these other things I'd like to do and having that fit and how do we have that enabled start to finish. So there's a view around skills, there's a few around capability on boarding and what we'd also have to do is is later and, like what I talked about before, their emotional elements, access to learning, continuous learning, and also ability for them to actually fail right and so, okay, how do I do fell fast within that environment and be able to bring that forward. So that's what we see as a complete talent market place and one of the things that we're focusing on. It was really great to hear from you much more on like the how you look. I get on the a function. What are some of the needs, especially. I mean we've discussed a lot on like. It's not so much about like infrastructure technology view, much more the business centric view, how to foster innovation with the help of business capability models. Is there anything what you can like recommend to to our listeners here, what to put in a put a focus on if they are starting with the topic of enterprise architecture or restarting it any very practical like? What are your top top three advices you would you would give them? I think the first thing is is that knowledge. Thats the IT blind spot. We used to saying no, right. I joke that it is the Ministry of no. So if we're to take away no, but we said yes. But See, part of the questions is can we switch from know you cannot do it to approach being let me understand what you're trying to do and then how can I help? So understanding the business impacts, right, but what the business objectives are. And then in order for us to create like an IT droad map, one of the things we've got to do is align it to what are the strategic imparatives, from CEO down? What are the business objectives? And then the road map should be. How are we enabling those outcomes? How are we enabling the strategic outcomes? So first lesson is is to switch from being part of the Ministry of know to be in an enabler. So as you start thinking about it, stop doing it road maps, start doing enablement road maps. So start calling out and your road map, how are you enabling the strategic outcomes? So it's no longer an IT road map. That's us. Here's the Business Road Map, here's where we're added to in order for the business to achieve certain objectives. What do we need from it to be able to deliver? And that's where it forces you to now start embracing the business capability map and you driving that conversation more about what is that capability to look like and what are the next steps right and how you look through it. And that's where you start overlaying some of the things, like not so much on the pace layering, but like the TBM council view, and you start folding some of these things in around to say here's the objectives will want to be able to achieve. Then the last piece of it out look at is is almost like you know what's the next thing we're going to go learn from an ear a standpoint, how do we embrace yours as products that are coming out and how do we create a incubation area where we can embrace newers, US technologies in a controlled manner? We're not saying take your...

...entire EARP and move it to the latest as offer and and you no longer have any RP, but it's saying, okay, how do we start bringing in some of these solutions so you're actually enabling the business and you're coming to them with saying hey, have you looked at this latest capability and being able to provide that value right. So that growth area will be the third lesson I would encourage people to start thinking about, as you saying, how can we add by you great, yeah, cutique. I think this this was perfect summary and advice for, I hope, for some of our listeners. So I'd like to say a big thank you to you for being my guests in the show today. So I again learned a lot about like what is, what it means to actually bring enterprise architecture to the next level, how to add value specific also in your business model. Some very specific examples which I think I and and, of course also listeners, always appreciate so thank you for being the guests on the show and, yeah, looking forward to stay in contact. Thank you, and Rak and. Thank you for the opportunity you've been listening to unleash. I T to ensure that you never miss an episode. Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about enterprise architecture and tools to help unleash your businesses digital capabilities, visit lean ix dotnet. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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