25 attendees at The Open Group Amsterdam Summit participated in a workshop about Information Management on May 13th 2014. A short version of GamingWorks’ BookStore® business simulation was played, in which the participants were divided up into three groups: Business, Information Management and IT. The game simulates a bookstore that is tasked with improving its revenue and profit by introducing new products and services than depend heavily on information and related technology. Business, Information Management and IT have to collaborate effectively and efficiently to translate business demands into working functionality.
After playing the first iteration of the game, people remarked on the similarities with real life, for instance “I only heard at the last minute that I had to develop the application” and “The business wants a cloud but doesn’t know why”. Somebody made a comment that he wished that his company had such effective feedback loops as in the game. The ‘CEO’ made a wistful remark about this fictitious (and closely collaborating) enterprise: “I had the company that I’d like to work for”.
As usual when playing games, the first iterations are interspersed with minor issues such as the Information Manager interrupting discussion with “Why am I not part of this meeting?” and somebody in a project planning meeting saying “Where’s the project manager?”.
The majority of the participants being architects, several comments were made about the relevance of architecture: “Don’t think solutions, think architecture”, “Architecture happens, one way or another – if it’s not top down it’ll be bottom up”, and “Architecture is about feasibility and change”. Alignment of Architecture and IM was also mentioned including the question how to organize architecture across Business, IM and IT and the need for a reference model. Somebody stated that Architecture should be part of the CIO Office: “You need someone (EA) with a vision of the whole”. An aside about the CIO Office: “What will the CIO Office look like when everything is in the cloud?”
One of the interesting topics that was discussed in length was how Demand and Supply is organised across the whole IT value chain (Business, Information Management and IT). Is Information Management part of the business and therefore Demand? Or is Information Management the front end of the IT function and therefore Supply? Somebody commented that it doesn’t make that much difference – they’re just part of the whole process. Another valuable comment was that Demand/Supply is not just a ‘line’ but encompasses activities such as planning. Maturity was also referenced, in particular its influence on the positioning of Information Management and IT: “When you’re immature you’re just an order-taker”. Another valuable point was how positioning has changed – in the beginning IT was about ‘support’ but we’re moving through ‘aligned’ and ‘integrated’ towards ‘co-creation’.
The final take-away was the finding that in real life the Business and IT are often so isolated from each other that major improvements can be made just by getting the two parties to talk to each other more often. This is why organizations often use BookStore® game ‘in house’ to improve the collaboration between various departments.
The BookStore® workshop was facilitated by Christian Nissen and Mark Smalley.