Deepthi Murthy is focused on Business transformation through Business Architecture work and Program Management. She has extensive and diverse work experience in Business, gained by working with cross functional teams (Boutique and Fortune 100 organizations) within USA, Canada, India and UK . She has not only been a key member in planning and supporting enterprise wide high impact digital transformation programs, but has also successfully lead multiple teams in taking the product to market. Deepthi believes that learning is an ongoing journey, and uses her ability to connect the dots to look at possibilities and to create. Deepthi is currently employed with First American Title where she is setting up and leading the Business Architecture practice for the company's National Commercial Services Division.
What is Business Architecture, what value does it provide organizations?
Business architecture can be defined as: a holistic, multidimensional business views of: capabilities, end-to-end value delivery, information, and organizational structure; and the relationships among these business views and strategies, products, policies, initiatives, and stakeholders.
Quoting The Business Architecture Body of Knowledge (BIZBOK) here, This abstract representation that Business Architecture provides of an enterprise and the business ecosystem, helps organizations with a framework for translating strategy into actionable initiatives. It also enhances the enterprise’s capacity to enact transformational change, navigate complexity, reduce risk, make more informed decisions, align diverse stakeholders to a shared vision of the future, and leverage technology more effectively.
What role does Business Architecture play in Digital Transformations within an enterprise?
The word 'Digital Transformation' has become fairly ubiquitous today due to the shift in mindset and advancements in technology. If anything the pandemic probably just speeded up some of the work that organizations were already planning. Business Architecture can be used to ensure that digital transformation projects are successful by providing a big picture of the upcoming change and by helping with strategy formulation. Creating this framework allows organizations to understand what they are up against, and chart out a mindful course of action. For example: if an organization wants to build a brand new CRM software or replace their current CRM, then Business Architecture can provide relevant views by identifying the key Business Capabilities and value streams that interact with customers. It can also help identify or heat map capabilities to provide views to show which capabilities are Core to the business and which ones are strategic or supporting. It can also be used to identify opportunities for enhancement, or reducing complexity, and essentially support assessment of potential solutions.
Usually within an organization, digital programs automatically engage Technology teams. How does one approach developing solutions for large transformation programs?
In the past few years there has been a major shift in the way IT projects are developed and managed. Many organizations now subscribe to and follow a Product Mindset rather than a Project Mindset. This means they have invested in Product Management that will envision and build a customer centric solutions. Transformation programs are never easy, and they usually end up requiring large investments of time, effort and money. A Product Mindset combined with an Agile development framework is usually a successful combination and a good transformational strategy, because organizations can deliver value to customers quickly in small increments and the solutions can evolve.
How do you as a Business Architect work with technology teams within this product world? Don’t they have their own process for development?
Juxtaposing Business Architecture with technology products / solutions is not always intuitive. IT product teams (i.e teams responsible for Information technology product or solutions roadmap and development) usually work within a certain framework and the language or methodology used are quite different than that of Business Architecture.
Product Managers are tasked with creating product roadmaps which will capture their product vision and provide customer value. They have to continuously review , prioritize and balance various risks, learn from user feedback and determine what the MVP (Minimal Viable Product) should look like. It's not an easy task. Business Architecture can support product development and digital transformation through a couple of ways.
How do you engage top executives in key decisions?
Transformation projects absolutely need an educated leadership team who understand the challenges of such a program, and who also champion change. Business Architects can work with leadership teams to get their feedback and insights on the current landscape and challenges if any, understand the target state of business capabilities and work with product teams to incorporate these into the solution. Typically organizations have a steering committee or a group of leaders who work closely with the Development teams to sign off on product strategy and roadmap. These leaders may sit within IT or Business or both. Business Architects also identify impacted business entities and customers and ensure that their feedback is considered when the new solution is designed.
Your biggest challenge so far
In my experience, one of the biggest challenges was to find that common language through which we could partner with the different teams. For e.g. The word 'capability' can be understood or interpreted differently depending on which team is using it:
A Product Manager may understand the word capability as a "product capability"which is defined as a product attribute that customers can interact with to perform a specified task. For a Business Architect the word 'capability' signifies the "Business Capability", which is “a particular ability or capacity that a business may possess or exchange to achieve a specific purpose or outcome. (BizBok). They provide business-centric views on WHAT a business does and not HOW they do it.
So the question is -how do we bridge this distance from Business Capability to Product Capability? Understanding Business Architecture views is usually extremely beneficial to the leadership within the enterprise as it helps them make informed decisions on Transformation Projects. However it's not always easy for Product or Engineering teams to just translate Business Capabilities and use them. These views therefore need to be customized for partners by identifying the impacted value streams, business activities performed therein, identifying the business capabilities and cross mapping it to product (Technology) and user persona (people). This helps with development of a comprehensive product backlog and initiating discussions for identifying scope for change.
Business Architects require many skills and it was very beneficial in my experience to know and speak the product management lingo and understand what they would need to create a product strategy within an agile environment and help them.
What are your top takeaways when driving a digital transformation initiative with a business architecture approach
Engaging Business Architecture in digital transformation is extremely beneficial! Transformation Initiatives have to be smart about investing and directing its limited resources towards the right efforts. Business architects can positively influence and speed up product development, reduce risk of investing in wrong capabilities and successfully manage resources by reducing the need for course corrections.
Large programs benefit by having a comprehensive view of the business eco-system for planning or strategy formulation, product development, all the way through to execution and working with Change Management as required.
Tell us about your career journey/ transition to where you started and where you are now
Becoming a Business Architect was not a straight path for me. I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to live and work in 4 countries. So my experience was gained by working with some really talented teams and organizations (Fortune 100 and Boutique firms) in varied industries from Banking and Financial sector, Education, IT, ITES etc. I also have a Business Management education and strong experience of working closely with Business and IT in many capacities like : Consultant, Facilitator, Project and Program Manager, and Business Analyst.
Some skills and knowledge that I constantly use as a Business Architect today are : my experience in Business Analysis (Current state analysis and modeling, gap analysis, requirements elicitation etc.,) , product management knowledge gained in Digital and Omni channels, my knowledge of business concepts, functions and strategy, experience in facilitation, knowledge of partnering with IT teams for execution within an Agile framework, collaboration skills with various stakeholders etc.
My strength I feel is my ability to 'connect the dots', figure out the art of the possible, and help set up business teams for success. So perhaps it was for the best, that I didn’t have a direct path to Business Architecture, because this diverse background has truly helped me contribute at a high level in my current role.
What are some of the practical resources for women who are looking to start or advance their career in Business Architecture?
The Business Architecture Guild is doing some wonderful work in providing business architecture practitioners and other interested parties opportunities to increase their business architecture knowledge and gain certification. TOGAF also offers a Business Architecture Certification . There are also many seminars and conferences across the world on Business Architecture which provide opportunities to learn from leaders in the field, understand best practices, network and advance this discipline. In addition to these perhaps building knowledge about Business and technology concepts, learning to capture and articulate business models, and collaborating with other business teams would be very helpful indeed. I am sure there are other resources out there and I am always open to learning more.
I have observed an uptrend in the recruitment of Business Architects today which is a clear indicator of the immense value Business Architecture brings to an organization. I would truly encourage interested fellow women to consider this field and contribute to it.