>The Hype Cycle and Enterprise Architecture


“A Hype Cycle (term coined by Gartner) is a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of specific technologies.

Hype cycles characterize the over-enthusiasm or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies. Hype cycles also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits, and become widely accepted.

The hype cycle comprises 5 steps:

  1. Technology Trigger” breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations” frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations.
  3. Trough of Disillusionment” Technologies fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable.
  4. Slope of Enlightenment” some businesses continue to experiment and understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.
  5. Plateau of Productivity” the benefits become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations.

Hype cycles aim to separate the hype from the reality, and enable executives to decide whether or not a particular technology is ready for adoption.” (adapted from Wikipedia)

The Hype Cycle is a tool that can be used by EA to help evaluate new technologies and whether it’s the “right” time to jump in and invest.

The hype cycle teaches us not to be blind, bleeding edge technology adopters, but rather to allow ample time for the technologies and their applications to mature. Often a swift follower can implement a relatively new technology cheaper, faster, and better than those on the bleeding edge: the kinks have been worked out, the patches applied, and the applicability fleshed out. More important, those technologies that were more hype than substance have been eliminated from the mix.

While early adoption can be a winning strategy (and extremely lucrative) for those gifted to recognize and be able to apply real innovations early on, in most cases, the swift follower is the big winner and the bleeding edge adopter the loser.

>Murphy’s Law and Enterprise Architecture

>Murphy’s law is an adage in Western culture that broadly states that things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance…It is most often cited as “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” (or, alternately, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way”)…The saying is sometimes referred to as Sod’s law or Finagle’s law which can also be rendered as “Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment”. (adapted from Wikipedia)

Well Murphy’s Law is pretty pessimistic and ominous, but I guess for those of us who are old enough to have lived through some of life’s up’s and down’s (and Murphy’s Law would probably say they’re mostly downs), then the adage is not only meaningful, but also a cautionary tale for how we conduct ourselves.

No, It’s not about being paranoid or schizoid or any of those things.

But probably more a big “WATCH OUT!” or “KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!” sign plastered along the bumpy, curvy road of life.

One of my old pals has a spin of Murphy’s Law (although I don’t think he see it quite that way) that goes like this: “Man plans and G-d laughs.”

As a manager, I see Murphy’s Law as part of good program and project management. It’s about planning, planning, and more planning (sustained and determined), with plenty of risk management built in as you execute and deliver to the customer on behalf of the enterprise.

But even with planning and risk management, you can never cover every eventuality. What you can do is try to prevent or avoid certain risks, mitigate others, and accept the ones you can’t avoid or mitigate. Pretty much, simple as that.

User-centric EA is a process for the enterprise to plan and manage risk—all those inherent in Murphy’s Law. EA does this by formulating, documenting and communicating where the organization is at, where it is headed, and how it is going to try and get there. Furher, it vets these plans with leaderhip and subject matter experts, builds consensus, and drives positive, incremental change. EA helps the organization adapt to changes internally and externally. EA is a bulwark against the law of “anything that can go wrong, will.”

>My Dear Technology and Enterprise Architecture

>Oh how dear is my technology?

The Wall Street Journal, 1-2 September 2007, wrote about a dying woman and her last words to her daughters:

“In the past four years, I have replayed that moment again and again. The beeping of machines. The manic bustle of nurses. Doctors spouting terms like ‘lung failure.’ And, ultimately, my mom toiling to draw a breath…so that she could ask that my sister, Lizzie, and I safeguard her eBay reputation.” !!!!!

There’s more…

“Mom radiated fear throughout her illness…once, when my sister brought to my mom an old photo album, my mom told her she didn’t want to look through it. And then Mom slid her Mac unto her lap and logged on to eBay.”

The daughter’s conclusion…

“She was dying. But with her iMac and wireless internet connection, she found life.”

I am sure that this article is as shocking to many of you as it was to me. Not that we can or should judge anyone. Hopefully, we will never be in this lady’s shoes. But it does seem bizarre that even when the mother is deathly sick, she is neither interested in her faith, her family, her memories, or her good deeds—the things that are usually the treasures of most of us—but rather is apparently all consumed by her computer, her wireless connection, and her website.

As a professional in EA, I have frequently encountered people at work at their love affair with their pet technologies. They saw it in a trade mag; got this “unbelievable” brief or slick brochure from ABC company; viewed this demo at a trade show; and now they “gotta gotta have it!”

In a sense, adults are just big children. They have to have their toys. They won’t stop whining and bellowing until they get it. And once they get it, they play with it for a short time, and then it goes into the corner to collect dust.

This is exactly what User-centric EA and IT governance is supposed to protect the enterprise against. EA and capital planning & investment control are designed to help filter out the technology winners from the losers, and those that align with the needs and strategies of the organization from those that are merely toys. There are a lot of whiners and bellowing customers out there, buying them their toys is not user-centric, but just foolish and a waste of valuable corporate investment dollars.



User-centric EA seeks to align the various life cycle IT system processes to help users understand, navigate, and complete these as simply and smoothly as possible.

Below is an alignment of the processes for System Development Life Cycle (SDLC), Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC), Enterprise Architecture (EA), and the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK).





Conceptual Planning


Business Alignment


Planning & Requirements


Technical Alignment




Development & Testing


Operations & Maintenance


Architecture Assessment



The graphic demonstrates that the various IT system processes align quite nicely, and that user seeking to stand up a new system or make major changes to existing systems can follow the basic 7 steps of the SDLC and complete the requirements of CPIC, EA, and PMBOK along the way (the touch points are all identified).

The way to read this graphic is as follows:

For example, in the first phase of the SDLC, the conceptual planning stage, the user does the following: 1) defines their need (SDLC process) 2) develop their business justification and seek to obtain approval and funding from the IT Investment Review Board (CPIC process) 3) develops their business alignment and seeks approval from the Enterprise Architecture Board (EA process), and 4) define their project and seek authorization to proceed (PMBOK process).

For CPIC, users identify the following:

  • Select—How does the investment meet business decision criteria?
  • Control—Is the investment being managed with the planned cost, schedule, and performance criteria?
  • Evaluate—Did the investment meet the promised performance goals?

For EA, users demonstrate the following:

  • Business Alignment—Does the investment support the agency mission?
  • Technical Alignment—Does the investment interoperate within the technology infrastructure and meet technical standards?
  • Architecture Assessment—Is there a need to update the architecture?

For PMBOK, users complete various project management processes:

  • Initiating—Define and authorize the project.
  • Planning—Define objectives and plan course of action.
  • Executing—Integrates resources to carry out project management plan.
  • Closing—Accept product or service.

Note: The EA/CPIC alignment is adapted from Architecture Alignment and Assessment Guide, Chief Information Officers Council, August 2001. The PMBOK definitions are adopted from the Project Management Book of Knowledge, Third Edition.

User-centric EA promotes the alignment of the various IT system processes to help users to easily understand the touch points in the various life cycle steps to getting their system up and running. Moreover, the alignment enables the CIO to develop processes and job aids to assist and ‘speed’ users through the process. Thus, the processes are transformed from inhibitors to facilitators of systems progress for the enterprise.