I, along with a dream team representing Axway, had the privilege of attending the Gartner Enterprise Architecture (EA) conference this past week in Washington DC. The theme of the conference was Linking EA to Business Strategy and Technology Innovation, and the conference stayed on message. The attendance was excellent with over 1,200 attending. The conference started out with two provocative sessions (1) the keynote: Mastering the Art of the Political Discussion for EA and then (2) a guest mastermind keynote: Larger Lessons of Leadership with Bob Woodward an American Investigative Journalist. He has been working for the Washington Post since 1971 and is a non-fiction author with 12 #1 national bestsellers.
“What?” you may ask. “The conference did not open with gripping statistics on AI, Blockchain, Digital Twins, VR and IOT?” No, it opened with politics, specifically a session on mastering the art of the political discussion. And, then a journalist spoke who has interviewed and written on more presidents than I can name and is actively writing a book on President Trump. All the political talk threw me at first. I was on the edge of my seat. Very interesting, but was I in the right conference? Yes, I was. Gartner was equipping enterprise architects to be IN the conversation with the business to lead with them in delivering business value through technology. Brilliant. We have discussed that businesses don’t compete on product and price anymore but on experience, and experiences are delivered through technology (this is at the very heart of being “digital,” right?). So, of course, Enterprise Architects need to sharpen their skills to work side-by-side with the business and to lead business conversations.
The keynote session on mastering the art of political conversation equips the EA to enter as a conversational ninja with the ability to use techniques and combinations of words to best engage in dialogue and to de-politicalize conversations to be sure other individuals are in a state of mind to receive data and to navigate conflict. The session with Bob Woodward regarding lessons on leadership simply made the point that it is a must to “show up” and “to listen.” As an investigative journalist, Mr. Woodward does his interviews in person and comes to them well-prepared and well-read. He makes the point that the media today generally does not show up and lives off an email and the internet (sounds like a lot of our work). Just the mentioning of the names of those he has met with and mentioning President Trump could divide any audience with reactions that span the rainbow. But, he captured us and said, “To lead, you must listen (and really listen–not listen while using most of your brain to figure out what to say next), and you must show up.” He made the statement that it seems critical thinking and political discourse have become extinct–I could not agree more. It’s much easier to judge and throw 140 character knives than to converse, to listen, to gather information, to validate, to wait and pause and then communicate. Wow!
OK, so why is this politics part relevant for Axway, for our customers and for you reading this? Very simply, this makes the point that what we do with technology, what our customers do and what we enable as technology is strategic to our customer’s business. For EAs leading the use of our technology, their focus must be on the business value of technology and on delivering real business value with the technology.
And, yes, of course, there were sessions on all the top and emerging technology trends–many relevant to Axway–I’ll write more on those separately. In Gartner’s Sauls Brand’s closing keynote “Delivering World-Class EA in the Digital Age,” he brought all this home in directing the audience to establish EA as an internal management consultancy to the organization, as well as mastering emerging and strategic trends to help think about business transformation and to help apply new technologies to create new business designs and new business models.
Great event Gartner! And, oh, by the way, we had fantastic conversations and booth traffic to boot!