Saturday, February 07, 2015

A Critical Realist Perspective of Enterprise Architecture Evolution: Conditioning and Outcomes

This paper investigates how Enterprise Architecture (EA) evolves due to emerging trends. It specifically explores how EA integrates the Service-oriented Architecture (SOA). Archer’s Morphogenetic theory is used as an analytical approach to distinguish the architectural conditions under which SOA is introduced, to study the relationships between these conditions and SOA introduction, and to reflect on EA evolution (elaborations) that then take place.  

The paper focuses on reasons for why EA evolution could take place, or not and what architectural changes could happen due to SOA integration. The research builds on sound theoretical foundations to discuss EA evolution in a field that often lacks a solid theoretical groundwork. Specifically, it proposes that critical realism, using the morphogenetic theory, can provide a useful theoretical foundation to study enterprise architecture (EA) evolution. The initial results of a literature review (a-priori model) were extended using explorative interviews. 

The findings of this study are threefold. First, there are five different levels of EA-SOA integration outcomes. Second, a mature EA, flexible and well-defined EA framework and comprehensive objectives of EA improve the integration outcomes. Third, the analytical separation using Archer’s theory is helpful in order to understand how these different integration outcomes are generated.

See here for more information.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Small and Medium Enterprises using Software as a Service: Exploring the different roles of intermediaries

Software as a Service (SaaS) can provide significant benefits to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) due to advantages like ease of access, 7*24 availability, and utility pricing. However, underlying the SaaS delivery model is often the assumption that SMEs will directly interact with the SaaS vendor and use a self-service approach. In practice, we see the rise of SaaS intermediaries who can support SMEs with sourcing and leveraging SaaS. 

This paper reports on the roles of intermediaries and how they support SMEs with using SaaS. We conducted an empirical study of two SaaS intermediaries and analysed their business models, in particular their value propositions. We identified orientation (technology or customer) and alignment (operational or strategic) as themes for understanding their roles. 

The contributions of this paper include: (1) the identification and description of SaaS intermediaries for SMEs based on an empirical study and (2) understanding the different roles of SaaS intermediaries, in particular a more basic role based on technology orientation and operational alignment and a more value adding role based on customer orientation and strategic alignment. We propose that SaaS intermediaries can address SaaS adoption and implementation challenges of SMEs by playing a basic role and can also aim to support SMEs in creating business value with SaaS based solutions by playing an added value role.

See here for more information.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Conceptualising Business Models: Definitions, Frameworks and Classifications

The business model concept is gaining traction in different disciplines but is still criticized for being fuzzy and vague and lacking consensus on its definition and compositional elements. In this paper we set out to advance our understanding of the business model concept by addressing three areas of foundational research: business model definitions, business model elements, and business model archetypes. 

We define a business model as a representation of the value logic of an organization in terms of how it creates and captures customer value. This abstract and generic definition is made more specific and operational by the compositional elements that need to address the customer, value proposition, organizational architecture (firm and network level) and economics dimensions. Business model archetypes complement the definition and elements by providing a more concrete and empirical understanding of the business model concept. 

The main contributions of this paper are (1) explicitly including the customer value concept in the business model definition and focusing on value creation, (2) presenting four core dimensions that business model elements need to cover, (3) arguing for flexibility by adapting and extending business model elements to cater for different purposes and contexts (e.g. technology, innovation, strategy) (4) stressing a more systematic approach to business model archetypes by using business model elements for their description, and (5) suggesting to use business model archetype research for the empirical exploration and testing of business model elements and their relationships.

See here for more information.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Exploring Shared Services from an IS Perspective: A Literature Review and Research Agenda

Shared services have gained significance as an organizational arrangement, in particular for support functions, to reduce costs, increase quality, and create new capabilities. The information systems (IS) function is amenable to sharing arrangements and information systems can enable sharing in other functional areas. However, despite being a promising area for IS research, literature on shared services in the IS discipline is scarce and scattered. There is still little consensus on what shared services is. Moreover, a thorough understanding of why shared services are adopted, who are involved, and how things are shared is lacking. 

In this article, we set out to progress IS research on shared services by establishing a common ground for future research and proposing a research agenda to shape the field based on an analysis of the IS literature. We present a holistic and inclusive definition, discuss the primacy of economic-strategic objectives so far, and introduce conceptual frameworks for stakeholders and the notion of sharing. We also provide an overview of the theories and research methods applied. We propose a research agenda that addresses fundamental issues related to objectives, stakeholders, and the notion of sharing to lay the foundation for taking IS research on shared services forward.

See here for more information.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One-Stop Government Portals: Transformation or Navigation

E-government is seen as a promising approach for governments to improve their service towards citizens and become more cost-efficient in service delivery. This is often combined with one-stop government, which is a citizen-oriented approach stressing integrated provision of services from multiple departments via a single access point, the one-stop government portal. While the portal concept is gaining prominence in practice, there is little known about its status in academic literature. This hinders academics in building an accumulated body of knowledge around the concept and makes it hard for practitioners to access relevant academic insights on the topic. The objective of this study is to identify and understand the key themes of the one-stop government portal concept in academic, e-government research. A holistic analysis is provided by addressing different viewpoints: social-political, legal, organizational, user, security, service, data and information, and technical. As an overall finding, the authors conclude that there are two different approaches: a more pragmatic approach focuses on quick wins in particular related to usability and navigation and a more ambitious, transformational approach having far reaching social-political, legal, and organizational implications.

See here for more information.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Enterprise social networks : A business model perspective

Enterprise Social Networks continue to be adopted by organisations looking to increase collaboration between employees, customers and industry partners. Offering a varied range of features and functionality, this technology can be distinguished by the underlying business models that providers of this software deploy. This study identifies and describes the different business models through an analysis of leading Enterprise Social Networks: Yammer, Chatter, SharePoint, Connections, Jive, Facebook and Twitter. 

A key contribution of this research is the identification of consumer and corporate models as extreme approaches. These findings align well with research on the adoption of Enterprise Social Networks that has discussed bottom-up and top-down approaches. Of specific interest are hybrid models that wrap a corporate model within a consumer model and may, therefore, provide synergies on both models. From a broader perspective, this can be seen as the merging of the corporate and consumer markets for IT products and services.

See here for more information.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Business Model Canvas or Business Model thinking?

The Business Model Canvas presents us with a great tool for the design and innovation of business models. As with every specific approach or tool, the Canvas can also bias or blind us. This can be caused by the features of the tool itself as well as from the way in which the tool is (wrongly) used.

As with every solution for solving a problem, the features of the Business Model Canvas are determined by the framing and scoping of the problem. This means that compared to other business model frameworks and tools, the Business Model Canvas has certain strengths and weaknesses (see also my discussion on different frameworks here). For example, some of specific areas where the Business Model Canvas could fall short in are related to business networks, service logic and business dynamics.

Another potential hazard with using the Business Model Canvas is that its use gets reduced to just filling out the individual building blocks. This will not provide a holistic perspective on value creation as it omits the relationships between the building blocks, e.g. Dell could offer direct sales because they targeted corporate customers going for a repeat purchase. Moreover, every business model has an underlying rational or story.  This is easily missed when one limits oneself to the individual building blocks. The idea behind Southwest Airlines' business model can be described as making flying an alternative for taking a bus or car.

So while the Business Model Canvas can be very useful for supporting the design and innovation of business models, we should not fall into the trap that we therefore assume that we do not need to also think more broadly about the logic for creating and capturing customer value.