#ArchitectureQA, #TechQA | 6 min read

#ArchitectureQA: Jazz Badeshia Enterprise Architecture Practice Director @ Oracle

Francesca Greane
Written by Francesca Greane

The latest in our Tech Leaders Q&A Series, we spoke with Jazz Badeshia – Enterprise Architecture Practice Director at Oracle.

Jazz drew focus to how enterprise architects fit into a world where technology is constantly evolving, and how enterprise architecture and innovative technologies can be harnessed in order to make a positive difference to organisations and to society.


Third Republic (TR): Could you start by giving us an overview of your background? 

Jazz Badeshia (JB): I am an electronic engineer and MBA graduate, and during my career have focused on business transformation journeys across a range of industries such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics, retail, sports, and many more. So, I’ve been working in the IT industry for around 20 years, implementing ERP solutions for large multi-nationals across a pan-European scale.

One of the things I am serious about is people welfare and developing talent that has a laser focus on improving the dynamics of society. In line with this, I’m about to embark on driving the BAME agenda for Oracle, where I’m setting up and co-chairing a group called the ‘Cultural Harmony Network’ that will drive inclusion and diversity throughout the business.


TR: What is the biggest change you have seen in the industry?

JB: I think that, today, the industry is moving too fast for technology to provide the necessary value that organisations need; the pace of change is phenomenal, and technology simply can’t keep up.

With the advent of the digital economy being what it is, the industry is looking at artificial intelligence and machine learning as systems that can help to improve their bottom line. For example, at Oracle, we are building self-learning algorithms into our solutions that drive better results on checking transactions and reducing the risk of things going wrong, to predictive analytics and predictive maintenance.

The other dynamic is that there is now a cross-pollination of businesses who are branching out; Amazon is a clear example because they started off as an on-line retailer and are now branching out into cloud computing (IT infrastructure). Another example is Airbnb who are impacting the Hotelier industry massively.


TR: How do you think businesses can adapt in these changing times?

JB: In a previous paper on orchestrating a competitive supply chains, I talked about the four stages of maturity, with organisations moving from decentralised, to unified, to networked and then to orchestrated. Companies tend to want to jump straight to orchestrated, which means a revolutionary change in their business model and a complete transformation of their organisational culture.

However, what leaders struggle to understand, is the impact that this will have on their people let alone their ability to provide integrated services to their customer base. Organisations need to understand that in order to be truly orchestrating they need to address tough questions like managing their omnichannel presence, adapting to emerging technologies, and managing an autonomous workforce.


TR: Why do you think enterprise architecture is critical to the success of a business?

JB: Enterprise architecture is fundamentally about understanding business dynamics and the macro and micro disruptions happening in an industry. As enterprise architects we have to live and breathe the challenges a business might face, and our strategic thinking begins to remodel the organisation in order to harness the benefits from its value chain.

We deal in business problems and formulate solutions to make an organisation more competitive; we understand the industry, focus on the context and drive a course of action to deliver against the outcomes. In our line of business, we need to create capabilities based on the business motivation and demand being shaped by the industry.


TR: How do you define the role of the enterprise architect?

JB: I define the enterprise architect process into three distinct steps. Outcomes are typically characterised by the changes in the contextual nature of the industry, then we focus on the strategy to drive a course of action, and finally we take a logical approach to deliver capabilities that address the outcomes required in a time-phased manner.


TR: What does digital transformation mean to you? What challenges and opportunities do you think it presents? 

JB: I mentioned this before, but digital transformation is effectively about removing boundaries in the business landscape; what was once B2B is now B2C, and we are now even moving into the realm of C2C with the use of technologies like Blockchain or IoT that enable us to reduce boundaries and connect people faster. The whole premise is doing things faster with greater accuracy, reducing risk, presenting and managing data to drive better analytics and self-learning.


TR: How do you see enterprise architecture fitting into the era of digitalisation and digital transformation? 

JB: Digital transformation is also coupled with the migration of organisations to the cloud, so it is down to the enterprise architects to ensure their customers fully understand the merits and value they will get from their entire journey. Enterprise architects fundamentally help organisations to determine the right business case to drive better investment direction, and to also identify the right roadmap to deliver significant cultural change as well as increased stakeholder value.

Our job is definitely becoming more and more complex in this era of digitalisation, because of the amount of technologies being developed all the time; we have to now understand how to harness and piece together two or three pieces of technologies or cloud providers for instance.


TR: You mentioned the constant evolution of technology; do you think that technology is the be all and end all of innovation in enterprise architecture?

JB: Technology isn’t really about innovation if it doesn’t solve a business problem, or if it can’t be understood by the people deploying the technology, or the recipient of it. Innovation is the sum of technology and talent – with talent being the most important ingredient, because good talent knows how to best use and interpret technology in order to deliver innovative change.

The challenge facing the organisations of tomorrow is hiring the right people and having the right mix of individuals; having a resource pool of individuals with the same mind set will eventually hinder your ability to innovate and create solutions that really deliver against new world problems, and for this reason businesses need to focus on bringing in a diverse mix of minds.


TR: What emerging enterprise architecture trends are you most excited about and why?

JB: The two biggest elements are risk and security, and these are exciting and daunting in equal measure at the moment. If you get it wrong it can have massive ramifications on your public image, but if you get it right then you build a brand that can be trusted by any organisations.

I think with risk and security we have to be mindful of the impact that you are having on your society, as well as be cognizant of how individuals will come into contact with an organisations IT system and how they experience that.

That’s what excites me; how can I make a positive difference to society through the work I do, by integrating new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence in order to create new business paradigms that are secure and have zero risk. I really do believe in reducing risk and building trust in solutions that really resonate with my customers.


TR: What advice would you give yourself at the start of your journey?

JB: I would characterise this into three points: 

  • Be open minded; embrace all cultures of life and ensure you put yourself into uncomfortable situations to stretch yourself
  • Challenge everything; don’t take solutions at face value, always questions if the solution is addressing the business problem or just putting a plaster over an issue that will later be ten times worse
  • Collaborate; there’s an enterprise architect measure called ‘Networking Performance’ which helps you develop your skills by expanding your network. You will never now all the answers, so your network is extremely important in helping you to understand problems and work out solutions.

TR: In ‘Architecting Modern Enterprise’ you mention the critical role of senior leaders in enterprise architecture. How would you recommend architects getting buy-in from these leaders? 

JB: You have to resonate on real world business problems, articulate your solution in a way that can be easily understood, and that can be seen to have a material impact on business performance.


TR: You define yourself as an ‘IT Anthropologist’; can you explain what this means?

JB: As you know, anthropology is about studying human beings in their society and understanding their customs or beliefs; as a raw consultant that’s what I’m doing when I study individuals in an organisation because I’m looking to understand things like their stories, symbols, power struggles, organisational structure, control systems and routines.

Through understanding this cultural web, I look at IT as an enabler to deliver better balance to people’s lives through innovation. It’s about how I can harness technology in a better way to drive a positive impact on society and enable them to spend more time on the important activities. My overriding aim is to create happiness through the medium of IT anthropology.