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A new Scenarios module in Ardoq's cloud-based, data-driven enterprise architecture tool enables customers to simulate future states so they can analyze the impact of potential changes on their business goals.
Ardoq's software product can automate the collection of data in a customer's environment and generate visualizations to help users understand the technology, applications and business processes they have and how they're connected. The SaaS tool also lets stakeholders collaborate in real time through customizable dashboards to model future states and assess the consequences.
"A lot of architects do this through modeling, drawings and things like that -- but that usually speaks right past anybody in the C-suite," said Ian Stendera, vice president of customer success at Ardoq. "We want to bring data to the table in the same way a BI tool would do, so that you can design a new future of how your business model should work and then simulate using a graph analysis to understand the impact on your cost, your revenue, your risk portfolio, or whatever you might care to measure."
Stendera said modeling future scenarios is an age-old problem in enterprise architecture, but Ardoq's data-driven approach would set it apart from most competitors that are "drawing-driven" -- where "the model is a representation of your data, not the other way around."
The Scenarios module's technology approach is similar to collaborative code development and comparable to GitHub's branching mechanism, according to Stendera. He said the Ardoq tool enables customers to keep branches up to date as their internal systems or projects change, so they don't have to maintain multiple copies of their data.
"The ability to do some form of scenario planning is very important to doing enterprise architecture correctly," said James McGovern, an independent consultant who focuses on enterprise architecture. "Every business has multiple scenarios that they should be trying to model out. Some executives do the wet finger in the air kind of modeling, if you will, reading the tea leaves. If that works, that's fine. But most organizations trying to create a discipline need to have tools to model this stuff out."
McGovern said a scenario plan should take into account considerations such as what happens when the market is up or down and could help enterprises respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling them to use data to make better decisions.
Retail use case
Extenda Retail began using the Ardoq tool about a year after a major 2018 merger that combined Visma Retail and Extenda, two leading retail technology providers based in Scandinavia. Ardoq helps the retail software company take stock of its product portfolio, technology stacks, the developers who worked on them, and the customers that use them to determine the best teams to create new products, said David Beresford, chief knowledge officer in product development at Extenda Retail.
"We've moved teams into business domain verticals. We have a team responsible for the customer experience. We've got another for customer engagement and so on," Beresford said. "People are now geared more toward building products for the customer, and Ardoq was an essential part of that."
Beresford expects Scenarios to be useful in the future to show the impact of moving people into different areas and the potential effects on product roadmaps, as the company works to prioritize its development projects. He said he expects to adopt Scenarios after the company has inputted enough information into Ardoq to facilitate the data analysis.
"Once you reach the level of content within Ardoq that gives you an understanding of your business, Scenarios will let you play out your strategic hypotheses and see what the chances of success are in that future state without actually going there," Beresford said. "For anyone who's ready to take it, it could be a game changer."
John Ole Norlemann, an enterprise governance architect at Knowit Impact, a consultancy based in Oslo, Norway, said he uses Scenarios to distinguish a client's "as is" architecture to "sandbox" alternatives that would consolidate systems or improve processes. He said Ardoq's current Scenarios release is a step in the right direction, and he looks forward to a future version that will enable him to change the data model in the scenario as well. He said, with the current release, he has to stop the scenario, go back to the main repository, add a new field to the data model, and create the scenario again.
"Don't take this as a major problem, because the functionality that is launched now is extremely helpful," Norlemann said. "It's more like the next normal step to take, and that will be even more value for me."
Scenarios represents Ardoq's initial step into collaborative design of future states, according to Stendera. He said Ardoq plans to focus on getting data into decisions at greater scale to help architects drive meaningful change in their businesses.
David BeresfordChief knowledge officer in product development, Extenda Retail
The Ardoq tool runs on Amazon Web Services and backs up to Microsoft Azure Cloud. Customers get their data into the cloud automatically through REST APIs and out-of-box integrations with various tools or manually by importing data from Excel or surveying stakeholders. Ardoq also has an on-premises option that the Federal Communications Commission uses in the U.S.
Ardoq released its first product in 2014 and has about 165 customers in industry verticals such as telecom, media, healthcare and higher education, according to Stendera. He said the customer base ranges from small banks to regulated Fortune 500 companies, but the sweet spot is midmarket enterprises with 500 to 10,000 employees.
Pricing for the new Scenarios module varies per market and support plan. Ardoq offers growth, premium, premium plus and enterprise plans with unlimited workspaces and data. Add-on capabilities include dynamic presentations, analytics and reporting, custom dashboards, surveys, and automation and API access. Stendera said a typical midlevel Ardoq customer pays about $50,000 per year.