Part 2 of 3: Meet a Digital Product Master

This is part 2 of 3 in the series: Building Digital Product Masters to Prevail in the Age of Accelerations

Part 2 of 3: Meet a Digital Product Master

Business Enterprise Architecture Right-Sized for your Protection

The complexity and speed of change of IT and related services now exceeds the ability to grasp and understand using tried-and-true models.

We need better, more powerful ways for solving for customer retention and scalable growth.

In Part 1 of 3: Prevailing in the Age of Accelerations we presented how building Digital Product Masters (DPM) mitigates unfunded liability risks and enables organizations to move fast, adapt quickly, and improve top line revenue.

In Part 2 of 3 the domains of Business and Enterprise Architecture and a simplification of a deep and potentially complicated topic. In it I Introduce the idea of rightsizing enterprise architecture with a, hopefully, easy to understand analogy.

Why you need a right-sized Enterprise Architecture

Over the years I used many different treatments and flavors for Strategy Maps, Business Architectures, Value Chain and Value Streams, Business Process Analyses, and Enterprise Architectures. They produced enormous benefits for my clients.

I have also witnessed confusion and apathy.

I set out to understand why, and what IT leaders and I can do to better align strategy with the delivery of crucial IT services … and the process, build a more resilient and lean IT services infrastructure for a growth-oriented enterprise.

This took me a few years to clarify the root issues and understand the positive benefit and the pitfalls of a simple, light-weight and elegant growth architecture for businesses.

Here’s where I started: deciding which methodologies and artifacts that should use and which ones should I simplify, deprecate, or discard all together.

Loose Parts vs. Kits

First, we should think about the type of methodologies to use as a foundation. Here we can build upon an existing framework or piece together various artifacts and protocols: Lego kits or bag of pieces.

You can buy Legos building brick sets by the bag or box :

Or you can buy Lego kits with instructions to build / customize :

The Enterprise Architecture domain is like an assorted set of Lego bricks.

A right-sized architecture is more like Lego kits.

DPM is that kit

I invented the Digital Product Master or DPM to provide a pre-packaged, quick-start framework for managing a customer instance of a SaaS product or suite.

For non-technical end-use firms, DPM reduces the total life cycle costs of a service by as much as 50 percent…from hiring and training the right talent and managing developers and customer-facing personnel to objective performance standards to building the most crucial onboarding and user-success assets (explainer videos, conceptual backgrounders, power-use how-to’s etc.)

For SaaS and digital product vendors, I’ve extended the customer-centered DPM to address the product-margin life cycle: how to minimize technical debt, reduce mean-time-to-recover from catastrophic failures, lower the risks of continuous delivery, and reduce the churn rate.

The table below depicts the market for DPMs among SaaS and digital product firms and their customers, Non-tech B2B companies.

DPM constitutes a simplified lightweight version of established but too-complex-for-our needs Business Architecture and Enterprise Architecture planning activities.

Each DPM instantiates a set of templates and teamwork protocols from a model master.

This model master balances the fundamental elements of tools, flows and teams for enabling sustainable growth capabilities.

Ikea Solution for Business?

A well-build DPM curates crucial artifacts associated with a complex, evolving business capabilities.

Think of DPM as Ikea living room set … ready for do-it-yourself assembly (plus TaskRabbit helper) … configuring a semi-custom solution to make room with weird dimensions look as those an interior designer performed a miracle.

However the goal of a DPM is both simple and hard: consistent improvement of effectiveness, efficiency, agility, and scalability of your digital business.

Activity & Capability Models

The Digital Model Master consists of two main elements that represent the two primary components: Activities and Capabilities.

Activities characterize what occurs as an organization implements its business model. This represents the relationships and interactions of business entities as tools, flows, and teams.

Capabilities characterize the ability to get things done. Conventionally, people understand capabilities as enabling people, process, and technology.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the two important elements of a Digital Product Master.

Activity : < Tools > < Flows > < Teams >

Activities are what occurs in an organization while implementing their business model

The idea of Activities closely aligned with Business Value streams activity elements. Value streams depict the collection of value-adding activities that create an overall result for a customer, stakeholder, or end-user. The Lean definition maps the actions that move information and material on order to analysis and optimize flows.

I choose to define a model of the three business entities of tools, flows and teams. The model depict the relationship of team stakeholders acting in activity flows, the information exchange between activity flows and supporting tools, and use of tools by stakeholder team members.

Defined by The Open Group as: “Activity Models (also called Business Process Models) describe the functions associated with the enterprise’s business activities, the data and/or information exchanged between activities (internal exchanges), and the data and/or information exchanged with other activities that are outside the scope of the model (external exchanges).

Activities are a conceptual model of the relationships and interactions of business Tools, Flows, and Teams that occur in an organization during implementation of their business model to create value.

DPM clarifies and documents value-adding interactions of business activities.


A tool is a physical item or technology that is used to achieve a goal or complete an action.

Tools model software application features aligned with logical technology components and systems services.

DPM specifies tools deployed to improve efficiency of processes and people.


A Flow is a pattern of business activity, actions, and data exchanges.

Flows model workflows of business activity with roles, actions, decisions, resources, process outcome and metrics.

DPM documents the alignment of process map roles, actions and flow decisions with resources, activities, effectiveness indicators


A Team is a group of people with complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project.

Teams model knowledge and experience of team member positions to competently perform their roles.

DPM speeds talent acquisition, onboarding, and career success to create more efficient and effective teams

Capability : < People> < Process> < Technology>

Capabilities model the ability of an irvanization to execute its business model or fulfill its mission

As defined by The Open Group: “An ability that an organization, person, or system possesses. Capabilities are typically expressed in general and high-level terms and typically require a combination of organization, people, processes, and technology to achieve. For example, marketing, customer contact, or outbound telemarketing.”
Definition by OMG: “A capability model describes the. complete set of capabilities an organization requires to execute its business model or fulfill its mission. An easy way to grasp the concept is to think about capabilities as organizational level skills embedded in people, process, and/or technology.”

Capabilities are logical models and artifacts of the supporting elements of People, Process and Technology.

Capabilities describe organizations ability to achieve a specific outcome enabled by organizational level skills embedded in people, process, and/or technology.

DPM describes the organization’s ability to achieve specific outcomes

Team Competency Model

Align position description, skill and behaviour maturity and career path lattice with process role responsibilities

People are individuals or members of a team responsibility for enabling a business capability

People and Team Competency model aligns necessary knowledge, skills, career paths with organizational role responsibilities

DPM defines individual or team responsible for enabling business capability

Process Flow Model

Aligns business process map role, actions and flow decisions with resources, activities, effectiveness indicators

Processes are sets of actions and steps defined to enable a business capability.

Process model weaves together unique attributes that contribute to a more holistic representation of a business process

DPM defines set of actions and steps to enable a business capability

Technical Architecture Model

Aligns application features and features sets with logical technology components and systems services

Technology is tools and machines used to solve real-world problems in support of a business capability.

Technology model represents elements of information and data systems that provide tools used to implements processes by team members

DPM specifies technology stack used to solve real-world problems in support of a business capability

Ontology What?

Enterprise methodologies, charts, tables, and diagrams have long been used to create paper visualizations of organizations activities, functions, process and data system.

A DPM is much more than that. It is a digital semantic model of those things and can lead to operationalizing what used to be only on paper.

A semantic representation of information contains the meaning of the encapsulated relationships between entities, actors, actions.

In other words, the knowledge and information is contained in the data. The model is a digital knowledge graph of an organization.

So what is the Digital Product Model Master (DPMM) Ontology?

  • This is the digital framework or scaffolding for constructing custom Digital Product Master.
  • Provides predefined structures of DPM elements as a template for customization
  • The semantic representation contains the meaning of entities and their encapsulated relationships

This is the first step towards a building Digital Twins via DPM

RDF models described Web Ontology Language (OWL) are often visualized as a force -directed graph. It shows entities in the model as nodes or vertices. It shows the relationships between entities, related entities and data properties as links or edges.

See visualization of DPMM via WebVowl

The OWL definition file for the DPMM ontology can be downloaded from GitHub.

Ontologies and Semantic Vocabulary based datasets are represented as a Graph data model. The relationships between data entities, data properties and other entities are defined with semantic definitions from common Linked Data references. This provide contextual meaning outside of an internal only dataset.

The graph model allows inference engines to deduce new facts from traversing and combining linked data. They also can work backwards from goal assertions to find facts need to achieve that goal.

An example is clustering and regression, two common Big Data analytical techniques.

By simply asserting data fields as ‘sameAs’ or ‘similarTo’ common standards, a powerful new set of question answering capabilities is unlessed.

DPM provides the pathway to answers to question not thought possible before.

What do you want to “Ask the Data?”

The Semantic Graph supports contextual reasoning and query by example pattern matching.

Potential questions include:

  • What talent gaps do we have?
  • Do we have the talent needed to deliver new service?
  • What is the business impact of this system outage?
  • Do our systems collect and share crucial data needed for analysis?
  • Have we defined the required experience-level for that role?
  • Do I need a vendor’s promoted capabilities or do we have it elsewhere?

What additional questions do you have of your data? Let me know.

Next up: Part 3 of 3

Part 3 of 3: A Case to Study

Sample of elements from a SaaS company are shown to fully demonstrate to power of DPM

As always, if you have any questions, let me know!