Author: Mac Lemon, Managing Director

Some three years ago I posted on Birthing an International Standard; the story of how we partnered with CAUDIT (Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology) to package and release our highly-evolved business and information reference models for use by higher education institutions globally under a Creative Commons license. At the time, the notion of sharing these resources seemed counterintuitive, as we were effectively giving away something we had previously considered a competitive advantage, but we pushed ahead in the belief that the industry required a standard that would catalyse business and technology planning in a sector that was subject to major disruptive transformation. We chose to partner with CAUDIT in order to formalise a publishing authority within the sector and we published under a Creative Commons license such that the use and extension of the models could be tracked and considered for inclusion in subsequent releases. 

On 23rd May 2019, after an extensive period of collaboration with the CAUDIT Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice and their related contributors, V2.0 of the business reference model was published. This gave me cause for reflection on the journey of adoption and propagation of this industry standard.


At the time of initial publication, we presumed the models would be widely embraced within Australia where indeed some 60 institutions have now accessed and used the models, but we have been delighted by the level of international adoption. Thus far the models have been downloaded by 262 institutions across 27 countries. This uptake has been aided by the strong affiliation amongst the national and international groups supporting the higher education sector, CAUDIT as an Australian and New Zealand focused CIO community maintaining affiliation with international groups such as CHEITA, EDUCAUSE and ITANA. Beyond adoption levels alone – the need for and value of the reference models is further evidenced by EA tool vendors and software/solution providers within the sector importing the models and using them as a means of demonstrating the business capabilities and information sources supported by their solutions.  

Global Attention



So, what of the journey to release Version 2.0 of the Business Reference Model? Believe it or not, we commenced this process some two years ago, after the models had been published for a little over a year. Published under a Creative Commons 4.0 License, adopters were canvassed for changes and extensions for possible inclusion and a process for capturing and considering submissions established. This required substantive effort on the part of the CAUDIT EA Community of Practice alongside the FromHereOn higher education team, all of whom contributed their time alongside their day jobs.  This took much longer than we could have predicted, and I have a new-found empathy for the likes of The Open Group who took almost 10 years to progress TOGAF 9.1 to Version 9.2.

Submissions for Version 2 were received from more than twenty-five organisations, large amongst them were of course organisations who had underpinned major strategy, blueprinting, and road -mapping works with capability-based planning based upon the Business Reference Model. These organisations tested the limits of the models and drove material extensions. It’s worth mentioning the contributions of The University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, whose extensive application of the models led to material model extensions; and the input from ITANA, which brought a valuable international perspective. 

What have we learnt in the three years since we collaborated with CAUDIT to publish what we hoped would become a valuable industry standard?

  • A standard cannot be decreed – but will emerge because of tangible value, accessibility and reaching a tipping point of demand, adoption and socialisation. 

  • While controls must be in place to prevent its immediate dilution through forked variants, there must be designed in flex to be adaptable in an ever-changing environment with the intention of evolving.

  • Publishing a substantive update can involve far more effort than that involved in the initial publication. The processes for accepting, vetting and consolidating changes from prominent users is a highly involved business. Without the extensive support efforts of the CAUDIT team to vet and rationalise contributions it would be impossible to evolve the models in a controlled way.

  • A standard that cannot grow or evolve is destined for obsolescence.

We look forward to continuing to evolve this industry standard and watching its ongoing adoption. Higher education institutions can request access to V2 of the Higher Education Business Reference Model here.

A special mention for the efforts of Nigel Foxwell of James Cook University and Jeff Kennedy of the University of Auckland for their extraordinary efforts in driving the CAUDIT EA Community of Practice and partnering in the publication of Version 2 of the Higher Education Business Reference Model.

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