Why EA is no longer just for Enterprise Architects

8 Nov 2018

by Petteri Vainikka

The New EA’s focus on augmented intelligence is sparking interest among business leaders

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is evolving. Once the domain of enterprise architects, CIOs, and CTOs, EA has shifted from a technology-centric function to one that focuses on the value of the data, and how it can better inform decision-making across an organization.

“Old-school EA has been too tactical, too technology-centric, or too disengaged from business priorities to have significant impact,”

notes Forrester.

Instead, EA today recognizes the growing number of stakeholders within an organization and is adapting to helping people collaborate. It does this by prioritizing meeting business objectives and moving towards greater federation or using agile methods with blended business and technology teams.

“Purely centralized EA programs with waterfall methodologies are not designed for speed, and organizations view programs that cling to old methods as roadblocks,”

says Forrester.

As a result, ‘New EA’ is transcending the traditional confines of IT to become a key boardroom discussion point among senior decision makers who want to leverage its analytics capabilities to gain vital insight into the business and drive growth.

As we’ve talked about previously, the latest generation of EA focuses on real-time augmented intelligence that delivers contextually-enriched, machine-to-machine, and crowdsourced data that help support business intelligence for executives, rather than a framework-constrained rigid architecture.

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These changes are leading to the democratization of IT. EA’s emphasis on augmented analytics rather than architecture means it’s becoming more accessible to business decision makers who understand both the challenges and value of analytics in a way they rarely understand enterprise architecture. Subsequently, the conversation has shifted from academic discourse around frameworks or data models, to how it can offer true business value.

This is reflective of customers’ IT investments across the spectrum. Digital transformation isn’t about the speeds and feeds of a specific technology solution, but a means to lower operational costs, improve customer relationships or increase productivity. The same is true for EA; the C-suite today wants access to real-time data that empowers them to make decisions that will provide them with an advantage in an increasingly competitive environment. Their first question is: “What can EA do for my business?”

“Stakeholders…are now looking for strategic architectures that move their businesses forward. EA programs that base their value on being the smartest techies on a project need to shed that skin – but old ways of working and the preconceptions of key stakeholders can hold them back,”

says Forrester.

This approach means it’s also easier for senior executives to make the connection between EA projects and how they can affect the organization’s bottom line. For example, when the data produced makes the business case for investment in areas such as cybersecurity, data privacy, security and compliance, much clearer.

Elsewhere, Gartner – who coined the term ‘business-outcome-driven EA’ – notes the shift towards a customer-centric approach to EA. It says focusing on the customer gives organizations the information required to design digital business models that support what customers need.

The analyst says that by 2018, 40% of enterprise architects will focus on design-driven architecture, and that architects with business ecosystem modeling expertise will see their value inside the organization increase by 40%. “Design thinking is about putting the customer at the center, designing a solution for them and then linking the solution to traditional architect pieces,” it explains.

To elaborate further, Forrester lists four critical success factors for customer-obsessed digital business, that an EA program should be enabling:

AR---AT---Customer-Led-[Inline]

Customer-led: Their customers – what they value and how to best serve their needs — are the center of business strategy and their operating model.

AR---AT---Insight-driven-[Inline]

Insight-driven: Decisions, both the day-to-day operational as well as the strategic, are based on deep insights into their customers, markets, and the broader ecosystem.

AR---AT---Move-fast-[Inline]

Move fast: They use speed to continually evolve how they go to market and serve their customers. They balance opportunity, which must be responded to quickly – with caution – a desire to ‘be perfect out of the gate’.

AR---AT---Get-connected-[Inline]

Get connected: They break down silos to have a shared understanding of business goals and use a multi-discipline approach executing on strategy.

The good news for enterprise architects is they’re still in demand. Two thirds (61%) of CIOs responding to last year’s Harvey Nash and KPMG IT leadership survey said technology projects are more complex than they were five years ago, and to help deliver digital strategies, demand for enterprise architects is up 26% compared to 2016, making it the fastest growing IT skill.

However, their role is evolving in line with the new EA. They’re moving away from their traditional IT roles towards helping the rest of the business understand what’s really going on in relation to their digital transformation. In addition, by focusing on augmented intelligence, EA today is more accessible to other business stakeholders than ever before.

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