What is Global Enterprise Architecture?

image Recently the term Global Enterprise Architecture has been floating around. I find myself wondering if this is yet another fluffy EA term.  Is it the same as Enterprise Architecture or is there something special about it?

Well, yes and no. We are hearing more and more about Global EA with the continuing globalization efforts. Mergers and Acquisitions are occurring at an increased rate. China and India are booming with Russia, South America, Ireland and others benefiting from this trend.

With these outsourcing activities occurring to try to minimize overall cost there are a wide variety of implications. Now security and compliance issues become much more complex, different national infrastructures can also be problematic. With all of this new complexity Global organizations have realized they need something similar to EA at the global level.

So was Homer right in 900 B.C.? Is the world flat? Well if you look at his view on the right, which is the The Homeric conception of the world represented as a flat, not so much. The circular disc of land surrounded by a continuous ocean-stream didn’t pan out. However, from a logical point of view yes. With transportation, communications and the Internet we might as well be one big island.

So getting back to Global EA. What is it, really? Forrester defines Global EA as:

An extension and modification of local and regional architectures and EA practices to encompass a broader set of requirements and challenges related to pursuing IT strategy on a global scale.

My personal opinion is that I agree with Forrester. Global EA is merely a way to qualify the scope of a particular EA organization. I have found that the functions stay the same, but the mix and the depth of activities change.

So does this mean that Global EA is even more abstract than traditional EA? I don’t think so. In some areas they will be, in other they might go deeper. For example, I see business and information architecture having more of an emphasis in Global EA. The reason for this is  when you go across national borders technology is the least of your problems. You must deal with massive transformations of currency, numerical systems and languages. This isn’t a trivial task. To compound the issue you have different regulations in each country. Some of which conflict with others.

These challenges lead Global EA’s to put their business and information hat on to make recommendations and decisions based these external forces. Whereas in EA organization that were at the national level didn’t have these far reaching problems.

I am sure your wondering what happens to the regional / national traditional EA organization. Does it go away? No. I think that it plays an important role in Global EA. It may not have as many people in that team as a traditional one would but nevertheless it still adds value.



We may start to see models like you see above, where you have a global EA function and possibly regional, continental or national EA bodies. All severing a purpose. Similarly to the US Government where you have the following break down:

  • National
  • State
  • County
  • City

Each servers there purpose and has a specific scope and context on how they resolve issues and make decisions. They are closely aligned however they can also make their own decisions. They have there own versions of the government at their specific layer of abstraction.

That’s where I see things landing based on my conversations with customers. What are your thoughts? If there is more interest I can go deeper on this topic.


Tags: Enterprise Architecture


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