Enterprise Architecture, The Great Journey from IT to the Business

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There is a ton of buzz happening in the Enterprise Architecture community regarding the panel discussion Examining the Current State of EA 2011  at the Open Group Conference. This has been reported on by the majority of the EA and Technology bloggers such as Joe McKendrick  though his post “Do enterprise architects work for IT or the business or what?” and the Charles Babcock post on “Enterprise Architects’ Role In Aligning IT With Business”.

 

The buzz is centered around the notion of EA moving to the business. I am really happy to see the industry lock in on this. With the confusion over the past couple years on if Enterprise Architecture would survive the economic climate, we found out it thrived. To do that it needed to reduce the waste.

 

To some, this analysis is less of an revelation but more of validation. This is certainly a validation of all those hard years of work towards a business driven Enterprise Architecture.

 

Enterprise Architecture has gone on a bit of a Lewis and Clark adventure over the past 20ish years. From it’s beginnings as a classification and decision making framework to where it is now has been a dramatic transformation. 

 

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It is interesting to hear the dramatic statements of “Enterprise Architecture In The Year 2020: Strategic Nexus or Oblivion?” when most of us practitioners have been betting our careers on this transformation to occur. From the brief look at the history and roadmap above it looks like a very likely possibility.

 

When we look at the road ahead what are the key inhibitors to this transformation:

  •  Accountability in the Business – Until EA moves from the advisor to owning a portion of the responsibility and accountabilities within the business it will struggle to make that move. From the perspective of an executive in the business, why would they trust an EA if he/she doesn’t have any “skin in the game”? Forrester Research VP Gene Leganza discussed a similar aspect in the statement “"owns the business planning process”
  • Maturity – This one word says it all. The EA space has to mature before the business can double down on it. This is everything from the approaches, what EA focuses on, the methods used, approaches, outcomes, competencies and standardization. Industry standards bodies are a great place to start. We seen the transformation of TOGAF from TOGAF 7 the IT Edition to TOGAF 8 Enterprise Edition. I think that TOGAF 10 has to be Business Edition. TOGAF 9 has started this with the focus more on business architecture.
  • Competencies – The journey from an IT focused architecture group to business driven Enterprise Architecture group naturally there is a built up infrastructure to support these companies through the transition. For there to be a transformation the competencies of Enterprise Architects need to be revisited and calibrated to a new set of standards. Organizations like IASA with their CITA-P and the Open Group with ITAC certifications focus on the Enterprise Architect part of the equation. They need to up-level their certifications to make the business a first class citizen.
  • Business Conversations – Dropping the tech talk and speaking in terms of the business will go a long way. Instead of complex IT speak about the benefits of virtualization or cloud shift to discuss how you can lower the cost per transaction or how to enable a remote sales for to increase customer satisfaction. Current EA’s have learned their business but some struggle to talk in terms of the business.
  • Discover and Deliver the Value – With so many failures in delivery of solutions for the business, EA’s need to get back to the roots of what is value and how to maximize it for their business.  This point is driven home from the latest analyst thinking from the Standish Group stating that 50% of all technology initiatives are a waste of money. If EA’s are going to be credible with and in the business they are the best equipped to turn this around.

 

While these macro level inhibitors are substantial, there have been great strides in the industry to tackle them. There is investment in EA despite the challenges. We are seeing evidence that companies like Caterpillar, Aetna and United Airlines elevating EA to new heights.

 

Let’s keep making the great strides as an EA industry and profession!

 

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