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Why EA Needs to Be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

by Marios Forsos       • July 26, 2019

Enterprise architecture (EA) isn’t dead, you’re just using it wrong. Part three of erwin’s digital transformation blog series.  

I’ll let you in on a little secret: the rumor of enterprise architecture’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. However, the truth for many of today’s fast-moving businesses is that enterprise architecture fails. But why?

Enterprise architecture is invaluable for internal business intelligence (but is rarely used for real intelligence), governance (but often has a very narrow focus), management insights (but doesn’t typically provide useful insights), and transformation and planning (ok, now we have something!).

In reality, most organizations do not leverage EA teams to their true potential. Instead they rely on consultants, trends, regulations and legislation to drive strategy.

Why does this happen?

Don’t Put Enterprise Architecture in a Corner

EA has remained in its traditional comfort zone of IT. EA is not only about IT …  but yet, EA lives within IT, focuses on IT and therefore loses its business dimension and support.

It remains isolated and is rarely, if ever, involved in:

  • Assessing, planning and running business transformation initiatives
  • Providing real, enterprise-wide insights
  • Producing actionable initiatives

Instead, it focuses on managing “stuff”:

  • Understanding existing “stuff” by gathering exhaustively detailed information
  • Running “stuff”-deployment projects
  • Managing cost “stuff”
  • “Moving to the cloud” (the solution to … everything)

Enterprise Architecture

What Prevents Enterprise Architecture from Being Successful?

There are three main reasons why EA has been pigeon-holed:

  1. Lack of trust in the available information
    • Information is mostly collected, entered and maintained manually
    • Automated data collection and connection is costly and error-prone
    • Identification of issues can be very difficult and time-consuming
  1. Lack of true asset governance and collaboration
    • Enterprise architecture becomes ring-fenced within a department
    • Few stakeholders willing to be actively involved in owning assets and be responsible for them
    • Collaboration on EA is seen as secondary and mostly focused on reports and status updates
  1. Lack of practical insights (insights, analyses and management views)
    • Too small and narrow thinking of what EA can provide
    • The few analyses performed focus on immediate questions, rarely planning and strategy
    • Collaboration on EA is seen as secondary and mostly focused on reports and status updates

Because of this, EA fails to deliver the relevant insights that management needs to make decisions – in a timely manner – and loses its credibility.

But the fact is EA should be, and was designed to be, about actionable insights leading to innovative architecture, not about only managing “stuff!”

Don’t Slow Your Roll. Elevate Your Role.

It’s clear that the role of EA in driving digital transformation needs to be elevated. It needs to be a strategic partner with the business.

According to a McKinsey report on the “Five Enterprise-Architecture Practices That Add Value to Digital Transformations,” EA teams need to:

“Translate architecture issues into terms that senior executives will understand. Enterprise architects can promote closer alignment between business and IT by helping to translate architecture issues for business leaders and managers who aren’t technology savvy. Engaging senior management in discussions about enterprise architecture requires management to dedicate time and actively work on technology topics. It also requires the EA team to explain technology matters in terms that business leaders can relate to.”

With that said, to further change the perception of EA within the organization you need to serve what management needs. To do this, enterprise architects need to develop innovative business, not IT insights, and make them dynamic. Next, enterprise architects need to gather information you can trust and then maintain.

To provide these strategic insights, you don’t need to focus on everything — you need to focus on what management wants you to focus on. The rest is just IT being IT. And, finally, you need to collaborate – like your life depends on it.

Giving Digital Transformation an Enterprise Architecture EDGE

The job of the enterprise architecture is to provide the tools and insights for the C-suite, and other business stakeholders, to help deploy strategies for business transformation.

Let’s say the CEO has a brilliant idea and wants to test it. This is EA’s sweet spot and opportunity to shine. And this is where erwin lives by providing an easy, automated way to deliver collaboration, speed and responsiveness.

erwin is about providing the right information to the right people at the right time. We are focused on empowering the forward-thinking enterprise architect by providing:

  • Superb, near real-time understanding of information
  • Excellent, intuitive collaboration
  • Dynamic, interactive dashboards (vertical and horizontal)
  • Actual, realistic, business-oriented insights
  • Assessment, planning and implementation support

To learn more about how the erwin EA can fuel digital transformation, please watch our latest webinar,  Automating Enterprise Architecture to Accelerate Digital Transformation.

Data-Driven Business Transformation

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