The International Enterprise Architecture Institute (IEAI) defines enterprise architecture (EA) as “the analysis and documentation of an enterprise in its current and future states from an integrated strategy, business and technology perspective.”
In the era of data-driven business, such perspective is critical.
IT has graduated from a support department to a proactive, value-driving function. As such, fostering alignment between IT and the wider organization has become more important than ever.
As the IEAI’s definition indicates, enterprise architecture tools are key drivers in ensuring such alignment because they help organizations understand their systems, applications and assets from a holistic, top-down perspective.
An organization can better identify gaps in its current architecture to better understand how to reach the desired future-state objectives and architecture.
EA also enables a better understanding of change, or impact analysis – which is essential considering the agile, data-driven landscape and its state of flux.
Enterprise architecture tools allow an organization to map its applications – complete with their associated technologies and data – to the business functions they power.
For this reason, enterprise architecture tools also are key to a data governance initiative, and part of the technologies used as data governance tools.
EA leads to a greater understanding of the interdependencies of its data assets and enables an organization to better plan, budget and execute new strategy and ideas.
In addition to better impact analysis and ensuring IT-business alignment, enterprise architecture tools help organizations:
Enterprise architecture initially was housed within IT and therefore acted in an enterprise support role as well.
However, this led to the perception (and arguably, a reality) of enterprise architecture operating in an ivory tower, siloed from the wider business.
As problematic as that was in the years prior to the data-driven business surge, such problems have intensified in its wake.
Changing such a perception is critical for organizations looking to implement or mature an EA initiative.
Enterprise architecture tools with a greater emphasis on collaboration have been an excellent driver of such change.
With such enterprise architecture tools in place, organizations and their enterprise architects can employ more proactive, business outcome-oriented and value-driving applications for EA.
The centralization of enterprise architecture has presented enterprise architects with new opportunities.
The role itself has become less pigeon-holed since outgrowing its IT silo. In fact, the enterprise architecture role itself has become less definable.
Now, organizations tend to organize enterprise architects in whatever way best serves their goals.
In an enterprise architecture team, each team member often will have some role-specific knowledge and then take the lead in managing that particular area.
For example, cases have been made for enterprise architects taking a seat at the security table.
And considering the growing importance of EA in the constantly changing data-driven business landscape, strong arguments can be made for enterprise architects reporting directly to the C-suite.
Like the tech industry in general, the only constant in enterprise architecture is change. Roles and titles will continue to evolve to meet new challenges in the face of digital transformation.
In recent years, enterprise architects and enterprise architecture tools are increasingly more involved in ideation and innovation management.
Marcus Blosch, Vice President Analyst at Gartner, spoke to this: “By 2021, 40 percent of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies.”
But changes to the way EA is applied require enterprise architects to change also. Thus, enterprise architects now have to ensure they’re not solely focussed on the standard EA framework.
Although such an approach might be useful to enterprise architects, it doesn’t necessarily translate to the wider business.
Enterprise architects adopting a more business-outcome approach to the way they work helps them better demonstrate the value of EA people outside its echo chamber.
Additionally, enterprise architects must recognize that today their work is never “finished.”
Too many enterprise architecture initiatives stall because of what we call “analysis paralysis.”
In a blog for Medium, Believe Success defined analysis paralysis as “an anti-pattern, the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.”
To avoid such a state, enterprise architects in the data-driven world must adopt a “just enough” approach to enterprise architecture.
The “just-enough” approach ensures EA is always focused on improving operations for the right business outcomes, not bogged down in analysis and jargon that does not translate to the wider organization.
As part of our wider Enterprise Data Governance Experience (EDGE) platform, erwin provides enterprise architecture tools tailor-made to meet the needs of the modern enterprise architect, as outlined above.