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The Future of Enterprise Architecture

by Martin Owen       • November 13, 2020

The business challenges facing organizations today emphasize the value of enterprise architecture (EA), so the future of EA is closer than you think. Are you ready for it?

COVID-19 has forced organizations around the globe to re-examine or reimagine themselves. However, even in “normal times,” business leaders need to understand how to grow, bring new products to market through organic growth or acquisition, identify new trends and opportunities, determine if new opportunities provide a return on investment, etc. Organizations that can identify these opportunities and respond to them have a distinct edge over their competitors.

Of course, enterprise architecture plays an important role in helping to confront and/or capitalize on these use cases:

  • COVID-19 Global Response Plans
  • Digital Transformation
  • Data Security & Risk Management
  • Compliance/Legislation
  • Innovation Management
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Knowledge Improvement and Retention
  • Data Center Consolidation
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Cloud Migration
  • Application Portfolio Management
  • Data Governance (knowing what data you have and where it is)

Let’s dig into the first two and then look at the role of enterprise architects and how to ensure your EA tools are up to the tasks ahead.

change management enterprise architecture

Chaos Creates Opportunity

COVID-19 is not just accelerating digital progress, it’s also driving a radical change in thinking, as organizations reset. The most significant COVID business takeaway has been the readiness of organizations and their employees to challenge rules, break conventions, and cut through red tape to stay in business.

In the first phases of the pandemic, organizations had to navigate business continuity and how they were going to survive. As we move into recovery mode, organizations are assessing the processes, systems and technologies that will help them assimilate to the new normal and thrive post-pandemic.

EA provides a way to drive change through every phase of recovery by providing an understanding of technology assets with business needs. For example, a COVID response plan will use EA to document if employees work from home, what their roles are, the projects on which they’re working, and what their schedules are.

Enterprise architecture has been critical to helping businesses navigate the pandemic to ensure business continuity, reimagine their business and operating models, and identify the tools to survive and ultimately thrive in a post-COVID world.

Digital Transformation

The key driver of modern EA is the demand for digital transformation. Data-driven business models and information-fueled business ecosystems provide the basis for new, innovative products and services.

The need for digital transformation has led enterprise architects to think about EA based on insights and outcomes throughout the architectural products. Architectural products are configurations of business capabilities to facilitate customer journeys, value chains, products and customer lifecycles, thus bringing the enterprise architecture much closer to the roles of product managers, customer success managers, digital platform and marketing experts.

However, digital transformation presents many challenges so it’s important not to focus on technology simply for technology’s sake. To realize successful transformation, an organization should establish new business models and the underlying supporting operating models. For example, an enterprise should start by developing a target operating model, which includes:

  • Key performance indicators (including goals, performance and benefits realization)
  • Technology (addressing business and operation systems, the assets, resources and the business)
  • Process (including the product life cycle, the development, the quality, the management and the assurance processes)
  • People management (addressing leadership, ways of working, skills and competencies and capabilities)

Enterprise Architects Become More Valuable

The importance of the enterprise architect role is recognized widely in successful businesses. An enterprise architect is now required to understand improved value through many different aspects of the business, including profits and loss, share value, risk, sales, customers and products, to name a few.

According to Gartner’s Vice President Analyst Marcus Blosch,”By 2021, 40% of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies. EA and technology innovation leaders must use the latest business and technology ideas to create new revenue streams, services and customer experiences.”

Many organizations see business architecture as a starting point for EA, incorporating business processes and organizational design with the ability to connect to IT programs and goals.

Traditional EA is not forgotten and EAs continue to support IT governance, assurance, architecture standards and architecture review boards; however, there’s more focus on agility than command and control as has been traditionally the case with EA.

A good enterprise architect understands and tracks technology trends and appreciates how to apply these to business to enable good business outcomes.

According to Gartner, today’s enterprise architects play a transformational role in their organization. They lead and define business operating models and often have a seat at the table to advise executives and other important decision-makers. In this sense, they are trusted advisors and act in a consultancy capacity to the rest of the organization.

As with most professions, enterprise architect salaries tend to increase with years of experience and are healthy. It’s also noticeable that enterprise architects who add EA certifications to their resumes report higher earnings.

Future-Proofing EA Tools

Over the years, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools have expanded to cover new business use cases based on customer and financial information.

It’s now important for organizations to develop an ecosystem with EA at the heart of it, with connections to ERP financials, risk systems, employees, etc. This will determine the value of EA tools and their ability to meet the needs of organizations and their EA use cases for today as well as over the next five or so years.

With that said, tools need to retain the traditional EA approaches to inspire architecture. They need to have the functionality to be built on and work up the underlying business operating models to deliver outcomes and to demonstrate real value.

Organizations need to ingest data as inputs from disparate sources within the organization — allowing the contents of the models with the help of artificial intelligence and analytics — to drive decision-making.

Business-driven applications also will be deployed through the EA repositories, which contain a wealth of information, such as strategies, processes, peoples and skills, locations, working practices, metadata, applications and technologies.

An EA tool also should offer technology trend tracking and be designed to showcase new innovation and how it can affect the organization’s goals at speed.

You can learn more by watching “The Future of Enterprise Architecture Is Closer Than You Think” from erwin Insights 2020.

And if you’re ready to get started with an EA tool that can evolve with you and your organization’s needs, then I invite you to try erwin Evolve.

future of enterprise architecture, martin owen

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