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Top Use Cases for Enterprise Architecture: Architect Everything

by Zak Cole       • October 17, 2019

Architect Everything: New use cases for enterprise architecture are increasing enterprise architect’s stock in data-driven business

As enterprise architecture has evolved, so to have the use cases for enterprise architecture.

Analyst firm Ovum recently released a new report titled Ovum Market Radar: Enterprise Architecture. In it, they make the case that enterprise architecture (EA) is becoming AE – or “architect everything”.

The transition highlights enterprise architecture’s evolution from being solely an IT function to being more closely aligned with the business. As such, the function has changed from EA to AE.

At erwin, we’re definitely witnessing this EA evolution as more and more as organizations undertake digital transformation initiatives, including rearchitecting their business models and value streams, as well as responding to increasing regulatory pressures.

This is because EA provides the right information to the right people at the right time for smarter decision-making.

Following are some of the top use cases for enterprise architecture that demonstrate how EA is moving beyond IT and into the business.

Enterprise Architecture Use Cases

Top 7 Use Cases for Enterprise Architecture

Compliance. Enterprise architecture is critical for regulatory compliance. It helps model, manage and transform mission-critical value streams across industries, as well as identify sensitive information. When thousands of employees need to know what compliance processes to follow, such as those associated with regulations (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, CCPA, etc.) it ensures not only access to proper documentation but also current, updated information.

The Regulatory Rationale for Integrating Data Management & Data Governance

Data security/risk management. EA should be commonplace in data security planning. Any flaw in the way data is stored or monitored is a potential ‘in’ for a breach, and so businesses have to ensure security surrounding sensitive information is thorough and covers the whole business. Security should be proactive, not reactive, which is why EA should be a huge part of security planning.

Data governance. Today’s enterprise embraces data governance to drive data opportunities, including growing revenue, and limit data risks, including regulatory and compliance gaffes.

EA solutions that provide much-needed insight into the relationship between data assets and applications make it possible to appropriately direct data usage and flows, as well as focus greater attention, if warranted, on applications where data use delivers optimal business value.

Digital transformation. For an organization to successfully embrace change, innovation, EA and project delivery need to be intertwined and traceable. Enterprise architects are crucial to delivering innovation. Taking an idea from concept to delivery requires strategic planning and the ability to execute. An enterprise architecture roadmap can help focus such plans and many organizations are now utilizing them to prepare their enterprise architectures for 5G.

Mergers & acquisitions. Enterprise architecture is essential to successful mergers and acquisitions. It helps alignment by providing a business- outcome perspective for IT and guiding transformation. It also helps define strategy and models, improving interdepartmental cohesion and communication.

In an M&A scenario, businesses need to ensure their systems are fully documented and rationalized. This way they can comb through their inventories to make more informed decisions about which systems to cut or phase out to operate more efficiently.

Innovation management. EA is crucial to innovation and project delivery. Using open standards to link to other products within the overall project lifecycle, integrating agile enterprise architecture with agile development and connecting project delivery with effective governance.

It takes a rigorous approach to ensure that current and future states are published for a wider audience for consumption and collaboration – from modeling to generating road maps with meaningful insights provided to both technical and business stakeholders during every step.

Knowledge retention. Unlocking knowledge and then putting systems in place to retain that knowledge is a key benefit of EA. Many organizations lack a structured approach for gathering and investigating employee ideas. Ideas can fall into a black hole where they don’t get feedback and employees become less engaged.

When your enterprise architecture is aligned with your business outcomes, it provides a way to help your business ideate and investigate the viability of ideas on both the technical and business level.

If the benefits of enterprise architecture would help your business, here’s how you can try erwin EA for free.

Enterprise Architecture Business Process Trial

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  • Stephen F. Heffner
    Zak -- I define an enterprise's architecture as the structure of its data + the structure of its processes + the interaction between the two, in terms of the enterprise's goals and objectives. The Enterprise Architect's proper duties are to document, rationalize, optimize, defend, consult on, and educate about the enterprise's architecture. For more on this, see my LinkedIn articles "What Is Enterprise Architecture?", "How to Start an Enterprise Architecture Practice", and "How to Create your Enterprise Schema", all available via my LinkedIn profile under "Articles". I have identified three EA killers -- conflating EA with a) IT, b) transformation (including solutions), and c) the entire enterprise (including its strategy). "solely an IT function" -- as I define it, it never should have been; that's EA killer #1. "more closely aligned with the business" -- by its very nature, proper EA cannot possibly be "misaligned" with the enterprise's business. It's in every nook and cranny of the enterprise (computerized or not), all the time. Its goal is to provide, maintain, and enhance the enterprise's architecture -- to serve as a solid foundation on which strategies and solutions for achieving the enterprise's goals and objectives can be created by strategists and solution architects. EA should oversee all of that, with veto power, but should have no direct responsibility for any of it. "...EA provides the right information to the right people at the right time" -- no, that's done by solution architects, so that's EA killer #2. EA makes it possible by providing a rationalized data and process structure on which to build it. So EA is an enabler, not a provider. "...EA is moving beyond IT and into the business" -- EA should have been "into the business" from the start, as described above. "Top 7 Use Cases for Enterprise Architecture" -- these are examples of how a solid EA foundation enables those "use cases", but they are no more "EA use cases" than is, say, payroll. EA's "use case" is best described in terms of how essential a documented, rationalized, and optimized enterprise architecture is to the success of the enterprise. So it's not really a "use case". "Enterprise architecture...helps alignment by providing a business-outcome perspective for IT and guiding transformation" -- I agree that EA is essential in M&A activities, in the form of an EA audit of both parties by both parties, without which both sides are flying blind. But not by EA "providing a perspective" (EA killer #3) or "guiding transformation" (EA killers #1 and #2); that's for strategists and solution architects to do, with EA oversight. "In an M&A scenario, businesses need to ensure their systems are fully documented and rationalized." I agree 100%! But that's not just for M&A; it's necessary in the normal course of business, to lower risk and enhance business agility. And by "systems", I mean all of them, computerized or not.

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