A memo to the CEO – Why an Enterprise Architecture practice is so critical for the success of an Organization?

Almost all corporations are looking to their technology organization to provide them with capabilities that will give them the competitive advantage over their competitors in short a period of time. More and more businesses are asking their IT organization to deliver greater flexibility and new capabilities. Business events are occurring with greater frequency then ever, changes are happening in businesses due to new product/services launch, companies are moving in new territories, organization are outsourcing/off shoring functions to third parties, merger and acquisitions are happening at a greater frequency, restructuring of the organization are happening due to performance or economical reasons, compliance changes and major regulatory changes are happening. These changes are creating greater gaps between business and IT, both in strategy and operation discipline. There seems to be misalignment of the two organizations. To manage these gaps, companies have come up with different models to address this issue by creating various teams e.g. project management, business analysts, and Architecture teams. Most of the time these teams are placed with the IT organization. These experiments have created mix results without solving the fundamental problem of aligning the business with IT to deliver capabilities. Last  4 to 5 years organizations have realized that they need an organization which can act as glue between business and IT that can deliver business flexibility and at the same time reduce IT complexity. Enterprise Architect (EA) has emerged as the discipline that can deliver this promise.

The Enterprise architecture has been around for more then 20 years but in the fast 7 to 10 years that organization have realized the value of the Enterprise Architecture practice in aligning business with the IT capabilities. Due to greater outside pressure and its benefits more and more organizations are introducing Enterprise Architecture as a practice in an organization reporting to the CXO/CEO. The key goal of an EA practice in any organization is to increase interoperability, enhance IT and business flexibility and reduce complexities.

The organizations that have adapted EA as practice have high hopes and are expecting measurable and quantifiable results from this high cost center. EA practices are all facing enormous challenges. The biggest challenge EA organizations are facing is how to show EA’s business value contribution to an organization. Some of the other challenges that are effecting the performance of an EA organization include:

1)      Business and IT are align at higher level but total disconnect when it comes to implementation

2)      Issues around planning and delivery cycles

3)      No complete view of the data for decision making purposes

4)      Break down on information flow across enterprise

5)      No effective business architecture

6)      IT portfolio management challenges

7)      Vendor management

In order to overcome these challenges and show value contribution, EA organization are following industry standards and EA frameworks like TOGAF, and Zachmen to show value contribution at all levels from capabilities envision to realization.  EA practices are increasing bottom line revenues by providing business capabilities through simplification, and standardization. Based on the maturity level of an EA capability, contributions can seen in business enablement due to greater collaboration with IT capabilities , ROI accountability both in lifecycle efficiently due to standardization and business case discipline due to use of proven techniques, and strategy management where the contribution of the EA team can be seen in strategy development,  business continuity planning and technology roadmaps. Downstream EA benefits can be seen in EA deliverable which includes things like efficiencies in IT assets management, project management and induction of value creating emerging technology that are align with IT strategic direction. These efficiencies in turn enhance IT performance because they simply, standardize and enhance IT capabilities which in turn add value to the business by reducing cost and increasing revenue.

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