Do you think that Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a stovepipe discipline for dusty IT people who spend all day documenting how the company worked in the past?
If so, then you should have attended (together with 700 other people) this week’s London Gartner Summit for Enterprise Architecture & Technology Innovation: EA is at the center of change in response to disruptive forces and toward desired outcomes.
EA practitioners earned some sex appeal due to their unique position to help leadership (like IT Strategists, VP’s Digital Transformation, CDO’s, COO’s) determine business outcomes that are aligned with the company’s business strategy.
Based on some valuable Gartner presentations, I summarize my personal Top Three Innovations that require EA to be successful:
1.) Build up a Digital Business Platform and Integrate Your Business Ecosystem
Platforms have become the new products. It is not beneficial to package applications for upcoming new digital use cases. That would result in a complex, unintegrated and inflexible situation. Besides, enterprises do not even know where their new revenue streams will come from (exactly). This makes it even more important to build up a digital business platform that provides the capability to develop whatever is needed yourself.
However, an exact understanding of what digital business is, and what it takes to implement in different industries, is often misunderstood by senior leadership. This provides enterprise architects with an overview of what digital business entails (like its impact on technology, processes, people and information) and the benefits and risks associated with its implementation. EA puts it all into perspective.
Keep in mind that having a digital business platform in place does not mean you are a platform business. For that, you need to have an ecosystem of customers, partners, organizations and even devices that surround the organization via your platform. That can be lucrative since 79% of top performing organizations are platform businesses participating in digital ecosystems. Those successful platform businesses are all architecting their ecosystems.
That is why Gartner analyst Don Scheibenreif raised a call for action to enterprise architects to be visionary and expand EA from their enterprise to their ecosystem. EA is not just about modeling architectures any more, it has become the common language of collaboration in digital ecosystems.
2.) Leverage Analytics and IoT
Gartner fellow David W. Clearly calls analytics the heart of a platform business. Analytic capabilities are changing rapidly with techniques such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and decision management all challenging traditional assumptions of the way organizations produce and consume analytics. Both IoT and analytics are important drivers behind digital and algorithmic business opportunities. Companies must examine their impacts on business and adjust business models and operational models appropriately—or risk losing competitive advantage to those who do. Enterprise architects are focusing on the design side of business and IT architecture, becoming innovators and supporting the innovation process of analytics and IoT.
Digital business, using a platform and leveraging analytics and IoT, is not going to be delivered using the waterfall methodology for software development —i.e. using large IT teams over several months. Enterprise architects need to have a clear understanding of agile development methodologies and supportive tools. Adopting agile development is not just about changing the way that programmers work — it demands major changes to the IT organization, which typically must be designed and implemented by enterprise architects.
Knowing what we know now, why in so many enterprises is EA still disconnected from business strategic planning—only supporting IT architecture & IT planning? I am convinced, if you aspire to foster a business outcome-driven approach in this digital age, then full EA adoption is a must! Gartner Research VP Marcus Blosch explained that five talents are key for success becoming a modern enterprise architect: business strategist, innovator, designer, orchestrator and navigator. EA is, once again, sexy.