erwin Expert Blog Enterprise Architecture

How Does a Vanguard Enterprise Architect Manage Innovation?

We should move away from the ‘burden of innovation’ expression. Innovation is born of free thought, expression and creativity, and to label such a notion a ‘burden’ has always seemed a bizarre turn of phrase.

Of course, some people are naturally better at innovation than others, and those that struggle with the discipline may feel burdened with pressure if you demand innovation from them. But it’s unlikely that either employees or business leaders will feel oppressed by the notion that their good ideas will have a positive impact on the business.

Gartner: “By 2016, 30% of global organizations will establish a clear role distinction between Foundational and Vanguard Enterprise Architects.”

It’s for these reasons why Enterprise Architecture going forward, needs to adopt the Vanguard Enterprise Architect.

An innovation driver, the Vanguard enterprise architect deals with technology disruptions and enterprise connectivity; as opposed to the Foundational Enterprise Architect, who maintains enterprise technology and the systems of record.

Gone are the days whereby innovation is managed by a small group (i.e  a Research and Development team). We now welcome an era of collaboration, enabled by the speed and quality of communication the Internet can offer, and further enhanced by the Cloud.

With digital business, innovation should (and will) permeate every aspect of business – Enterprise Architecture included. In fact, Enterprise Architecture will arguably be the most imbued business department, due to their governance over steering innovation for the business as a whole.

EA’s will have to manage the current state of the business, but now the non-linear tasks attributed to digital business are also a duty. These are two very different responsibilities and therefore, not only warrant, but demand two clearly defined and distinguished roles.

Bimodal IT

Bimodal IT is a business mantra whereby an organization fundamentally acknowledges the separation between new and old IT. The reason for its inception, is the maturing role of IT within organizations. Over time, we can see that IT has evolved, indicating it’s taken on new responsibilities, but hasn’t shed the old ones.

It’s become more capable and more essential, and so the tasks IT departments have to carry out have grown, rather than changed. Bimodal is a method of acknowledging this evolution, and effectively coping with it.  This is why colloquially, bimodal IT has been summarized as having your cake (old IT) and eating it too (new).

It accounts for two ‘modes’. Mode 1 being the more traditional, responsible for “keeping the lights on” – the cost savings, efficiency improving, core tasks we’re used to from IT.

Mode 2 on the other hand, is responsible for ‘new IT’ tasks, like innovation and businesses more disruptive factors. Sound familiar?

That’s because bimodal IT is closely aligned with the idea of a Vanguard EA. In fact, for either to work at their full potential, both should be employed in tandem.

The separation between the two modes and the two roles shouldn’t get in the way though. With well actioned collaboration, organizations can ensure their processes are carried out in the open for the relevant parties.

If teams behind both modes, and Enterprise Architects occupying either role (Foundational or Vanguard) are aware of what one another are doing and even share resources in order to help one another, the system becomes frictionless. This effectively blurs the antithetic nature of the disciplines as in the end, everybody is still working towards bettering the business and it’s operations.

Bimodal Mode 1 and 2

The above shows the differences between the two modes. Most prominent perhaps, is the increased IT agility awarded by Mode 2. In an ever changing field such as digital business, agility should be a priority for any organization.

Benefits of Enterprise Architecture Tools in Bimodal IT

A good Enterprise Architecture tool (or digital business platform) can aid the alignment of the two modes. You’ll be able to clearly identify the different assets associated with the modes, as well as facilitate improved communication between the relevant parties.

The benefits don’t end here though.

With an efficient, agile EA tool, planning can becoming more accurate and reliable through the well applied use of roadmaps; you’ll be better equipped to understand the impact and costs of change; business and IT assets can be standardized so everyone is always on the same page – facilitating better communication; the traceability of objectives to projects will be improved, increasing visibility; and with all this in mind, collaboration between individuals and teams will benefit too. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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