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Top 3 Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture (EA) benefits modern organizations in many ways. It provides a holistic, top down view of structure and systems, making it invaluable in managing the complexities of data-driven business.

Once considered solely a function of IT, enterprise architecture has historically operated from an ivory tower. It was often siloed from the business at large, stifling the potential benefits of the holistic view it could have provided.

Now, the growing importance of EA is reflected in its evolving position in the business. Instead of being considered just a function of IT, EA now plays a leading role in bridging the gap between IT and the business.

The practice has evolved in approach, too. In the past, enterprise architecture has played a foundational, support role – largely focused with “keeping the lights on.”

Today its scope is more progressive and business outcome-focused to identify opportunities for growth and change.

As a matter of fact, Gartner has said that EA is becoming a “form of internal management consulting” because it helps define and shape business and operating models, identify risk and opportunities, and create technology roadmaps to suit.

Analyst firm Ovum also recognizes EA’s evolution, referring to today’s EA as AE, or “architect everything,” further demonstrating its newfound scope.

 

Top Three Enterprise Architecture Benefits

Of course, enterprise architecture can’t sit at the strategy table without results. Following are what we believe to be the top three benefits of enterprise architecture:

1. Manage complexity

Modern organizations are a complicated mesh of different systems and applications of varying degrees of importance and prominence.

The top-down, holistic view of an organization provided by enterprise architecture means that organizations are more able to efficiently and confidently assess such assets. For example, impact analysis might identify areas where an organization can streamline its tech stack and cut costs.

It might uncover redundancies where multiple applications address the same process.

Alternatively, impact analysis might find that a seemingly less prominent application is actual integral to operations in circumstances where leadership are considering phasing it out.

In short, enterprise architecture helps business and IT leaders capture, understand and articulate opportunities, challenges and risks – including security.

2. Supporting the creation of actionable, signature-ready EA deliverables

As well as assessing an organization’s current capabilities, the holistic, top-down view provided by enterprise architecture also helps identify gaps.

A better understanding of its enterprise architecture means an organization can make more informed investment decisions. Of course, this means organizations have a better understanding of what they should invest in.

However, it also helps them better understand when, as more pressing concerns can be identified and roadmaps can be created to reflect an organization’s priorities. 

This approach helps an organization meet its current operational demands and opportunities, whilst navigating and mitigating disruptions. It can also ensure it does this in accordance with the longer-term strategic vision of the organization.

3. Increasing agility and speeding time to value

In the era of rapidly evolving technology and rampant – often disruptive – digital transformation, the need for enterprise architecture tools is abundantly clear. Organizations with a healthy understanding of their enterprise architecture are better equipped to evaluate and implement new technology in a timely and efficient manner. 

EA tools accelerate analysis and decision support for alternative investment, rationalization, and optimization opportunities and plans and for assessing risk, change and the impact on the organization.

Maturing Enterprise Architecture

To reap such benefits of this new approach to EA, many organizations will have to work to mature their practices.

To be effective, business outcome-focused enterprise architecture needs to be consistent. It needs to be communicable and discernible. It needs to be up to date and accurate.

For many organizations, these standards have been impossible to meet as their enterprise architectures are burdened by the use of systems that were not built for purpose.

Basic visualization tools, spreadsheets and even word processors have typically played stand-in for dedicated EA solutions. The non-purpose-built systems lacked the industry standards needed to accurately capture and align business and IT elements and how they link together.

Additionally, collaboration was often marred by issues with outdated, and even disparate file versions and types. This being due to business’ lacking the systems necessary to continuously and methodically maintain models, frameworks and concepts as they evolve.

Therefore, a key milestone in maturing a modern enterprise architecture initiative, is developing a single source of truth, consistent across the enterprise. This requires the implementation of a dedicated, centralized and collaborative enterprise architecture tool, be that on-premise, or via the cloud.

Of course, such a tool should cover enterprise architecture’s legacy capabilities and expectations. Those include support for industry standard frameworks and notation, the ability to perform impact analysis and the streamlining of systems and applications.

But to mature the practice, organizations should implement an EA tool with a shared, centralized metadata repository and role-based access.

It should have the ability to share an integrated set of views and information on strategy, business capabilities, applications, information assets, technologies, etc., to help provide stakeholders with a thorough understanding of the enterprise.

Once this milestone has been met, organizations can really begin to enjoy the benefits of enterprise architecture, in the modern, data-driven business context.

If the benefits of enterprise architecture would help your business, and you’d like to be the next erwin EA success story, try erwin’s enterprise architecture and business process modeling software for free.

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Managing Ideation and Innovation with Enterprise Architecture

Organizations largely recognize the need for enterprise architecture tools, yet some still struggle to communicate their value and prioritize such initiatives.

As data-driven business thrives, organizations will have to overcome these challenges because managing IT trends and emerging technologies makes enterprise architecture (EA) increasingly relevant.

“By 2021, 40 percent of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies,” says Marcus Blosch, Vice President Analyst, Gartner.

With technology now vital to every aspect of the business, enterprise architecture tools and EA as a function help generate and evaluate ideas that move the business forward.

Every business has its own (often ad hoc) way of gathering ideas and evaluating them to see how they can be implemented and what it would take to deploy them.

But organizations can use enterprise architecture tools to bridge the gap between ideation and implementation, making more informed choices in the process.

By combining enterprise architecture tools with the EA team’s knowledge in a process for managing ideas and innovation, organizations can be more strategic in their planning.

Emerging technologies is one of the key areas in which such a process benefits an organization. The timely identification of emerging technologies can make or break a business. The more thought that goes into the planning of when and how to use emerging technologies, the better the implementation, which leads to better outcomes and greater ROI.

Gartner emphasize the value of enterprise architecture tools

Enterprise Architecture Tools: The Fabric of Your Organization

At its 2019 Gartner Enterprise Architecture & Technology Innovation Summit, Gartner identified 10 emerging and strategic technology trends that will shape IT in the coming years.

They included trends that utilize intelligence, such as autonomous things and augmented analytics; digital trends like empowered edge and immersive experiences; mesh trends like Blockchain and smart spaces; as well as broad concepts like digital ethics and privacy and quantum computing.

As these trends develop into applications or become part of your organization’s fabric, you need to think about how they can help grow your business in the near and long term. How will your business investigate their use? How will you identify the people who understand how they can be used to drive your business?

Many organizations lack a structured approach for gathering and investigating employee ideas, especially those around emerging technologies. This creates two issues:

1. When employee ideas fall into a black hole where they don’t get feedback, the employees become less engaged.

2. The emerging technology and its implementation are disconnected, which leads to silos or wasted resources.

How Enterprise Architecture Tools Help Communicate the Value of Emerging Technologies

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. When aligned correctly, emerging technologies can be evaluated based on how they meet business needs and what the IT organization must do to support them.

But the only way you can accurately make those determinations is by having visibility into your IT services and the application portfolio. And that’s how enterprise architecture can help communicate the value of emerging technologies in your organization.

erwin EA provides a way to quickly and efficiently understand opportunities offered by new technologies, process improvements and portfolio rationalization and translate them into an actionable strategy for the entire organization.

Take erwin EA for a free spin thanks to our secure, cloud-based trial.

Enterprise Architecture Business Process Trial

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Why EA Needs to Be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Enterprise architecture (EA) isn’t dead, you’re just using it wrong. Part three of erwin’s digital transformation blog series.  

I’ll let you in on a little secret: the rumor of enterprise architecture’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. However, the truth for many of today’s fast-moving businesses is that enterprise architecture fails. But why?

Enterprise architecture is invaluable for internal business intelligence (but is rarely used for real intelligence), governance (but often has a very narrow focus), management insights (but doesn’t typically provide useful insights), and transformation and planning (ok, now we have something!).

In reality, most organizations do not leverage EA teams to their true potential. Instead they rely on consultants, trends, regulations and legislation to drive strategy.

Why does this happen?

Don’t Put Enterprise Architecture in a Corner

EA has remained in its traditional comfort zone of IT. EA is not only about IT …  but yet, EA lives within IT, focuses on IT and therefore loses its business dimension and support.

It remains isolated and is rarely, if ever, involved in:

  • Assessing, planning and running business transformation initiatives
  • Providing real, enterprise-wide insights
  • Producing actionable initiatives

Instead, it focuses on managing “stuff”:

  • Understanding existing “stuff” by gathering exhaustively detailed information
  • Running “stuff”-deployment projects
  • Managing cost “stuff”
  • “Moving to the cloud” (the solution to … everything)

Enterprise Architecture

What Prevents Enterprise Architecture from Being Successful?

There are three main reasons why EA has been pigeon-holed:

  1. Lack of trust in the available information
    • Information is mostly collected, entered and maintained manually
    • Automated data collection and connection is costly and error-prone
    • Identification of issues can be very difficult and time-consuming
  1. Lack of true asset governance and collaboration
    • Enterprise architecture becomes ring-fenced within a department
    • Few stakeholders willing to be actively involved in owning assets and be responsible for them
    • Collaboration on EA is seen as secondary and mostly focused on reports and status updates
  1. Lack of practical insights (insights, analyses and management views)
    • Too small and narrow thinking of what EA can provide
    • The few analyses performed focus on immediate questions, rarely planning and strategy
    • Collaboration on EA is seen as secondary and mostly focused on reports and status updates

Because of this, EA fails to deliver the relevant insights that management needs to make decisions – in a timely manner – and loses its credibility.

But the fact is EA should be, and was designed to be, about actionable insights leading to innovative architecture, not about only managing “stuff!”

Don’t Slow Your Roll. Elevate Your Role.

It’s clear that the role of EA in driving digital transformation needs to be elevated. It needs to be a strategic partner with the business.

According to a McKinsey report on the “Five Enterprise-Architecture Practices That Add Value to Digital Transformations,” EA teams need to:

“Translate architecture issues into terms that senior executives will understand. Enterprise architects can promote closer alignment between business and IT by helping to translate architecture issues for business leaders and managers who aren’t technology savvy. Engaging senior management in discussions about enterprise architecture requires management to dedicate time and actively work on technology topics. It also requires the EA team to explain technology matters in terms that business leaders can relate to.”

With that said, to further change the perception of EA within the organization you need to serve what management needs. To do this, enterprise architects need to develop innovative business, not IT insights, and make them dynamic. Next, enterprise architects need to gather information you can trust and then maintain.

To provide these strategic insights, you don’t need to focus on everything — you need to focus on what management wants you to focus on. The rest is just IT being IT. And, finally, you need to collaborate – like your life depends on it.

Giving Digital Transformation an Enterprise Architecture EDGE

The job of the enterprise architecture is to provide the tools and insights for the C-suite, and other business stakeholders, to help deploy strategies for business transformation.

Let’s say the CEO has a brilliant idea and wants to test it. This is EA’s sweet spot and opportunity to shine. And this is where erwin lives by providing an easy, automated way to deliver collaboration, speed and responsiveness.

erwin is about providing the right information to the right people at the right time. We are focused on empowering the forward-thinking enterprise architect by providing:

  • Superb, near real-time understanding of information
  • Excellent, intuitive collaboration
  • Dynamic, interactive dashboards (vertical and horizontal)
  • Actual, realistic, business-oriented insights
  • Assessment, planning and implementation support

Data-Driven Business Transformation

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Managing Emerging Technology Disruption with Enterprise Architecture

Emerging technology has always played an important role in business transformation. In the race to collect and analyze data, provide superior customer experiences, and manage resources, new technologies always interest IT and business leaders.

KPMG’s The Changing Landscape of Disruptive Technologies found that today’s businesses are showing the most interest in emerging technology like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Other emerging technologies that are making headlines include natural language processing (NLP) and blockchain.

In many cases, emerging technologies such as these are not fully embedded into business environments. Before they enter production, organizations need to test and pilot their projects to help answer some important questions:

  • How do these technologies disrupt?
  • How do they provide value?

Enterprise Architecture’s Role in Managing Emerging Technology

Pilot projects that take a small number of incremental steps, with small funding increases along the way, help provide answers to these questions. If the pilot proves successful, it’s then up to the enterprise architecture team to explore what it takes to integrate these technologies into the IT environment.

This is the point where new technologies go from “emerging technologies” to becoming another solution in the stack the organization relies on to create the business outcomes it’s seeking.

One of the easiest, quickest ways to try to pilot and put new technologies into production is to use cloud-based services. All of the major public cloud platform providers have AI and machine learning capabilities.

Integrating new technologies based in the cloud will change the way the enterprise architecture team models the IT environment, but that’s actually a good thing.

Modeling can help organizations understand the complex integrations that bring cloud services into the organization, and help them better understand the service level agreements (SLAs), security requirements and contracts with cloud partners.

When done right, enterprise architecture modeling also will help the organization better understand the value of emerging technology and even cloud migrations that increasingly accompany them. Once again, modeling helps answer important questions, such as:

  • Does the model demonstrate the benefits that the business expects from the cloud?
  • Do the benefits remain even if some legacy apps and infrastructure need to remain on premise?
  • What type of savings do you see if you can’t consolidate enough close an entire data center?
  • How does the risk change?

Many of the emerging technologies garnering attention today are on their way to becoming a standard part of the technology stack. But just as the web came before mobility, and mobility came before AI,  other technologies will soon follow in their footsteps.

To most efficiently evaluate these technologies and decide if they are right for the business, organizations need to provide visibility to both their enterprise architecture and business process teams so everyone understands how their environment and outcomes will change.

When the enterprise architecture and business process teams use a common platform and model the same data, their results will be more accurate and their collaboration seamless. This will cut significant time off the process of piloting, deploying and seeing results.

Outcomes like more profitable products and better customer experiences are the ultimate business goals. Getting there first is important, but only if everything runs smoothly on the customer side. The disruption of new technologies should take place behind the scenes, after all.

And that’s where investing in pilot programs and enterprise architecture modeling demonstrate value as you put emerging technology to work.

Emerging technology - Data-driven business transformation