Organizations are seeking to modernize their data centers to meet their digital transformation objectives. They’re adopting more cloud services to gain greater agility and better support remote work models. They’re also pushing IT services out to the network edge to reduce latency and enable real-time data analytics.
While these initiatives can deliver tremendous business value and help organizations thrive amid disruptive events, they create a highly distributed and complex IT environment. IT leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to align technology investments with business objectives. It’s also more difficult to manage the costs of growing application portfolios and cloud services.
These challenges have brought renewed emphasis on the enterprise architecture (EA) model. Gartner defines EA as “a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes.” EA is about more than just IT — it helps an organization meet its business objectives by establishing a framework for its structure and operation.
But because IT forms the foundation of business processes, it is typically at the center of EA strategies. EA helps organizations define policies and structure IT initiatives to achieve desired business results. The goal is to improve efficiency, productivity and decision-making while extracting as much value as possible from organizational data.
The EA Model
The EA concept isn’t new. In the 1960s, Professor Dewey Walker developed several documents on Business Systems Planning, and one of his students used them to create a more formal structure. Both worked for IBM, and the framework was first published in the IBM Systems Journal in 1987.
The organizations that adopted EA more than 30 years ago were seeking to overcome two key problems. First, IT complexity and costs were becoming unsustainable. Second, organizations were struggling to align IT investments with business needs and objectives.
These concerns of the 1980s were prescient, as the evolution of technology has accelerated more quickly than most predicted. Today’s IT leaders are under heightened pressure to not only operate more efficiently but deliver valuable business services that improve agility, innovation and competitive advantages. They must also keep a lid on costs, which can quickly spiral out of control without effective oversight and management.
EA is designed to create a comprehensive view of IT systems, applications and services across the organization so business and IT leaders can better understand what value these assets provide and how they work together. This better enables organizations to determine which processes can be integrated or eliminated and which could be enhanced through the application of technology. An effective EA strategy helps to control costs through rationalization of the IT portfolio while also staying abreast of technology advances.
Despite their importance, many EA initiatives fail, often from lack of support from senior management. In some cases, the people leading EA programs are technical experts who lack the insight to communicate the business value of technology. Senior managers don’t understand the complexity of IT, and IT often makes it all about technology instead of achieving business outcomes. When a disconnect exists between IT and the C-suite, it causes confusion, conflict and distrust.
Having an outside perspective can help EA programs succeed. An outside consultant combines technical expertise with the ability to connect technology with business goals. This is critical to winning the backing of senior management.
The consultants at SirviS can objectively assess business processes and explain how various systems affect each other. We can help organizations develop an EA framework that supports and measures business outcomes, eliminates redundancy and improves efficiency.