Today, it’s all about business transformation and the urge to make it happen. Transformations are necessary to keep pace with the ever-changing times and meet new requirements and challenges.
The foundation for managing such change processes lies in Enterprise Architecture. EA represents the structure and connections inside your company. It forms the basis for your strategic business planning and the development of the supporting information technology.
In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about EA and how it can help you keep up with the constantly evolving business requirements.
What is business transformation? And how is it related to EA?
Simply put, business transformation is a process of advancing from an organization’s vision to a concrete strategy. To deliver this change successfully, there is a need for a structured approach that
- creates a single source of truth: the big picture that describes what your organization will be like in several years
- provides direction: i.e., clarifies the right path of change to ensure that all stakeholders move forward jointly
- aligns business and IT departments: It inspires everyone to act in a certain direction
And all of this is enabled by Enterprise Architecture. EA helps businesses embrace transformation by holistically covering all levels of change: from strategy and business levels to the application, data and technology layers of the organization.
Through EA, you are aware of your company’s entire architecture ecosystem at any given point in time:
- What capabilities does your organization have or want? Are they threatened in any way?
- How are these capabilities realized? By which business actors? Through which system software/application components? Should they be updated?
- What happens to the data that has been collected over time? How can you use this data to your advantage?
- And most importantly – how are these questions connected?
Essentially, what we like to say is that Enterprise Architecture helps you create a digital twin of your organization.
Components of a company’s ecosystem
What is Enterprise Architecture (EA)?
Enterprise architecture focuses simultaneously on business and IT components and creates an overview of the current state of an organization. This means that all available resources such as applications, data, business objects, etc. and the relationships between them are mapped to create a view for all stakeholders involved. This way, the executives involved are well-informed and able to identify the direction of changes that need to be made in order to make the right business transformations to achieve the desired business visions and outcomes. This may include a better customer experience, sustainable business models or simply a restructured application landscape.
In a nutshell: it’s about creating a vision for the company and managing the changes necessary to realize that vision. This takes into account not only the company itself, but also the ecosystem in which the company is embedded. The description of the target architecture helps to understand how the company needs to develop in order to achieve its strategic objectives.
To achieve these goals, companies must first identify their critical business drivers. Then they need to consider how to respond to these drivers and how to translate these actions into blueprints – the so-called enterprise architecture designs.
What are the benefits of Enterprise Architecture?
If you use Enterprise Architecture, you can benefit from the following advantages:
- Convenient change in business model
EA supports the transition to new business models or the transformation of existing business models. It helps to combine people, processes, information and technology into organizational capabilities.
- Aligning business resources and IT investments with business strategy
EA supports organizations to invest in the right initiatives and ensures that the right resources are available.
- Building organizational resilience
At its core, it is all about business agility. Enterprise Architecture helps organizations to respond effectively to changing markets and customer environments and defining organizational structures and IT platforms that enable this flexibility.
- Innovation management
EA helps strategy and leadership teams discover and evaluate innovation opportunities across all levels of the organization.
EA is at the heart of any business transformation and can thus drive your organization’s Environmental-Social-Governance (ESG) initiatives.
- Reducing IT complexity
Complex systems that are difficult to manage slow down the needed digital transformation. EA reduces system complexity by identifying and decommissioning IT services that are not contributing to the organization’s goals.
- Reducing technological risk and increasing security
EA provides insights into the interdependencies between business and IT to take action against cybersecurity breaches.
- Reducing IT costs by eliminating redundancies and breaking down organizational silos
EA helps to address cost pressures by identifying savings opportunities.
- … and many more
However, before pursuing one or more of these goals, it is important to consider what business objectives the EA will serve and how success will be measured.
What is the focus of successful EA?
Now that we have discussed how EA can support business transformations, let’s move on to the question of what a successful business transformation actually means and what criteria we can use to validate it.
In essence, it’s about building future-proof organizations. If you ask us, a future-proof organization must be:
Companies must deal with changing customer expectations and increased competition in the marketplace. Customer value propositions and thus customer-facing capabilities must be constantly rethought.
Adaptiveness is about the reconfiguration of core business structures and capabilities to meet changing market requirements. This includes resilience mechanisms that make it possible to react to dramatic influences such as the COVID pandemic, climate change and wars.
The UN Brundtland Commission defines sustainability as “the development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” From a business perspective this means: demand from customers, pressure from legislators and investors, expectation of employees and new talents (to only name a few).
Focus of future-proof organizations
EA put into practice
As we have learned, EA is all about defining new business visions and the path towards realizing them. But how does this work in practice?
In the context of strategy management, tools such as strategy maps and business model canvases can support in planning and communicating the business objectives of your organization.
To put the strategy into execution, businesses need to organize their resources – people, process, information and technologies – into a composable set of capabilities. These are usually documented in the form of a capability map.
To provide an overview of the available and required resources, portfolios such as process portfolio, application portfolio, data portfolio and technology portfolio need to be in place.
One or more capabilities are described in operating models. Here, organizations define how the elements of the portfolio are connected to realize the said capabilities.
By analysing capability maturity, data quality, and technology fitness, strategic gaps are identified and roadmaps for implementation and transformation are specified to close these gaps.
Use ArchiMate to map your EA
You may be wondering how you can actually map your artifacts to create (model) what we call a digital twin of your organization and enable everything we just discussed? Don’t worry, there is already a convenient way to do this. Let us introduce you to ArchiMate.
Artifacts are mapped to create a digital twin of your organization
ArchiMate is a modelling language for documenting and planning enterprise architectures and can be used as a common denominator. The language is very comprehensive and contains all the necessary elements. First, select only the parts that are relevant to you. All other parts can remain hidden. Make sure that you start your initiatives on a smaller scale. Lengthy discussions can be avoided this way.
User-Centric Services call for participation
EA can serve many initiatives and therefore many stakeholders in your organization. However, no matter how convenient and simple EA can be, we cannot expect everyone to be familiar with every aspect of EA, nor with the modeling languages that are used to implement it.
Therefore, EA leaders need to understand their deliverables as different services. Services with a clear focus, aimed at users with a specific need. If stakeholders do not perceive EA services as effective and easy to use or understand, they will not see value in using them, and your initiatives will not be as successful in the long run.
Therefore, there is a need for an EA service catalogue which would cover all stakeholders’ interests. Examples of such services include:
- Strategic Roadmapping
- Application Investment Planning
- Sustainability Roadmaps
- Capability Assessment
- Architecture Scenario Planning
- Architecture Security Assessment
But remember – each of these services must come with a clearly defined value proposition. Tools such as our industry-acclaimed EA suite ADOIT can help with defining the EA service catalogue with no need for you to have relevant expertise. Yes, you read that right – ADOIT is not only suitable for EA experts, but also for absolute beginners and thus covers the entire organization. Everyone benefits!
EA is a key asset for any business in this day and age. It’s simply about documenting the core elements of your organization and making the most out of your available resources. It’s the only way you’ll be able to execute successful business transformations and keep pace with the ever-changing demands of the modern era. Not convinced yet? Start with user-centric services that require no prior experience. They can serve as a bridge between deciding to embark on your own EA journey and creating your company’s digital twin.
If we have sparked your interest on this topic be sure to browse our related free resources below to learn more about EA and everything it has to offer.
If you are interested in starting your EA practice straight away, create a free ADOIT:Community Edition Account and try it out for yourself!