Modern Enterprise architecture - change your focus!

12 August 2015

In the early days of Enterprise Architecture, the focus was merely on frameworks and methodologies. Later on, the discussion changed more to processes. To really have a high impact, it is my conviction that Enterprise Architecture should focus on business value.

How do we as enterprise architects contribute to the value creation of our enterprise? Here are some important mind-shifts that need to happen if we want to impact value creation using Enterprise Architecture.

1. Business driven EA

I still see a lot of Enterprise Architecture that is IT focused. How on earth can we influence value creation if we don't start from the business perspective when shaping enterprises? Making the link between an evolving (disruptive?) business model and the ecosystem of the company is a prerequisite to think about business value.

Even when your focus is on technology, you need to have an in-depth understanding of the business to know how to create real value from technology.

2. The investor perspective of EA

In a lot of Enterprise Architecture efforts, I see a focus on realizing “new” solutions starting from promises made by tool vendors or technology to enable new functionality. Implementing new solutions is nice, but the more difficult question is how these solutions will generate more business value for the company. Maybe the same value can be generated from existing solutions; by collaborating with external partners or by rearranging business processes. These are only a few other implementation suggestions. The idea here is to think more as an investor than as an implementer.

If it would be your own money, would you be ready to invest in it?

3. Actionable EA

Enterprise Architecture is typically associated with long lasting efforts coupled with heavy investments, building global city maps and multi-year roadmaps. I think there is a different way of doing Enterprise Architecture.

Focusing on actionable advice, delivering concrete recommendations resulting in immediate value.

4. EA for guiding transformation

Too often Enterprise Architecture is driven by the need to standardize solutions and avoiding to reinvent the wheel over and over again. While this still remains a very valuable objective of EA, there is another goal for EA. What structures and processes do we need to flourish in the world of tomorrow?

The goal is not only to standardize structures, but also to transform structures to make them ready for the future.

From a mostly cost-oriented perspective to a more value-oriented perspective. A modern EA can as such become a guide in the transformation process of the company.

5. Outside in EA

A lot of energy of EA is focused on what I call here for simplicity an inside out approach to EA. What internal structures do we need to run our company? Today, a company does not stand on its own anymore, it is connected. Every modern company looks at the broader ecosystem in which it participates. Understanding customers, understanding market trends and reflecting on how to remain relevant becomes an important focus of enterprise leaders.

So the mindshift for enterprise architects is not only to design internal structures but also to influence the external shape of the company in the market. And to engage in these discussions with business stakeholders.

I hope these reflections can stimulate your thoughts on Enterprise Architecture. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts with us.

Johan Merckx

Written by Johan Merckx

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