Enterprise Architecture’s New Clothes

A Changing Role for EA in Application Modernization

By Andrew Doble, Global Product Manager Digital Transformation, CSC

Danny Weinberger, Lead Enterprise Architect Central Europe, CSC

MonitorsDigital as a trend is continuing its inexorable march into the enterprise, a fact that has not escaped the attention of many CIOs. According to the latest CSC CIO survey, a large proportion of CIOs is investing in new technologies to drive business innovation forward in their organizations.

However, in working with our clients, we are finding that the issue of using new technologies is only part of the story. To become truly digital organizations and fully exploit new technologies and outside-in forces, they also have to change how their IT organization is organized, including IT’s (increasingly blurring) relationship with the rest of the organization.

One group that is heavily affected by any digital transformation is the enterprise architect (EA) group. Although this group is often in a unique position to push any digital agenda, spanning as it does business and IT silos, it itself needs to rethink its role in a digital future.

But how does the EA group need to change? Let’s look at some of these in more detail.

Rethink mapping and reporting. One of the classic activities of an EA group is to catalogue the relationships between existing processes, application and infrastructure. These maps allow “what if” scenarios to be analyzed leading to reduced risk and better predictability when making changes. However, in a digital landscape the traditional “entities” of such a mapping (processes, applications and infrastructure) start to make little sense. Instead these are replaced with small-grained mobile apps, (micro)services, APIs, business processes that extend across enterprise boundaries as well as infrastructure and software that are rented from external cloud providers “as a service.” This means that EA groups have to rethink how they will capture this information and also how to analyze it and act upon the results.

Embrace outside-in. Typically, EA functions in the past have accepted the mantra of “business drives IT decisions.” However, the continual pressure from outside-in forces and the disruptive potential of new technologies will mean that EA – in its unique position of bridging business and IT – will have to become proactive in saying how technology can improve business. This can be in the areas of incremental improvement or even in identifying new business models. As such, EA will need to become more outward-looking and consequently more business-oriented and end-customer focused. In addition, they will have to redefine the central enterprise architecture to take advantage of new technologies and techniques as well as deciding between what should be delivered as-a-service from external providers and all that implies. This involves not only defining technical measures and standards, but also organization, processes and governance.

Look across boundaries. Gaining advantage from digital often means going across boundaries. These could be the boundaries between business silos or even the boundaries that an enterprise traditionally considers itself to have. Digital processes are both focused on value chains and are automated. They use the resources, be they information or capabilities, from different business units to achieve business goals. Using open APIs, internal business processes can collaborate with processes used by other enterprises. Again, EA groups need to be aware of and plan for what is happening – and can potentially happen – outside their usual, internally focused, remits.

Focus on the customer. A major part of any digital initiative is to improve the focus on the customer. Traditionally, EA functions have been concerned with internal processes. However, this sea change in focus means that EA needs to start looking at how the customer interacts with the enterprise. It needs to identify how this can be improved though new technology, automation or process reengineering and also through using new techniques such as customer journey modeling and design thinking approaches.

In conclusion, Digital is not just something that EA needs to advise business on. It is something that demands somewhat significant changes in how an EA group itself functions.


  1. Reblogged this on SutoCom Solutions.


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