Enterprise Architecture is about CxOs making the enterprise future-proof

Friday, May 1, 2015 | Likes: 0 | Comments: 0

Mark Paauwe

Sales Director

Dragon1 Inc

Enterprise Architecture is about CxOs making the enterprise future proof

Following up on a discussion I had with several lead enterprise architects, in this blog, I am trying to put down in a condensed way what Enterprise Architecture is about and thus why in my opinion Enterprise Architecture is worth the effort to cope with tomorrow’s challenges.

Enterprises like buildings can be viewed as structures

A building can be considered as a multi-system with constructive, operative, and decorative dimensions. This multi-system of a building we call a building structure or structure.

Likewise we can view an enterprise or organization as a structure: An enterprise has also a constructive dimension (formed by the application of concepts like departments and units), operative dimensions (formed by the application of concepts like procurement and production) and decorative dimensions (formed by the application of concepts like image building, media campaign and data-hiding).

The question for CxOs (owners/clients) and architects (designers) is: Is the structure of the enterprise fit for the future? Does it answer to the enterprises' strategy?

Enterprise Architecture is about (re)designing enterprise structures (or parts of them to fit the enterprise strategy: redesigning the governance and business structures, functions/processes, information structures, systems and IT infrastructures, systems and integral business/info/it solutions) and realizing/implementing them.

The architecture of an enterprise structure, like the architecture of a building structure, is the total of applied concepts. For buildings, the building architecture is the total of applied building concepts, for enterprises the enterprise architecture is the total of governance, business, information and IT concepts applied. 

Concepts and their principles play an Important Role

Concepts, the main bricks of architecture, are abstractions of implementations and (specific) ways of working like eCommerce, 360 client view, centralized governance, shared service center, eProcurement, the paperless office, etc… And of course not forgetting the concept principles: the enforced way the concepts work producing results. Because it is the principle of the concept that makes architects propose a concept to CxOs to be part of an architecture (total concept) to the owner/client.

Communicating Concepts using Sketches of Patterns

All the concepts that make up the architecture have to be explained to stakeholders: why are they necessary or why don't they work optimally now? One easy way of doing that is visualizing the high-level concept behind the concept and depicting the pattern of the concept.

For example, a complicated technical concept like the Token Ring Network concept can be explained as easy with a sports picture of the 400m Olympic relay race, showing the pattern (high-level concept) behind a technical concept. By visualizing the principles of concepts (the way they work and produce results) it becomes much easier to communicate and decide upon, with EA you make the enterprise much stronger. Note: Some people think there aren't that many patterns (hundreds) compared to concepts (uncountable).

With EA you strengthen the structure of the enterprise by designing its optimal total concept about its strategy

So here we are: an enterprise architect designs new enterprise structures or parts of it and governs realizing them.

'With that Enterprise Architecture is NOT about solving today's problem TODAY.
Enterprise Architecture is about solving today's problem TODAY' - John Zachman

With Architecture you can make any structure future-proof

Enterprise Architecture IS about strengthening the enterprise to be able to cope with tomorrow's challenges. NOT today’s challenges. Enterprise Architecture is about dealing with What-if scenarios. What if our number of clients increases drastically, what if the economy explodes, what if…

Enterprise Architecture is about making sure that after economic storms, price wars and epidemical technology hype the enterprise is still there, making money and delivering what clients need.

Just like in the beginning men started to design and build building structures to stay erect after disasters and at the same time show wealth and prosperity and serving functions.

Looking at our enterprises today only a very few have an enterprise architecture ensuring the enterprise will overcome disasters, show wealth, and deliver products and services their clients need.

So, as a young field of science, we enterprise architects have still a lot to do. For instance, making our appearance in the boardroom and getting the right architecture design assignments at the right time.

Saying Enterprise Architecture is solving today’s problem "Today" is not helping. It is not true and it is too vague. It does not distinguish Enterprise Architecture from other fields of science.

Saying Enterprise Architecture makes the construction, operations, and decorations of an enterprise much more future-proof (by f.i. design and realization of integral total business and IT concepts), would help.

But only and only say this out loud (in the boardroom), if you are also really a visual enterprise architect being able to deliver this!

Note: Take a look into possible futures on this nice website: www.futureforall.org