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Big Data: Using agile Enterprise Architecture to tame the data deluge

Posted by Ruth Reinicke

big data.jpg„We are drowning in information and starved for knowledge.“

 The volume of data available to organizations is growing exponentially; the flood of data from the internet, sensors and images holds great opportunities for the business. At the same time the greatest challenge remains to derive valuable business information from the data flows. Only 29% of architects believe that their organizations are good at connecting analytics results to business outcome, according to Forrester.

Big Data is not just an IT issue

Even though Big Data is only possible through technology, as a trend it transcends traditional organizational barriers. The Enterprise Architects of today are no longer concerned with only the technical side. „Big data is one of those technologies that is much closer to the business side. It’s a whole new area that [Enterprise Architects] need to master,“ says Ron Tolido from Capgemini.

Enterprise Architects need to not only keep the IT in focus but the entire business. To make Big Data successful their role has to change from a pure technology planner to strategic partner for business technology. At the same time, they should always aim to develop a strategy that creates value from Big Data. By finding ways to use data stores more efficiently to achieve business goals Enterprise Architects can make sure that the business case remains clearly visible.

Tolido adds that the EA approach should not be to design large, all-encompassing architectures that cover the entire data landscape. Instead they should understand what the real business needs of the organization are.

Success with agility

In the past, Enterprise Architects could spend a lot of time modelling and perfecting data projects. In the age of Big Data, however, nearly real-time reactions to highly variable information is needed. Business cycles used to be slower but in times of digital disruption and constantly changing markets the business demands more speed from Enterprise Architecture. Consequently, Enterprise Architects have to focus on more light-weight, agile approaches. Those Enterprise Architects that are open to changes and work directly with stakeholders in the business will generate true value for their companies, says Jason Bloomberg from Forbes. Business transformation through technology needs a more agile approach for architecture than the traditional Enterprise Architecture of the past.

If company culture suffers from a lack of shared information and data silos, Big Data initiatives will often shed light on this and it impacts on their success. Enterprise Architects can contribute to the overcoming of silo culture and sharing data across teams. A collaborative approach as supported by LeanIX promotes the collaboration in Big Data projects across business units.

Dave Newman from Gartner states that in the age of Big Data the task of the Enterprise Architect is clear: Design business outcomes that exploit big data opportunities inside and outside the organization.