Enterprise architecture has been eulogized by a few pundits in recent months, as they address fears it's falling out of fashion. EA, however, is very much alive, and enterprise architects simply need the right tools for the task.
Enterprise architecture has long been seen as an essential discipline for bridging the gap between IT and the rest of your business. Once an innovative and novel concept – approaching the interconnection of enterprise technology with the rigor and foresight of an architect – EA eventually became a standard practice in organizations of a certain size.
As the novelty wore off and the practice of enterprise architecture, at least in some organizations, began to see too abstract and academic, some pundits began to suggest that enterprise architecture was "dead." As a result, calls were made to rebrand the designing of optimal relations between IT and business strategy as 'digital transformation' or 'performance engineering'. As Deloitte Enterprise Architect, Gideon Slifkin said:
“I don’t think [enterprise architecture is] dead, but I do think it has challenges … I think it's extremely important and will remain so. Maybe there'll be a different name - Advice, Effectiveness, Digital Transformation - everybody's coming up with cool new names. But I think the core, beating heart of EA as it were, is essential, no matter what you call it.”
At LeanIX, however, we don't think enterprise architecture is in need of a rebrand so much as a re-imagining. It's time for the 35-year-old concept of enterprise architecture to undergo a transformation of its.
It was this thinking that led us to create LeanIX EAM in the first place. We believed that the discipline needed a tool that was easy to use, invited collaboration, and focused on delivering business impact. To find out more, see our product page:
In the meantime, let's look at the history and future of enterprise architecture.
What Is Enterprise Architecture?
Enterprise architecture is the discipline of aligning information technology (IT) tools, as well as data management and distribution systems, with your business strategy and goals. This often involves managing an organization's application portfolio to ensure it aligns to the business capabilities required for the company to thrive.
Essentially, enterprise architects work to bring alignment among your organization's:
- business strategy
The term was first coined in 1989 in a National Institute of Standards (NIST) special publication, Information Management Directions: The Integration Challenge. The initial definition was the process of distributing information throughout all the levels of an organization.
This combined with a 1987 paper on information systems architecture by John Zachman to form a united call for a strategic planning methodology for the distribution of information and data. Naturally, as IT expanded into the world of the internet and cloud technology, enterprise architects began taking the lead in digital transformation.
Of course, 70% of digital transformations fail, according to an infamous BCG report. As a result, many now realize that a one-and-done approach to digital transformation simply does not work. Instead, organizations find they are better able to achieve their goals when they cultivate a culture of continuous transformation.
An approach to enterprise architecture practice focused on enforcing technological rules or generating rigid diagrams disconnected from business strategy does not align with the reality of continuous transformation. That being said, an approach emphasizing the value of providing the organization with reliable data on the state of the IT landscape and allowing for its ongoing evolution is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Is Enterprise Architecture Dead?
You can't transform what you don't understand. Insight into the reality of your current IT landscape – from what you have to how it is all connected – is the essential starting point of any successful change initiative. Enterprise architects, at their best, are the stewards of this insight.
To turn this stewardship into a culture of continuous transformation, enterprise architects need the right toolset. Given the right tools, enterprise architects can create that culture by aligning:
- business strategy
The key to this alignment is a steady flow of current, accurate information. This is what the LeanIX EAM offers.
We make it easy for you to pull application data into LeanIX EAM. But in addition to supporting a wide variety of methods for these imports we also enable two other important capabilities. First, by integrating with a number of other enterprise solutions, we allow you to discover SaaS applications that may have been bought outside traditional IT channels (the dreaded 'shadow IT' that we prefer to call 'business-led IT.')
More importantly, because we don't price our solution based on user seats, anyone within your organization can access the tool. In this way, relevant stakeholders can ensure that data is accurate and up-to-date. At the same time, they can themselves gain a deeper understanding of how they tech they use relates to and interacts with the tech others use.
On top of all this information, LeanIX EAM also allows for fast reporting and visualizations so that enterprise architects can effectively communicate with business owners across the organization as well as the C-Suite.
Finally, to envision and keep track of your ongoing transformation, you can use the tool to model your target state and create roadmaps from where you are to where you want to be.
Armed with LeanIX EAM, enterprise architects can manage their work and meet the challenges faced by organizations today. To find out more about how the LeanIX EAM can help you drive and manage continuous transformation, take our tour:
TAKE A TOUR: Application Rationalization
What Are The Benefits Of Enterprise Architecture?
Far from being dead, a living, breathing enterprise architecture can offer modern digital organizations a host of benefits when powered by LeanIX EAM:
Whether it's through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or simply organic growth over time, it's far too easy for your application portfolio to turn into a tangled mess of duplicate software contracts. Enterprise architects can streamline your software spend to optimum levels by gaining an oversight of your application portfolio and returning it to simplicity.
Affirmed Application Rationalization
Enterprise architecture isn't just about keeping costs low, but increasing the value you get from your investment into software tools. This involves both upgrading outdated software to best-of-breed tools and simplifying your software estate to make it more effective.
Best-of-breed tools arranged in an accessible and intuitive manner empower your team to do their best work without blockers or downtime. Enterprise architecture allows you to get the most out of your people, as well as your software.
Taking advantage of the opportunities of modern enterprise technology requires an optimized and updated software landscape. Aging, on-premise servers and legacy software platforms will prevent you from leveraging cloud technology, ecommerce opportunities, and artificial intelligence.
Silos and a lack of alignment between your teams costs money. Enterprise architecture enhances collaboration tools, aligns your architecture with business strategy, and prepares your organization to change course as needed like a migrating flock of birds working in tandem.
Enterprise Architecture Lives
Enterprise architecture is not dead. It's as essential today for successful organizations as it's ever been.
Yet, enterprise architects need flexible, business-friendly tools to deal with ever-growing tech stacks and application portfolios. That's where LeanIX EAM comes in.
As Krzysztof Kwiatek, Enterprise Architect at Reckitt explained:
"LeanIX is our collaborative platform where different departments work together to build the full EA picture, better understand our business capabilities, or get information about IT systems to mitigate risks. LeanIX is now our gateway for knowledge."
If you're ready to arm your enterprise architects for the modern market, book a demo: