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Enterprise Architecture Vs Business Architecture

Posted by Neil Sheppard on August 7, 2023

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Enterprise architecture vs business architecture: get the lowdown on how these two disciplines relate. Let's explore the history and future of the intertwined methodologies.

'Enterprise architecture' and 'business architecture' are two terms that are often used interchangeably. Yet, each has an in-depth history and a specific realm to deal with.

The confusion comes from the two disciplines being intertwined, and both are essential for ensuring the continued agility and efficiency of your organization. Not to mention, each requires accurate information and the easy visualization of that data.

That's why we created the LeanIX EAM as a tool to provide exactly the information you need. To find out more, see our product page:

LEANIX EAM: Manage the transformation and risk of your IT landscape

In the meantime, let's look back at the history of enterprise and business architecture, as well as how the two work in harmony to support your efforts in the modern market.

What Is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise architecture is all about aligning your organization's data and software with its business strategy. This usually means streamlining your application portfolio and data flow to optimum efficiency at the lowest cost.

Many see it as a recent trend, but the term actually dates back to a 1989 National Institute of Standards (NIST) special publication, Information Management Directions: The Integration Challenge, nearly a decade before the internet zeitgeist began. Yet, what was once about optimizing the use of telecoms and physical servers, is now about cloud capabilities and software-as-a-service (SaaS) contract management.

From just a term for optimization, the discipline of enterprise architecture has now grown to cover an expansive framework of responsibilities that all need to be juggled to maintain efficiency. To visualize this, we created a diagram illustrating all the aspects of the enterprise architecture framework:

Enterprise architects create a holistic overview of an organization's operations, including:

  • IT infrastructure
  • The application landscape
  • User groups and access rights
  • Business capability maps
  • Current projects and initiatives
  • Application contracts and procurement
  • Databases and datasets
  • Process and workflow maps
  • Application interfaces
  • Business strategy

It's easy to see why the role of enterprise architect can be challenging without leveraging automation and data-gathering tools to help ensure data quality and visualize all this information. That's why enterprise architects use LeanIX EAM to capture every relevant facet of their organization.

To find out more, take a look at an overview of the LeanIX EAM's capabilities:

LEANIX EAM: Manage The Transformation And Risk Of Your IT Landscape

What Is Business Architecture?

Business architecture is a way of looking holistically at your organization to ensure optimization and maintain a direct line from business strategy to execution. It's essential for maintaining agility, efficiency, and competitive advantage in the modern market.

Business architecture seeks to optimize the interactions between your organization's:

  • stakeholders
  • mission statement
  • strategy
  • capabilities
  • policies
  • regulatory compliance
  • value streams
  • information
  • products
  • services
  • key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • initiatives and projects
  • etc

An example of a business architecture initiative might be to recommend the creation of a new business unit to enable a new business capability required to support a change in strategy. So, a business architect might have recommended the creation of an ecommerce team to support the operation of online retail while stores were closed during COVID.

Counter-intuitively, business architecture is both a subcategory of enterprise architecture and also a bit older. One of the first mentions of the concept was in a 1986 article, Developing Strategies For Management Information Systems by Edwin E Tozer.

At the time, business architecture was talked about separately from:

  • data architecture: the storage of business information
  • communication architecture: the toolset a business uses to pass that information around

This changed only a short time later, as the aforementioned NIST publication combined the three concepts to form the first formulation of enterprise architecture. Yet, business architecture still forms an important part of the new methodology.

Business Architecture Vs Enterprise Architecture Today

Business architecture remains an important part of enterprise architecture. Since enterprise architecture seeks to align technology to the business, business architecture remains entangled with it.

As the NIST article mentioned above first proposed, enterprise architecture is the alignment of:

  • data architecture
  • communication architecture
  • business architecture

Of course, things have evolved since then. Data and communication architecture have since been replaced by cloud-native software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that can manage both streams and support business capabilities at the same time.

Likewise, the concept of 'digital enterprise' is no longer distinct from any other type of enterprise. Everything we do, from Zoom meetings to artificial intelligence-assisted logistics, is digital.

This brings the three streams of enterprise architecture (EA) even closer into alignment and makes EA even more important. Yet, the principle remains the same:

EA is about synergizing business data, communication, and architecture.

Aligning your business architecture is, therefore, essential before you can optimize your enterprise architecture. This means business architects and enterprise architects must work together to keep their organizations agile and effective.

Take, for example, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) transformation. Getting the most out of your new ERP system requires the thorough alignment of the logistics and business organizations that ERP must support. Creating that alignment falls naturally to business architects in collaboration with enterprise architects.

Ultimately, there is no "vs" between business and enterprise architecture, as the two need to work together for your organization to thrive. Even so, they will need the right toolset.

The LeanIX EAM For Enterprise Architecture

EAM Demo

The LeanIX EAM is designed to collect information about your application portfolio, map it to your business capabilities, and visualize the data at different levels of detail for different stakeholders. This information is therefore important for enterprise architects, business architects, and for both to collaborate effectively.

By collecting information from application programming interfaces (APIs) and automated surveys, the LeanIX EAM can create a true picture of your enterprise architecture. This includes what tools business units are using, and how their work maps to business capabilities.

To find out more, see our product page:

LEANIX EAM: Manage The Transformation And Risk Of Your IT Landscape

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