Enterprise architecture management (EAM) is about so much more than tidying up your IT portfolio. Dominik Söhnle, Senior Consultant at LeanIX, recently presented a webinar on whether enterprise architecture should remain part of your IT department or join the wider business as an EAM-as-a-Service (EaaS) offering.
LeanIX Senior Consultant, Dominik Söhnle, recently conducted a survey of 183 enterprise architects, Chief Experience Officers (CXOs), and IT managers across Europe, America, and Asia Pacific. Of those surveyed, 78% say their enterprise architects (EA) fall under their IT department, but 70% would like to see EA grow beyond the bounds of IT.
In our recent webinar, Is the future of Enterprise Architecture Management in IT or Business, LeanIX Senior Consultant Dominik Söhnle repeated the survey with attendees. He found the results confirmed when only 20% saw enterprise architecture as sitting under IT in the future.
So, what is going on? Why are IT experts asking 'what is enterprise architecture?' and debating whether EA belongs under IT?
What Is Enterprise Architecture, Really?
The future of enterprise architecture management (EAM) is reaching a precipice. As cutting costs and 'doing more with less' becomes the priority for many businesses, process efficiency is far more than a nice-to-have.
Yet, in this modern age, what business processes can exist without technology?
- Offices are secured by RFID passes
- Employees work remotely using collaboration tools
- Customer contacts are stored on databases
- We reach out to them by email, social media, and online advertising
Business can no longer exist without technology, so one could say that business has become technology. That means that optimizing the efficiency of your enterprise architecture framework improves processes across your business.
This isn't a one-and-done transformation, however. The COVID-19 lockdown has shown us that things don't just change, but they keep changing and will continue to do so.
We have rapidly changed from on-site work, to remote work via video conferencing, and back to hybrid work in just a few years. This is just one indication of the way that business can adapt to keep pace with current events, driven by technology that changes with it.
We see this as a continuous transformation of enterprise technology, just as the world around us continues to change the face of enterprise. Thought of in this way, we realize that enterprise architecture management has a much larger scope than just as a function of IT.
Does that, however, mean enterprise architecture should sit within corporate strategy, rather than only within IT? Or, should it be its own function?
Who Cares Where Enterprise Architecture Sits?
The first question that you must ask before making any business decision is the all-important "why?" Why does it matter where enterprise architecture sits within your business, and why should you go to the effort of re-organizing to move it?
While it may sometimes feel that IT and the rest of the business are running at contrary purposes, they have the same goals: achieving results with the minimum cost and least complication.
As such, these results can be pursued from anywhere within your organization, so why not IT? One could say that sitting within IT makes most sense as enterprise architecture is also a technical field, and one better able to support EA with the right enterprise architecture tools.
However, as we established, a proper enterprise architecture framework is vital for reducing costs and optimizing utility during a recession, which is the priority of most organizations today. Nestled under IT, enterprise architecture's value in achieving business goals can be obscured.
During the webinar, Dominik asked attendees whether their EA team was tracking their success in supporting business goals. 76% of attendees do not track this, which supports the Future of Enterprise Architecture survey's similar figure (77%).
This also matches the previously noted 78% of EA teams that sit under IT. We believe this is because EA teams that report to IT are not able to fully represent their value in achieving business goals to leadership.
What If Enterprise Architecture Stood Apart?
It's hard to doubt that efficient enterprise architecture management (EAM) has a real value to enterprise. Yet, as a function of IT, EAM can be lost in the stream of IT success. Simply counted as one of many IT functions, EAM can be treated as just a part of IT, meaning it won't necessarily receive the resources and support it needs.
Enterprise IT landscapes are becoming composable, flexible, and scalable, made up of micro-services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. In the future, the goal won't be to dictate an IT toolset to the business, but to help maintain efficiency and fit within the selection of IT tools that business segments have chosen for themselves.
This means enterprise architecture management needs to change to become collaborative EAM, working with the business to align technology to business capabilities and needs, rather than just an IT function. Better, the field could become "EAM-as-a-Service", a resource for business segments to approach and request support in self-optimization.
How can we grow traditional enterprise architecture into the IT-independent EAM-as-a-Service (EaaS) that EA needs to become?
Upgrading enterprise architecture management (EAM) to become EAM-as-a-Service (EaaS) requires transitioning from traditional enterprise architecture (EA) to offering a new service for the future of business. This requires becoming data-driven, prioritizing investment, and increased speed and agility.
Data is truth and following the data is the only way to ensure you're taking the right course of action. That's the key to enterprise architecture management (EAM) and why enterprise architects need the right enterprise architecture tools.
The LeanIX platform is designed to automate the process of gathering data on your IT landscape so you can make informed decisions.
2. Customer experience-focused
The true value of enterprise architecture management (EAM) is determining how best to invest in technology to support business processes.
Traditional IT focused on providing a toolset to achieve business capabilities. This is still vital, but EAM-as-a-service needs to also consider whether those tools provide the right experiences to both employees and the end-consumer. This is important for both retaining key talent and keeping customers loyal.
The first two key principle of the Agile Manifesto are:[/p]
"Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software
"Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage"
To remain agile when using software, the goal is to satisfy the customer's needs and continue to adapt to them as they change. This is the goal for EAM-as-a-service (EaaS).
EaaS must offer the users within your organization and the customers outside of it satisfying software experiences and be prepared to change to meet those needs as they progress.
The needs of the future
Beyond the above, enterprise architects (EA) must expand their business acumen and interpersonal skills to meet the needs of the wider business beyond the metrics of their IT department. We must embrace cloud architecture and cyber security as tools within our remit, along with artificial intelligence (AI), low-code and no-code options, and even business sustainability.
We need to test ourselves against the strategic needs of the entire business, not just IT. We are no longer specialists, we are generalists.
Whether we sit under IT or become independent EA teams is not as relevant as how we prepare ourselves for the future. Doing so, however, will be easier when we act according to business goals, rather than just IT.
This is why our customers are telling us that they see EA moving out of IT. It is also why they use enterprise architecture tools to help them align EAM with their organization's strategy.
LeanIX empowers an outcome-driven approach to leverage technology, make decisions, and manage change. Our agile, best-practice data model allows you to meet all future business challenges.
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