A new day is here. I am inspired by Martin Mysyk’s article introducing the SAP Enterprise Architecture Community Group and how he describes the evolution of enterprise architecture (EA) and the EA role. He makes the critical point that, “Enterprise Architecture may have started in Information Technology but has evolved all the way up the business food chain into corporate strategy."
This is the opportunity and the necessity: for enterprise architecture to help inform, translate, enable, and underpin the entire journey for organizations from strategy to execution and results. Enterprise architects can play a critical role to guide, give trusted opinions, and help people see the bigger picture to make well-informed decisions on their organizations’ transformational journeys – journeys that will ultimately shape the future for all of us.
Business architecture is a gateway to leveraging enterprise architecture strategically.
The contemporary evolution of business architecture in particular is a gateway and accelerator to help organizations leverage enterprise architecture strategically. After decades of working with organizations across all sectors, industries, and geographies as well as helping to formalize the business architecture discipline globally, I have fueled and witnessed an important evolution and expansion: business architecture has become a strategic business practice. Business architecture is undoubtedly the tip of the spear for and a part of the enterprise architecture umbrella. But, it has become so much more. Business architecture is arguably a missing aspect of strategic management (and something we all should be learning about in business school) to give organizations a shared, integrative framework to bridge silos, inform and translate strategy with a more robust perspective, and make holistic decisions.
Business architecture bridges worlds, especially when it is positioned and leveraged upfront in the strategy to execution life cycle to inform and translate strategy and shape the work, in close partnership with other EA roles and other teams. In addition, this positioning and leverage of business architecture is also advantageous to bring the whole discipline of enterprise architecture into a new strategic context with a seat at the table.
Why does this matter? Very simply stated, enterprise architecture helps organizations build better capacity for end-to-end strategy execution, better organization design, and better decisions. In today’s digital and connected world of shifting business models and continuous disruption, the ability to translate business direction into action, and constantly innovate and adapt to change, has now become competitive advantage (or necessary to serving one’s constituents). The organizations that can execute in a coordinated way – and with agility – will win.
First, organizations must do change well. They need to strengthen their strategy to execution muscle for defining clear strategic intent and then translating it into organized effort across people, process, and technology with transparency, accountability, and intentional change management from end-to-end. Enterprise architecture plays a unique role to inform and translate strategy, and business architecture provides the golden thread traceability for strategic alignment, tying the strategies to the architecture to the initiatives.
Second, enterprise architecture helps organizations design for effectiveness, agility, and resilience. For example, enterprise architecture can help with anything from streamlining processes and applications to facilitating a new composable business mindset, architecture, and technology. An organization that is designed for effectiveness and agility is not only more efficient but can make changes even quicker.
Finally, enterprise architecture helps people make better decisions for the organization and its stakeholders. The architecture knowledgebase provides a macrolevel, multidimensional view of the business and its connections that can be used to inform a wide range of business scenarios.
The call to action is for organizations to build a strategic business architecture practice.
Where do we go from here?
Build a business architecture practice within your organization or mature your existing one. If your organization already has a business architecture function, does it have a clearly defined, strategic value proposition? Is it delivering relevant and valuable business outcomes regularly? Is business architecture leveraged early in the cycle of formulating strategies and ideas? Does the practice have business sponsorship and ownership? Is it tightly integrated with enterprise architecture and other key partners such as the strategy, strategic planning, and design teams?
Rediscover business architecture. If you are an architect or practitioner, explore the expansions and nuances of business architecture that have come as a result of its formalization and bridge building over the last decade, such as through efforts by the Business Architecture Guild®. Be conversant in and an advocate for your organization’s business architecture.
Make business architecture for everybody. While building a strategic business architecture practice is a journey that takes time, as the ideas of architecture become adopted, make the business architecture available for everyone. A business architecture provides a shared business language and mental model for an entire whole organization. The more people that use it the more powerful it will become to help create a common understanding and democratize and support well-informed decision-making across the organization.