The re-emergence of Enterprise Architecture

The Open Group describes their TOGAF Certification framework, created in 1995, as ‘a proven Enterprise Architecture methodology and framework used by the world’s leading organizations to improve business efficiency’.

TOGAF became very popular in Australian enterprises around 15 years ago, when many organisations saw it as the framework they needed to better align their IT to the business strategy and plans.

Unfortunately, many newly minted enterprise architects at the time struggled to articulate how it worked and where the value lay. Being a very complex framework, it is not that easy to describe in very simple terms. 

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a slow-burn capability, where value is delivered over time rather than immediately and the return on investment can be difficult to immediately define.

This difficulty in articulating the importance and benefits of EA to business stakeholders resulted in a loss of confidence in the framework and discipline as a whole, with many organisations making EA positions redundant or converting them to other roles.

Over the past 12 months, we have noted a resurgence in the recognition of Enterprise Architecture (EA) as a critical capability in governing IT and digital investment. The question is – why?

A need to bridge the divide

The last few years has seen major transformations driven by rapid expansion of the digital agenda. The proliferation of new technologies has only increased the divide between business and IT, with executives feeling bombarded by language that seems to be more technology driven than aligned to business strategy.

In their drive to adapt and respond, IT executives have found it increasingly difficult to highlight the business value of these new technologies, with much of the terminology only serving to further alienate their business counterparts.

Coupled with ageing and unmaintained existing platforms, this divide leaves businesses faced with quite the conundrum: How to uplift old systems to better align to business growth, while also taking advantage of advances in technology, and align this to business vision?

It would seem that the business world is experiencing a gap in IT’s understanding of their strategy and plans. EA is the perfect capability to bridge this divide, but how do we clearly articulate and prove value?

An internal solution?

Last month, Gartner released thought leadership suggesting that EA needs to evolve into an internal management consulting capability. They stated that doing so “supports digital strategy and allows enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders to deliver tangible business value through EA.”

We couldn’t agree more, and recently helped one of our clients setup their Enterprise Architecture Office over 6 months. One of the key objectives was to prove the value of EA, which we successfully did through pragmatic, real life examples.

If you are on the journey to re-invigorating your EA capability, here are our top 3 tips:

  1. Don’t fall into the trap of hiring solution architects as enterprise architects – its highly likely that they’ll dilute your EA value
  2. Don’t make it all theoretical – the frameworks are great, but rarely practical when implemented to the letter
  3. Include Organisational Change Management (OCM) to help drive adoption. Creating an EA structure without considering OCM will see it languish on the shelf once again

Get in touch with our team to find out more about EA and how it could help bridge the divide for your business.