Monday, June 30, 2014

O Enterprise Architecture Where Art Thou?

Does your Enterprise Architecture Organization have the ability to respond to disruptive forces?

Gartner defines Enterprise Architecture (EA) as “a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes”.
Key to this definition is the part related to “responses to disruptive forces”. However it is my experience that in most organizations EA focuses on establishing a long term end-state strategic vision and then directing Information Management/Information Technology teams establish and adhere to strategic roadmaps to realize that vision.
Somewhere in this process the “responses to disruptive processes” gets missed out.The miss is often due to the fact that the EA processes are geared to operate like a large Aircraft Carrier (very robust and reliable, but difficult to make course corrections) whereas the response to disruptive forces needs to be with the agility of a speedboat. Some of these disruptive processes if overlooked can have potential cataclysmic implications ("Big Bang Disruption" by Larry Downes and Paul F. Nunes, Harvard Business Review, March 2013)
I strongly recommend that EA organizations in addition to their regular mandate also assume the mantle of Technology/Trends Impact Forecasting and Assessment. Some may say that it would be a tall order. Sensitizing business and technology teams to the potential impacts of say Bitcoins as a payment medium , when the teams are still plodding through their roadmap to get their systems, processes and technologies aligned for handling regular bank or credit card transactions seems far-fetched indeed.
However if companies want to ensure that their Architecture is not rendered obsolete or anachronistic by the “disruptive forces” unleashed by a Big Bang Disrupter they need to prevent these forces from having a revolutionary effect and transform the impact into an evolutionary one by ensuring that the Technology/Trends Impact Forecasting and Assessment Framework focuses on
- early identification of emerging trends/technologies
- what-if /SWOT analysis to identify impact on existing business/strategic architecture/strategic roadmaps
- identify opportunities to leverage the emerging trend/technologies
- Modify long term EA/strategic roadmaps appropriately
- get "co-opted" into the evolution process
- ride the evolutionary wave and reap the benefits.-
If EA has to do justice to what Gartner describes as “steer decision making toward the evolution of the future state architecture” it would need to be in a position to predict and maneuver around or in alignment with disrupters.

Does your EA organization have that ability?

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