Modernizing enterprise architecture for the digital age


As digital operating models change business processes and the IT landscape, enterprise architecture (EA) – a rigid pillar of IT – has also shown signs of evolution. A key indicator of this evolution is the growing interest in enterprise architecture management (EAM) tools, which transformational enterprise architects and CIOs are turning to to jointly digitize the business.

According to research firm Gartner, the EA tools industry is seeing annual revenue growth of up to 30% from a limited footprint, with support for these tools growing as EA expands beyond direct control of IT services and in more democratized technological environments. This is a stark contrast to a decade ago when the industry was thought to only generate $10 million in revenue because the tools were too complicated.

CIOs and their enterprise architects are now embracing EA tools because these tools allow organizations to examine the need for and impact of change, as well as capture relationships and mutual trust within partner ecosystems, operating models, capabilities, processes, applications and technologies – all key trends in the age of digital transformation.

“The organization usually has tons of initiatives going on, so operationalizing them can be difficult, especially since people are so busy,” says Anjali Subburaj, DCX Architect at digital retailer The Very Group.

Additionally, the pace of change increases the need for architects to use tools that enable efficient response times to business needs.

“At Citi, we needed to be able to scale in order to keep up with payments from Airbnb and Uber,” says Eric Newcomer, former CTO of the financial services provider and current CTO of technology provider WS02. “The transition from monolith to microservices requires a high level of good governance.” Digital transformation must also be rapid, but must not lose sight of regulations, cybersecurity and corporate reputation.

With the current climate of change, CIOs are exploring EAM tools because the traditional EA approach cannot keep pace with the rapid pace that digital transformation demands. “There is continuous change in business, and that means change in IT, so there is never a constant picture,” says André Christ, CEO and founder of emerging EAM technology provider LeanIX. So IT leaders in disparate industries such as financial services, media, consumer goods, manufacturing, and academia are embracing new tools to help see, analyze, and manage the fluid landscapes of enterprise technology at as they digitize their organizations.

“Being able to look at the application mix as a whole and try to understand how it creates value or risk, allows you to advocate for change, or even maintain the status quo,” says enterprise architect Jonathan Gregory, currently with the UK Houses of Parliament. “EAM takes business results and translates into a series of investment opportunities that have a clear line of sight to realizing them. This is where the opportunity lies for enterprise architects, among others.

Not just for computing

As CIOs have become business leaders and regular board members, technology has become essential to solving business challenges or developing new business opportunities. Therefore, EA is also expanding its scope. Recently, the Enterprise Architect was seen as a very technical role, but as technology has migrated to the cloud via SaaS and ownership has moved beyond traditional IT to lines of business, the role has, like that from the CIO, need to include commercial architecture capabilities. , delivering change at pace and moving away from projects to products.

“Enterprise architects must be empowered to tackle the challenges of integration,” says Darren Coomer, founder of the Strategy and Architecture Group and CIO and COO of Swiss Re Group, a Zurich-based financial services provider. “An enterprise architecture tool is often sold as a prerequisite by consulting firms who often earn commissions on the software. So get advice on what value it really brings beyond what you’re paying your professional service providers to provide. »

EAM tools analyze the business, its capabilities, customers, processes and products, and then operate in the language used by the business. In other words, it creates ownership. “It democratizes the architecture so you can ask questions about the applications being used,” says enterprise architect Mike Winfield of Tokio Marine Kiln, a London-based specialist insurance company. “You could do some of this on a spreadsheet, but mapping the relationships between business, application, data, and technical architectures quickly becomes unmanageable.”

As organizations and CIOs move away from waterfall projects and towards agility and DevOps, EAM technologies enable better product understanding and management. “With a product approach, you’re continually building something, so how do you know if you’re delivering business value?” says the Christ of LeanXI.

The latest generation of EAM technologies and EA protagonists are heavily focused on business value, which, like a product, is a continuum, not a one-time event. “You’ve made an investment and you need to keep investing,” says Enterprise Architect Gregory. “For the finance department, it can be a different way of working. So you need to take the CFO with you, which is why the EA is now a business partner looking at how capabilities are being used and how the investment can yield the best return.

EAM tools are therefore part of how EAs and technology managers manage the investments made not only by CIO and IT, but also by the business. “Enterprise-managed IT is not a bad thing because it drives process efficiency and employee and customer satisfaction,” says Christ. “The risks, however, are cost, integration and what is expected of IT. SaaS allows the business architect to intelligently correlate their usage information, leading to conversations about how they and IT can help. »

Credible data: the basis of a successful environmental assessment strategy

While leading enterprise architects see the need for a tool that better reflects the way they work, they also have concerns. “Provenance and credibility are key, so you risk making bad decisions as an enterprise architect if the data isn’t accurate,” Gregory says of how EAM tools depend on the quality of data. data. Winfield agrees, adding, “The hardest part is getting accurate data in the EAM.”

Gartner, in its Magic Quadrant for EA Tools, reports that the EAM industry could also face some consolidation: moves by buying or launching their own EA tools.

Yet some CIOs question the value of adding EAM tools to their technology portfolio alongside IT service management (ITSM) tools, for example. Very Group’s Subburaj foresees this as a challenge. “Some business leaders will struggle to see the direct business impact,” he says.

And Coomer voices similar concerns: “Some large organizations have spent millions to implement EA tools and maintain dedicated internal teams to keep them up to date. But in reality, that’s not always necessary, and the CIO and organization are inheriting another legacy platform that becomes difficult to move out of. The real value of an EA tool is often in visualization and the ability to tell a different story, using the same basic data for different many different stakeholders – from the details a business analyst might need to execute change initiatives, to the board looking for some security and validation that they are on the right path to transformation.”

Redraw the role

While EAM tools have entered the market due to the changing role of EA, CIOs are not as wary of their purpose in digital transformation.

“Architects can be their own worst enemies – too academic and too much methodology,” says the WS02 newcomer, himself a former EA. Gregory also understands the CTO’s frustration: “Over the past few years, there has been a dividing line in the role of the enterprise architect, who in the past was seen as a technical guru who had risen through the ranks of technology.”

But the same was true of the IOC in the zeros. However, the role has transformed to being business-centric and the architect is evolving to become a key partner to the CIO. According to Subburaj, the importance of EA communication is growing. The necessity and complexity of technology in modern organizations has inevitably led to the need to architect the interconnections between business processes, outcomes and the intertwined technology that plays a critical role. This complexity required new EAM tools to visualize these relationships and provide a blueprint from which the CIO and stakeholders can better grow the business.


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