Do I need to worry about Enterprise Architecture?

Cometh the moment, cometh the man! The biggest challenge in front of the modern CIO is to wade through all the clutter and hype, to create a robust IT infrastructure which efficiently supports the business goals of his organization. There are disruptive technologies now and again. In the 1990s, there was the Internet and Case Tools, in the early 2000s there was SOA. And now is the era of Cloud computing. The CIO as always under pressure, caught once again in the classical “boy in a toy shop” syndrome. He is advised to think strategically before jumping on to the next hyped up bandwagon of the technology industry.

The need to go beyond automating processes was emphasized by Nicholas Carr in his much celebrated article published in the Harvard Business Review, in May 2003. The scenario in front of the CIO and his team presents two categories of challenges, technology challenges and business challenges. The technology challenges include the running and maintaining of legacy systems, the existence of data in silos and new technology adoption. In addition, IT teams share with their non-IT colleagues the business challenges of retaining and acquiring new customers, increasing market share, reducing go-to-market timeframes and costs, creation of new lines of business and products, managing strategic mergers and acquisitions, and so on.

In order to create an IT infrastructure that aligns with the business goals, CIOs are turning to the discipline of Enterprise Architecture (EA). EA is not a back-office activity nor does it occur in a high-tech corner office , where business langauge is inadequately understood. On the contrary, it  is an exercise that translates the concerns and needs of the key stakeholders of the business, into a blueprint which includes a technology roadmap from the presently existing architecture (as-is) to the desired future state (to-be).

Enterprise Architecture by itself cannot be a one-time disruptive exercise. It is an integral part of business growth and expansion plans, as well as a crucial participant of ongoing IT projects and programs. If included into the fibre with due consideration to the impact of this discipline, the EA exercise is a potent strategic investment which in turn reduces the total cost of ownership of the organizations IT assets, prepares it for the future and enables benefits of new technologies if appropriate to the business.

In the next post in this discussion, we will outline the Enterprise Architecture methodology.

Contributor: Dr. Hemant Adarkar


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