What is Enterprise Architecture: Reduce Growth Pangs with EA

A typical modern organization depends on Information Technology (IT) to keep track of its customers and transactions, automate processes and disseminate information to its stakeholders. This implies that a growing organization necessitates an ever-increasing IT infrastructure and suite of IT systems. Traditionally, IT systems were distributed in various departments, such as, finance and accounting, sales and marketing, the shop floor, the human resources department and so on, with little or no interchange of data among these departmental IT systems. This led to the classic complaint from the executive management that they did get the “reports” or dashboards needed to take timely and effective operational and strategic decisions.  In management parlance this problem is often described as one of  “data silos”.

To cater to a specific business problem when the organization needs a “point solution”, the IT professionals charged with the responsibility to design such an application, provide the “solution architecture”. Clubbing of such solutions at a departmental or a divisional level leads to a “divisional architecture”. Creating a blueprint of the entire IT infrastructure at the organizational level is called the Enterprise Architecture (EA).

The MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) define Enterprise Architecture as “the organizing logic for business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting the integration and standardization requirements of the company’s operating model. The operating model is the desired state of business process integration and business process standardization for delivering goods and services to customers”.

It is said that the moment an organization has two or more IT systems, it needs an Enterprise Architecture (EA), which provides a cogent view of the electronic channels available to stakeholders, integration of the various IT systems and the timely data for business intelligence.

Validated by the experience of ever-changing organizations, the fact is that IT infrastructure and the business goals of the organization start to diverge, as the business expands and changes rapidly.  In addition to its primary aim of business aligned IT, EA also provides a framework and guiding light to the CIO, through policies and processes that encompass vendor management, technology choices and solution investments.

Gartner believe that Enterprise Architecture (EA) governance has an important role to play on the demand and supply sides of IT governance, and recently ran an excellent webinar on the subject.

Contributor: Dr. Hemant Adarkar


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