Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series is a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories. In this feature, Ardoq‘s VP of Product Ian Stendera offers commentary on how modern enterprise architecture drives enterprise success.
Emerging from a pandemic into a recession has magnified the need for operational awareness and transparency for every business. In the best of economic times, businesses seek profitable digital transformations. In the times that executives face today, Enterprise Architecture (EA) can be a tool for enterprise knowledge and preparation.
IDC forecasts that global digital transformation investment will reach nearly seven trillion dollars in 2023. While there’s no denying the priority businesses give digital transformation, many still struggle to do it well. IDC also reported that nearly 90 percent of IT leaders feel constrained in their efforts by existing infrastructure, operations, and culture. Compounded with the economic downturn, leaders need a tool that offers actionable insights into their processes, people and methods, with the goal of weathering these troubled times and drive business success. What’s particularly striking is that EA, when done well – and not married to processes and centralized control – can simultaneously enable profitable transformation and business agility.
How Modern Enterprise Architecture Drives Enterprise Success
The Current Problem for Businesses
Despite fears about the future of business, there is evidence that the role of the Enterprise Architect is emerging as one of the most important jobs in technology. Digital transformation is increasing demand for EA and dedicated EA roles. Data from LinkedIn shows that there has been an increase of five to eight percent in the number of open Enterprise Architect positions per annum in the European and US markets.
The acceleration of digital business has been caused by a fundamental demographic shift in technology resources and ownership in enterprises worldwide. Since the start of the 21st century, businesses have over-centralized decision-making processes. We are seeing the same trend as organizations prepare for and anticipate a recession.
This often manifests as a consolidation of business design teams into one or a few business technologists or “IT master” roles. Leaders believe this move will make their businesses more coordinated and responsive to various needs and changes – since one or few people can quickly make standardized decisions across the company. Therein lies the problem: these decision-makers have too many decisions to make and too much information on hand to make them.
Time constraints and current economic factors mean they’re unable to make one decision before others pile up. It’s a cyclical nightmare for business leaders and, in a digital organization, it’s impossible to sustain centralized decision-making models. Businesses see centralization as the right response to recessionary fears, but this shift in enterprise management can cause larger problems than it solves.
How the Enterprise Architect Fits In
Enterprise Architects, and EA in general, can help businesses avoid these operational delays and stalled decisions due to over-centralization. When it comes to the recession, Enterprise Architects are valuable to business leaders. They can help businesses move quickly through a queue of needs, all while allowing space for experimentation and protecting existing revenue.
Next-gen EA tools – not to be confused with their authoritarian predecessors – are designed for today’s digital businesses, permitting de-centralized decision-making at scale and thus more efficient responses
to challenges. Leaders democratize business structures across the enterprise by enabling a decentralized model, held together by a group of collaborative architects. This democratization gives them windows into the current state of their company, maps of where each product team is headed and interactive, easily-digestible visualizations for stakeholders. Moreover, by allowing for more dynamic decision-making processes, leaders are creating more adaptable, agile businesses – ones that can weather the sudden changes that come with an economic downturn.
As the popularity of the Enterprise Architect role increases, it becomes more apparent that centralized decision-making is a thing of the past and that modern EA is the best solution for businesses to leverage without sacrificing their margins. For EA, that means addressing how decision-making has changed in today’s business, moving from an authoritarian force governing people and processes to a unifying, collaborative role that drives innovation and profit at a product level.
Centralized Decision-Making Has Disappeared – So Where Does EA Go?
The key to effective decisions is understanding what can and can’t be distributed. By definition, this requires an investment in enterprise design. Empowering others across the organization with a clear scope, boundaries and mandates, eliminates much of the noise for decision-makers, enabling them to focus on high-priority goals or longer-term issues.
The need for cross-functional, distributed technology ownership is the perfect ecosystem for the enterprise architect to shine. Traditionally, EA has governed and exerted control over technology. However, as this becomes decentralized across the business and, thus, influenced by EAs, innovations become collaborative rather than authoritarian.
Leaders can leverage the Enterprise Architect in their change initiatives. By pooling data across departments, executives can support their assertions on which areas of the business would benefit most from a change in design. Modeling projects means they can be compared simultaneously, helping to uncover which strategy will yield the greatest returns.
EA-driven roadmaps can help leaders consider KPIs a year or ten years into the future of the business, made more solid by knowledge distilled directly from those closest to the respective tools and processes they use. Technology acquisition and skill dependencies cross product boundaries, regulatory compliance processes intersect many different processes, enterprise-wide cost objectives span multiple siloes, and cybersecurity threats could rear up anywhere.
For business leaders, many of these processes were previously invisible, buried in the depths of their IT departments. Now EA can replace over-centralization to drive truly democratized decisions, regardless of other dependencies.
The New Role of EA in the Digital Economy
No matter how teams are organized, there is a fundamental need for business leaders to make informed decisions about what goes on, both within the areas in their control and those beyond it – which has always been EA’s true mandate. Even as technology becomes more decentralized, the Enterprise Architect must ensure that those systems work together and translate those technology decisions across the business.
EA can support the business in understanding the big picture by mapping end-to-end processes (even as the processes are being disrupted) and application integrations, organizing information assets, and
coordinating change activity. EA teams are in a unique position because no one else across the business can take the people, processes and technology and create a single system from those components.
The democratization of technology across the business has brought challenges and responsibilities. While the traditional need for technology governance and planning is under duress, the internal market for data and insight into the enterprise is only growing. For the Enterprise Architecture team, this is a huge opportunity.
- How Modern Enterprise Architecture Drives Enterprise Success - February 10, 2023