Sunday, May 5, 2013

Enterprise Architecture in Plain English

What is Enterprise Architecture in plain English?

In any organization, there is an overall strategy, there has to be - whether it is written down somewhere or it is in someone's mind.

Very simply put, these strategies could be growing revenues, cutting costs, penetrating emerging markets, increasing brand loyalty etc. etc. All these nice sounding things are then made measurable by putting a metric to it. For example - grow revenues by 12%, cut costs by 10%, grow emerging market sales to 30% of the company's revenue and so on. More on this specific topic later, but for now just flow with me..

Now these strategies are no good if you can't deliver on them. But you knew that didn't you! So each one of these strategies might need some new solutions (or leverage existing solutions) to make these into a reality.

Enter Enterprise Architecture! Enterprise Architecture forms the link between enterprise strategy and its implementation in the form of various solutions. Seems like a pretty important task for the enterprise. Perceptive reader as you are, you must have noticed that we have not talked at all about Information Technology, Servers, Storage, Virtualization, Application etc. etc. That is in fact the most abused form of Enterprise Architecture where it is equated to simply Technical Architecture. There are many specific reasons for that, most of them purely historical - but we will get into them at a later stage.

In short, Enterprise Architecture is a planning function, not a delivery function. It provides the methods and techniques to connect strategy with actual delivery. This might seem an obvious statement but it is a profound one and most companies struggle with this for many years. Sometimes the Enterprise Architects are expected to provide "real" value by helping to deliver solutions; other times they are criticized for not having "business context" or connection with strategy; other times they are questioned for their "ivory tower" strategic outlooks! Talk about walking on fire :-)

In case you time travelled to 1980s and your browser is incapable of rendering the image above, what it is basically saying is:
"Enterprise Architecture = Link between Strategy and Implementation"

Please stay tuned for more on this.. Would love to hear back from you whether you agree or not, so please drop me a line if you like. Thanks for reading!

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