Should Anyone Care about Enterprise Architecture?

SIM (professional group for CIOs and their direct reports) hosted a webinar today about Enterprise Architecture (EA), in partnership with Info-Tech Research Group. Enterprise Architecture is a triggering, baggage-laden phrase for people who have had bad experiences with ivory-tower architects who want to throw TOGAF diagrams at people and tell them their projects are out of compliance.

The speakers’ focus on understanding “the business” (what the revenue-producing parts of the organization do), using tools like value stream mapping and business capability modeling were good, as the old approach of EA was so academic that those groups were often marginalized or cut from organizations because they were blockers to delivering value. Anthony Rodgers made a great point of shifting EA teams from approvers to advisors who can help accelerate/deliver value.

I agree with the panel that IT organizations should avoid saying “Enterprise Architecture” (because of the significant negative baggage). I think organizations should invest in a lean, centralized team of people who help the IT and business organizations understand enterprise capability maps, teaching value stream mapping, and connecting enterprise threads like enterprise data strategy, cyber security compliance, application portfolio strategy with strategic goals and product roadmaps.

2 comments

  1. Mike, I agree with the sentiment of your essay. I am less comfortable avoiding a word or phrase while embracing some or all of its core tenants. If not enterprise architecture, what would we call the good ideas in enterprise architecture?

  2. It’s a fair point Tom! I think EA has changed so much over the last 10-20 years that it’s less about pretending a different name, and instead realizing that the domain has changed so much, that maybe it’s time for a new name to reflect that we’re not really doing Enterprise Architecture anymore. It seems like now we’re doing more Strategy and Architecture coordination and facilitation. But I appreciate the point not to make up phrases while doing a specific domain of work. It seems very, very common at organizations to avoid the phrase, so it feels like we need to acknowledge a name change is necessary, instead of everyone inconsistently using different names.

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