Reinventing Enterprise Architecture to Deliver Digital Transformation Success

Envitia's CEO Nabil Lodey explains how Enterprise Architecture can kick start your digital programmes.

The most successful digital transformation projects have invested in Enterprise Architecture as a framework to translate business strategy into coherent and flexible data and technology plans.

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Digital Information Officers (CDIOs) are under significant pressure to deliver digital transformation projects as a central component to their organisation’s strategy. However, many might be overwhelmed with factors such as:

  • Limited personal experience of delivering enterprise change management programmes
  • Significant number of legacy systems across silos
  • Poor visibility of data across the organisation
  • Lack of digital skills and culture across the organisation

Historically, successful CIOs/CDIOs were adept at delivering large IT-programmes which, whilst they were complex, they were very much within the IT-domain. However, with today’s digital and data transformation, CIOs/CDIOs are required to deliver an organisation’s business objective which arguably requires a different set of skills.

Unsurprisingly, the average tenure of CIO/CDIOs has reduced dramatically in recent years to as low as 3 years reflecting the number of failed digital transformation projects such as cloud migration and AI/ML initiatives that failed to deliver the promised return on investment. The next generation of CIOs/CDIOS are therefore rapidly focussing on the skillset and tools that they will need to deliver success.

One of these is the ability to build an Enterprise Architecture capability that sits as the critical, and often missing, component between business strategy and data/technology plans. Enterprise Architecture keeps digital initiatives relevant for driving the organisation towards its operational goals.

Reinventing Enterprise Architecture

Whilst the original Enterprise Architecture concept had always started with business strategy, this was not always relevant for delivering IT-projects therefore Enterprise Architecture remained a very IT-focused discipline with deeply technical frameworks such as TOGAF.

Enterprise Architecture 2.0 therefore doubles down on business strategy as its start, middle, and end, to understand what data is needed to solve key business challenges for the organisation. Even without any consideration of technology, Enterprise Architects are focused on business challenges and data. This is the major evolution for Enterprise Architecture practitioners. Only once an organisation understands what data is required, and why, can it identify the software applications to process that data and the technology/infrastructure to support those applications.

Organisations such as Envitia are leading the way in this discipline as Data experts rather than IT experts, or traditional Consultants. This demonstrates the importance of Data as the key driver for business change.

Delivering a Coherent Enterprise Architecture for your Organisation

Every Enterprise Architecture is different depending on each Organisation’s business goals. However, the diagram below represents how Envitia might typically approach an Enterprise Architecture challenge to focus on four key pillars of:

  • Business
  • Data
  • Applications
  • Technology

Across each pillar the disciplines of Enterprise Architecture and Solution Architecture will enable pillars to be coherent and ‘joined-up’ but also flexible to adapt to future changes, which will inevitably happen and will enable CIOs/CDIOs to keep their digital transformation projects on-track, or adjust as necessary.

For simplification, Envitia refers to ‘Data Architects’ to deliver an Organisation’s Architecture but this will be a mix between:

  • Enterprise Architects
  • Data Architects
  • Solution Architects
  • Security Architects

The advantage of delivering an Enterprise Architecture-as-a Service, as preferred by some customers, is that the skill set can be amended as required throughout the project. Secondly, the Enterprise Architecture itself is not a single document but a living framework that sits alongside the strategy to be adapt to internal and external changes.

Finally, any plan will only remain a plan until it can be executed. A data engineering capability is then required to deliver the full range of data projects in a way that meets the Q-FAIR Data Principles whereby Data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and of the right Quality to be usable.

How to recognise the need for Enterprise Architecture

If, as a CIO/CDIO, your data projects could be delivering clearer & more measurable business-driven enhancements to your organisation, or if digital transformation projects are becoming increasingly driven by technology choices rather business enhancement strategies, it might be time to consider an Enterprise Architecture capability. Even a simple approach that reduces duplication or projects or improves data flow for better decision making, will itself provide a business-led improvement.

For an initial discussion please contact our data experts

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