Digital transformation remains the priority objective for many enterprises. The aspiration is to drive automation - often with an emphasis towards the digital customer experience. Invariably a roadmap of projects is defined, and new automation capabilities are realized.
The problem is that each of these initiatives is addressed in isolation. Overlapping technology capabilities are purchased. Stovepipe approaches to security, integration, analytics and infrastructure are taken. Over time complexity increases and agility reduces. Precisely the reverse outcome to that originally intended. Loss of agility becomes a serious impediment to competitive sustainability.
The Enterprise Architect has answers to these challenges. The architect knows how to bring these matters into focus through the application of best practices. However, the Enterprise Architect is too often defensively postured. Grappling with data requests and an increasingly mountainous volume of enterprise data there is insufficient time or energy to establish the holistic view.
Figure: A business capability map brings clarity to automation needs across the business - providing a basis for automation planning.
The challenge is to take the Enterprise Architect out of the details and into the core business issues. This implies changes for the architect:
- The Enterprise Architecture must take a robustly use-case driven approach that focuses on primary enterprise issues
- The Enterprise Architecture must take charge of Business-IT alignment by establishing a common language for discussion.
- The Enterprise Architecture must ensure elevate his conversation to CIO-level and across multiple stakeholders
- The Enterprise Architect must bring visibility to his models and communicate them in a way which is relevant to business stakeholders in particular
A practical way forwards is to start by establishing a foundation Business Capability Map. The capability map should provide visibility of the capabilities of the organization leading from the front end-channel management through service orchestration to core and supporting business functions. The capability map should also consider enabling capabilities such as interoperability, security, analytics and IT. Ideally the business capability map utilizes best practice frameworks but contextualizes these for the business situation. A good example in the financial services sector is the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN).
Once established the Business Capability Map provides a foundation for business-IT alignment and enables several important use cases to be realized. A primary example is the ‘Jam-Gap’ analysis. Which capability areas are automated through many technology systems and which are not automated? For many enterprises the results of this basic analysis are a surprise. Entire core business capabilities prove not automated but clearly should be. Other capabilities are automated through multiple overlapping technologies and more are planned in the future. This sort of analysis provides the foundation for many other techniques for driving efficiency and for optimization of the IT landscape.
Ultimately, the Enterprise Architect must also ensure that architectural plans and insights accelerate automation and innovation by establishing a foundation for standardization rather than impeded them through protracted analysis. The experienced architect knows how to achieve this aim by establishing a practical architecture that predicts business needs and provides a foundation for their early realization. The Business Capability Map is a key foundational model for achieving these aims.
We are operating in a world where transformation is a perpetual rather than an annual process. In this context the Enterprise Architecture has a key role to play. Our perspective is that the ability of an enterprise to architect is fast becoming the primary source of competitive advantage.