Enterprise Architecture Provides Opportunities, Challenges for Businesses

Within EA in particular, there is an increasing emphasis on business- and information-architecture skills, which are often hard to find.

Organizations are looking to grow and improve efficiency of their operations, creating new demands on CIOs and enterprise architecture (EA), according to a survey by IT research firm Gartner.

More than half (52) percent of respondents in the firms 2013 CEO and Senior Executive Survey said their organizations have a digital strategy, and Gartner analysts believe that digital technologies (what Gartner terms the Nexus of Forces—mobile, social media, big data and analytics—and the Internet of Things) create new opportunities for innovative business models.

"Senior business executives are challenging CIOs and their IT organizations to be at the front of digital strategy, identifying innovative new business models and technologies, and getting more business value out of each technology investment," Marcus Blosch, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "Enterprise architects can provide unique capabilities to help CIOs develop a new agenda for 'hunting and harvesting' in a digital world."

A further challenge for CIOs and enterprise architects is how to build the competencies needed to support these new roles of hunting and harvesting. Within EA in particular, there is an increasing emphasis on business and information architecture skills, which are often hard to find.

The report said these competencies must be combined with more-agile approaches to innovation, such as being able to run experiments. The ability to identify an opportunity, quickly set it up and pilot it, assess the results and decide to expand into another cycle or kill off is needed to support both hunting and harvesting. Enterprise architecture can support this by providing the enabling and diagnostics deliverables as part of the hypothesis formation, setting up the pilot and assessing the results.

"With the global economy still struggling, enterprise architects around the world will need to use EA to help drive growth and innovation, while at the same time identifying opportunities for performance improvement and cost cutting at a time when IT budgets are flat," Blosch continued. "Given these factors, CIOs must extend IT's performance profile beyond tending, to hunting and harvesting for digital value. For enterprise architects, particularly those who sit within the IT organization, this is a great opportunity to move EA into a more strategic role. Business-outcome-driven EA is integral to achieving each of these areas to provide insight and support decision-making. The EA team currently has the opportunity to become more strategic by aligning itself to support the CIO and the organization."

Enterprise architecture teams can also do technology tracking and create innovation management processes to support hunting, the report noted. Harvesting is driven through techniques such as business-capability modeling, which provides a basis for identifying and delivering outcomes. Capabilities created in one area of the business can be harvested in others, using EA to identify where potential synergies exist.