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Do you agree that Enterprise Architecture is a business and not an IT imperative?

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In this blog, The business of EA, Freda du Toit says that EA should arise from the business, and that, "When IT is the originator and owner of EA, it becomes a departmental, or siloed, initiative focused mostly on the software architecture rather than the business need." So do you agree that EA is an imperative for the business but not for IT?  If so, how do you make sure business takes ownership?

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  • In theory, EA is an imperative for both business and IT since both are part of it. The EA concept is great.
    In practice though, it is not an imperative at all since EA does not deliver.
    Businesses continue to operate as they always did without EA since in reality, EA consists of IT reviews and roadmapping work without producing an EA architecture or blueprint.

    A reason is that the frameworks do not provide the necessary structured approaches and reference models.
    They are still called frameworks though.
    Zachman is a method of analytical thinking that applies to everything and nothing in particular.

    The problem is that the EA field, having been ill defined for too long, is hard to change. Many professionals don't even feel the demand for a "real" EA. After all, EA is an IT discipline and business made no move to demand architecture or provide frameworks.

  • Enterprise Architecture is the architecture of the entire enterprise. It comprises Business Architecture for Business and Technical Architecture for IT. Both are one. Both work for the same - business prosperity for the enterprise.

    If IT disagrees with this approach, it's better to go to ... clouds.

    • user-pic

      Cloud infrastructure necessitates EA to an even greater extent. Without an EA strategy the enterprise is creating little silos of cloud services and data that under utilizes it's potential. The EA is even more important when the enterprise spans on-premise and cloud solutions. I absolutely agree that business, information systems and technical architecture are all disciplines of EA. Enterprise Architecture should be an imperative for both business and IT.

  • Business does not need to takes ownership over IT, it owns IT all this time but the Business has to re-gain its attention to what it does and, in particular, with IT.

    Adrian said that EA failed. I disagree. The organisation that we call 'EA' these days is not real EA, it is wrong ambitious name, nothing more. EA does not exist yet because Business Architecture is not realised in the form of Subject and Discipline while all enterprises do it already.

    What is failed is a formal Technical Architecture because it cannot be successful w/o formal Business Architecture. Yes, Technical Architecture has to root from business needs, objectives and goals but it is not enough. To be successful, Technical Architecture has to operate in the context of Business Architecture and, until we do not understand and define what this context is, who realises it and who is responsible and accountable for it, our Technical Architecture will continue failing.

  • The importance of EA to a company depends on how important IT is to the company.

    A great way to put the right amount of focus on EA and IT is to define how business value should be measured. As soon as the important stakeholders have agreed upon that we can find out how much value IT contributes with. If the value is very big the business executives will pay attention to IT. If the value is not big maybe the business executives should be more mindful of other things.

    The sad thing is that too few companies have agreed upon how to measure business value and therefore live in the dark ages. They are literally blind.

  • Is IT not a business imperative too? Surely we don't "do IT" just for the sake of it?

    I just attended a BCS SIG meeting on EA by a "well known consultancy company". Their view is that EA is a driver for governance and control. Ergo, if you don't want to govern or control (across) your IT initiatives, don't do "EA"...

    • Paul, I completely agree with your comment about IT being a business imperative itself. With the exception of a small percentage of businesses, IT is NOT the business but simply an enabler (or imperative) of the business.

  • Enterprise Architecture is a description of the processes, people, business functions, systems, and the external environment to include clients, vendors, stakeholders and business information, noting how each unit interconnects to meet the purpose of the enterprise. The EA is designed according to the mission, vision and principles of the enterprise. Enterprise Architecture is not technical; it looks at the whole organization and all the pieces that are required to meet strategic goals. As IT is a functional part of the organization it has to provide the applications, data repositories and information security protocols and structure to manage the business information, provide the resources that allow people to process information quickly, safely and accurately while co-authoring a recursive relationship between business and IT. At the core of IT are the guiding principles and stratagem of the enterprise.

    With that said EA is an imperative for both business and IT. Based on the latter business and IT should share the design structure of the EA, as co-owners.

  • Enterprise Architecture (EA) is not IT only and nor should it be. Enterprise IT Architecture (EITA), on the other hand, is IT centric and so it should be. EA is about making the enterprise effective and therefore EA should subsume EITA and all of the other enterprise-level specialisations that contribute to an enterprise's effectiveness.

    However, enterprises are based on people and it is people who define the vision of the enterprise and people who make the enterprise succeed. It could be said, therefore, that EA is a people-centric architecture, helping people effectively deliver the services and products of their enterprise.

    The definition of said services and products involves a lot more than people and therefore EA has to be cognisant of other elements, including organisational dynamics, processes, information and knowledge management, provision of IT capability - the specialisations noted already

    So EA is a people-centric architecture that has to account and accommodate multiple elements that allows an enterprise to be effective. We just seem to be having a lot of trouble defining what those specialisations are.

  • It's become quite fashionable lately to insist that EA isn't an IT effort. Fine: but such proponents then usually proceed to bend over backwards to remove IT from the equation, which is patently ridiculous, not to mention self-defeating. (Witness, for example, the post at http://eamitabh.blogspot.com/2010/12/ceo-is-chief-enterprise-architect.html, where a consultant is cited as proud to have led an entire seminar on EA without once having "mentioned Information Technology, Standards, Processes, and Tools").

    Talk of EA without bringing in the ways that IT feeds into it tends to be absurdly abstract, with generic sentences such as "Formal and Informal EA can be bought together by a process of establishing, exploring, activating and application" posing as solid insight. Then, the straw-man argument also is brought into play, where people argue vehemently that IT is not separate from the business. All of these are part of a curious and persistent backlash that I've written about at http://www.peterkretzman.com/2009/08/30/the-title-issue-revisited-cto-vs-cio/

    Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. As Stephanie Quick argues above, EA is an imperative for both the business at large and IT as a component of that business.

  • I agree with the answers that it is Business and IT imperative, same as SOA is Business and IT imperative.
    However the significant questions to ask are:
    1. Who will initiate building an Enterprise Architecture?
    the answer is usually IT without the Business and sometimes IT with the Business. The first approach garantees failure.

    2. How well the initiative is executed?
    Currently there are many limitations in Enterprise Architecture practices as well as in Maturity of many enterprises IT and Business, therefore only few enteprises realize the benefits of Enterprise Atrchitecture.

  • I have more questions than answers.

    This is a great question but it makes an implicit assumption that EA is an imperative. The first thing we should be asking is: “Is formal EA really an imperative at all?? An imperative is something that MUST be done. Given that the modern corporation has been around for a century and almost none have anything even approaching a real EA – is it an imperative or is it just a good thing to do? Two questions help clarify this: “Will our companies fail without EA?? and “Is corporate management clamouring for EA?? If the answer to either of these is yes, then EA is an imperative.

    So, where should EA be driven from – IT or the Business? I am encouraging architects to drop the word “should? from their vocabulary. There is no “should?, only “what is? and “what can be?. What is - is that EA as it is currently practiced is mostly an IT thing. Like it or not, that is the reality. The question for us in EA is: “Can we make it a business thing too?? And that is a question only we can answer.

    This is exactly the type of discussion we will be having at our EA Forum the week of Feb 14th.

    - Jeff Scott, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research, serving Enterprise Architecture professionals

  • There are a couple of ways to answer this question. First any EA effort, regardless of where it emanates from, needs to articulate its value in business terms. For example, initiative X will improve KPI Q by a certain percentage. EA is about advancing the business.

    Which leads to the second way to answer the question: there is no separation between IT and the business so it doesn't matter. (I keep wanting to quote the kid from the Matrix: "there is no spoon"). So much of today's business is animated with technology that its increasingly difficult to separate the two.

    Returning to the artificial separation of Biz and IT: the view of IT will greatly impact how an IT-based EA effort will succeed or not. Is IT perceived as a necessary evil/expense center. Or is IT another think-tank/strategic partner that has a voice in activities like strategy development and project portfolio planning.

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