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The Strategic Value of Enterprise Architectures



CIOs are expected to run IT like a business. CFOs expect one of their biggest internal investments to produce returns that meet or exceed shareholder expectations. Enterprise Architects bridge these expectations into actionable architectures.

Enterprise Architecture (EA) has emerged as an area critical to deriving business value from IT investments. EA -- a method of defining and aligning the principal standards that comprise an organization’s technical, application, information, and business-process needs -- is no longer viewed as an esoteric concept that is too complex to implement. Nor is EA still erroneously associated strictly with information technology infrastructure. However, there remain a surprisingly large number of projects that fail to achieve the benefits of EA. Only 52% of such projects realize their intended strategic value. (Maizilish et. Al)

Think of EA as a bridge over troubled water, such as:

  • Silos of applications
  • Post-merger islands of automation
  • Service reps opening eight windows to answer a customer’s question
  • Managers scrounging for information they need to make decisions
  • The loudest voice winning IT project funding decisions

The river of cash flowing through many organizations is being dammed by IT strategies that are not aligned with business goals. EA spans the gap between business goals or strategies and IT resources and assets across the entire enterprise. A properly structured EA leverages an adaptive architecture to speed time-to-market, reduce IT costs, integrate business processes, and create a common standard for how all IT groups use, extend, and manage a company’s IT systems, processes, and people.

“In a world of rapid change, the Enterprise Architecture is real, has significant benefits, and is more important now than ever (Maizilish et. Al). EA is worth a C-level discussion. A high-level grasp of EA may go a long way toward finally achieving that business/IT alignment that always seems to be on the horizon. (CIO.com)

Progressive organizations realize Enterprise Architecture is not marketing hype or a buzzword. A solid EA methodology helps answer basic questions such as:

  • How can the company create a road map for change?
  • Is the IT portfolio adaptive, efficiently managed, and is it capable of supporting the organization’s strategic goals?
  • Could new or different technology, like Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), help reach business goals better, faster, and cheaper?

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