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Once upon a time there was a brave consultant who traveled to many companies across many distant lands. Even though the companies she visited were diverse in their pursuits, she encountered many a common theme. She would ask the same question to different business units within the same company and get terrifyingly different answers. She noted that meeting new strategic initiatives was a guaranteed scary proposition and that IT was viewed as that multi-headed monster better known as a bottleneck. Amazingly, information was almost never available at the right place to the right people at the right time, and if it was it really could not be trusted! To add insult to injury, no matter how hard the employees seemed to work they always seemed to be one step behind from where they needed to be.



Then one day this brave consultant came upon a company where IT was a strategic partner with the business supporting such amazing capabilities as portability, interoperability, and extensibility. IT value was completely justified; there was a sense of reduced risk and an unprecedented amount of flexibility in make, buy, and sourcing decisions. Employees in this company worked less, were more relaxed, and yet they managed to stay ahead of their peers in their market. How could this be? And it was that fateful day that she discovered the wonders of enterprise architecture!

Hmm...is this déjà vu?

Alas, if only the above narration were just a story! Unfortunately, this "story" is my experience and more than likely the experience of each and every one of you reading this article. Yes, it is true that a deliberate enterprise architecture can really transform the way a company does business. It can provide a strategic foundation that realizes the company's operating model, and can incorporate the necessary governance processes to ensure the continued alignment of the enterprise architecture with the operating model as it evolves.

Such claims of positive transformation are supported by numerous surveys conducted by reputed institutions such as Gartner, Infosys, Harvard Business School, etc., which show that companies with a well-articulated, deliberate enterprise architecture consistently outperform their peers who lack such an enterprise architecture by achieving higher profitability, better productivity, and lowered IT costs. All this sounds great, but unfortunately, have you ever heard of a free lunch? Veteran architects will undoubtedly attest to the fact that enterprise architecture is a complex undertaking that takes hard work and commitment from all levels of an organization, especially from the higher levels. The good news is that there is a broad base of knowledge to leverage in the field of enterprise architecture, most of which is encapsulated in well-known enterprise architecture frameworks such as TOGAF, Zachman, and others.

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