By William M. Ulrich, President, Business Architecture Guild & Dr. Richard Mark Soley, Chairman & CEO, Object Management Group
By some estimates, there are more than one million professionals worldwide classified as business or Information Technology (IT) architect collectively falling under the umbrella category of “Enterprise architect.” They can interpret and shape deployment of business strategies and directives, by crafting a wide range of business transformations, leading to better business decisions. Yet enterprise architecture as historically practiced has garnered a reputation as a “techie” discipline that business executives often dismiss or simply ignore, threatening to push the practice into irrelevancy. John Zachman of Zachman Framework fame puts it best when he says, “The business should be doing enterprise architecture, but they won’t so the information technology team has to.” Placing a technical stamp on enterprise architecture, deserved in part due to an historical emphasis on technology rather than business capabilities, has several downsides. When enterprise architecture is technology-driven and not business-driven, it constrains successful strategy deployment and business-driven transformation options. This limited perspective also results in wasted IT investments that often fail to deliver business value because there is no clear link between business strategy and those investments. In the worst-case scenario, poorly conceived IT investments manifest themselves as silo’ed, disconnected or even conflicted IT initiatives, even as strategic and priority business demands go unfulfilled. Disconnecting IT decisions from business structure is just as bad as disconnecting marketing decisions from product design, development and delivery. It just about guarantees failure. Shifting enterprise architecture’s emphasis from technology towards a business perspective requires business architecture to move to the forefront of the discussion. Business architecture enables management to drive strategy deployment, business priorities, portfolio management, initiative scope definition and investment planning from a business (versus a technical) perspective.
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