IT’s EA problem

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Creating a robust EA roadmap is hard – small wonder it often just doesn’t get done

Enterprise Architecture (EA) roadmaps are the living, breathing strategic blueprints for IT organizations – and executives should know that. Unfortunately, just as many IT and business professionals routinely forget the criticality of good, clean data for their ERP ecosystem – they seemingly lack an appreciation for the importance of EA.

Maybe execs indeed do not appreciate its value, but there is a more basic hurdle: formulating a good EA roadmap is just plain hard.

Developing it the right way requires engagement at the highest levels, including CxO sponsorship and continuous engagement from business. The gaps that need to be filled often start and end with your business counterparts – trying to piecemeal an EA strategy without including capability and business process models is a non-starter.

IT execs spend inordinate time and effort trying to partner with business. Much of this time is spent on the defensive – after all, what does IT understand about end-customer needs? While this may be an unfair stereotype, the lack of a coherent EA roadmap allows it to stick – even when the actual issue may be constraints on the business side of the house.

If the above mirrors the state of your organization, you may want to start thinking seriously about how to evangelize EA.

Even better, if you are an exec either with the mandate to implement EA or simply seeking to energize an existing initiative, here are some useful tactics:

Develop basic use cases. Have your team develop a couple of powerful use cases to show the end-to-end impact of a well-articulated EA strategy. Even if you haven’t worked on an update to the capability model yet, your organization’s critical business capabilities should be well understood. Leverage their linkage to other EA components and try to demonstrate the broader impact. For instance, delivering a desired level of digital customer experience brings together elements from marketing, sales, customer care, and field service. Would EA easily expose these inter-dependencies?

Create a modular business case. Quantify the benefits, even for ostensibly qualitative metrics. You will need to push boundaries. As a hypothetical: If an EA strategy would have led you to adopt Salesforce or leverage Hadoop in 2015 instead of 2017, what is the estimated opportunity cost of not having done so? The same reasoning can be applied to a clear and present decision such as leveraging cloud native apps.

At first, keep it simple. Trying to strictly follow Togaf or another EA standard may delay acceptance and adoption. Standards are an imperative as you climb the maturity curve, but a strict interpretation can be a stumbling block during inception. Proving out the value should be the priority.

The above is not the endgame, just your starting gambit. The benefits of EA cannot be overstated. It underpins all other functions in IT: infra can have a more evolved discussion with the CEO on cloud-first strategy, the security team can move beyond reactive strategies, and the applications team can finally become an equal partner with business in customer-centric areas such as digital sales and marketing.

So yes, there may not be an obvious burning platform, such as driving cost reductions; and yes, it can be challenging to create, but a solid EA roadmap can benefit your organization in ways you may not even anticipate.

Navjit Gill is a Strategy and Transformation expert and works at the confluence of business and technology for some of our biggest clients in North America. You can contact him at navjit.gill@capgemini.com.

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