I have three related predictions for Enterprise Architects in 2012. Actually they are more like ongoing trends, but they are the ones that I think will be most relevant when making architectural decisions next year. All three could be summarized as a need to focus on environment as context, rather than enterprise.
Enterprise Architecture puts IT systems in the context of how IT supports business and management needs, and it places business processes and products in the context of the organizational structure, its strategies and capabilities. But enterprises don’t operate in isolation, and increasingly their architectures need to be defined in the context of the broader environment. I see three reasons for organizations to start architecting the enterprise in its environmental context in 2012:
- To evolve architectures that can weather extreme financial and economic crises. This will require architectures that are even more agile than today’s. It requires components that are quickly and easily re-combined to meet new demands, many of which can’t be anticipated. I predict that at the very least, architects will need to demonstrate that they recognize this need and that they know how to apply techniques that will shield the enterprise from environmental uncertainty.
- To adapt architectures to support the new approaches to marketing and pricing enabled by the Internet. This will require new pricing and marketing models, and architectures that support these new models. I predict that the enterprise will need to operate multiple marketing and pricing models, covering traditional macro-pricing and push-to-sell marketing, and, in parallel, to compete with micro-pricing and customer-driven selection.
- To allow enterprise architectures to interact securely with a myriad of self-contained apps. This will require new forms of application architecture that permit interaction with a huge variety of apps. I predict that the enterprise will move away from huge applications that provide a lot of functionality to an enterprise that provides the infrastructure and architecture that facilitates collaboration and self-organization of environmentally-sourced single-function apps.