Dec 142014

2015 is an anniversary year for Enterprise Architecture. It is 40 years since Richard Saul Wurman coined the phrase “Information Architecture” — in 1975. Information Architecture became Information Systems Architecture, and then Enterprise Architecture. I predict that enterprise architects will use this anniversary to reflect on the history of our discipline and its position within the organization structure.

For a long time, EA was firmly part of the IT department. More recently the EA team has been found as a stand-alone unit, independent of IT or business. 40 years on, EA will increasingly establish its role as a key member of strategic decision making, capability evolution and organizational change management.

To a certain extent, Enterprise Architects have operated in a silo, independent from other areas of the organization. Those other areas could both benefit from architectural insight and contribute to architectural understanding. In addition, EA teams have failed to reuse the analysis and outputs from other teams, such as business and process analysts, or ideas from organizational, business and operating models. I see that 2015 will bring the EA team into closer contact and greater collaboration with people from business analysis, strategy planning, business operations, and business value teams.

[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series.]


Roger Evernden

Roger Evernden is a Senior Consultant with Cutter Consortium's Business & Enterprise Architecture practice. He specializes in the highly practical use of EA to manage organizational transformation.


  3 Responses to “EA to Reflect On and Upgrade Its Role”

  1. avatar

    EA is mainly perceived as IT discipline and so far largely failed to establish Business Capability Evolution and organizational change. Why do think this going to change? Which blockers towards that goal do you perceive as diminishing?

    PS: As former Capability Manager, i fully agree with the notion, that your scenario is the desired target state. Yet my empiric evidence indicates organisations still prefer to treat symptoms rather than root causes. Preference of certain small, immediate benefits over uncertain larger and non-immediate benefits. Local over global optimisation. Expecting the whole to be the sum of parts.

  2. Thank you for your comments Peter. Your questions highlight a dilemma that enterprise architects have faced for years – how to get a pragmatic balance between two almost opposing perceptions about our discipline!

    One the one hand we have people who perceive EA to be a largely IT-based discipline, and this often goes hand-in-hand with a view that their role is simply to fix an immediate short-term problem. On the other hand there are those who believe EA to be about the big picture that puts local, short-term change into the broader long-term evolution of the architecture.

    Why do I think things are changing?

    Firstly decision makers are more aware of this dichotomy – they know when they really need EA, rather than treating architects as the latest incarnation of IT specialists. This is an important change; put simply it means that sponsors increasingly recognize that they shouldn’t employ architects to do IT work.

    The second point is that the scope of EA is getting wider and more complex as individual enterprises are dependent more and more on their social and environmental ecosystem. This has made it easier to architects to explain and justify their true role, which again is changing the nature of their engagements.

    In third place – architects used to struggle to the value they added. A common argument was that value only occurred when an architecture was delivered – meaning that there was no measurable value until the end of a project, and this might be a long way off in the future. Modern practice recognizes that the EA team add value throughout the strategy/execution cycle. [See, for example, my Cutter Executive Report on “Value, Benefits, Outcomes, Results, Returns, and Options: Justifying Architectural Overheads”]

    There are other changes, but these three changes are removing many of the blocks that prevented EA from truly leveraging its unique qualities to improve capabilities.

  3. […] last year I wrote a post on the Cutter Blog, entitled EA to Reflect On and Upgrade Its Role, as part of the Cutter predictions series. A recent comment asked said that “EA is mainly […]

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