Taking Traditional Enterprise Architecture Into The Digital Age
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Taking Traditional Enterprise Architecture Into The Digital Age

Taking Traditional Enterprise Architecture Into The Digital Age


Businesses wanting to stay competitive in today’s customer-focused economy have to abandon the rigid enterprise-architecture management practices of the past and adopt a new approach that allows for elements of enterprise architecture to be changed rapidly.

That’s the view of McKinsey digital consultants, Oliver Bossert and Jurgen Laartz, who termed this new approach “perpetual evolution”. In their report “Perpetual evolution – the management approach required for digital transformation”, they say that this shift in enterprise architecture methodology can help traditional companies to keep pace with digital-born competitors.

According to Bossert and Laartz, one of the main reasons established companies can’t move as quickly as their Internet competitors, is because they are limited by the underlying design and management of the technology platforms and capabilities that support their company’s business strategies.

“The enterprise architecture in traditional companies typically reflects a bygone era, when it was not necessary for companies to shift their business strategies, release new products and services, and incorporate new business processes at hyperspeed.

“Consider that until this decade, mobile devices, the Internet of things, and big data and analytics platforms weren’t crucial for competing in the marketplace. Companies did not have an acute need to continually infuse new IT-enabled business capabilities into their operations. They do now,” they explain.

For example, while it can take bricks-and-mortar retailers or traditional enterprise software companies weeks or even months to make changes to their operations or update their products, their digital competitors can make equivalent changes in days, or even hours.

Perpetual evolution emphasises continual change to and modular design of business capabilities as well as the technologies behind them, thus offering traditional companies a very different approach to designing and managing enterprise architecture.

The perpetual evolution approach is said to encompass a range of widely known enterprise architecture frameworks, but links them together in a new way.

6 differentiators

An enterprise architecture stack built for perpetual evolution differs from a traditional one in six important ways:

  1. Business operations
  2. * Traditional: Focus on product- or service-centred processes.
  3. * Perpetual evolution: Focus on customer-centric journeys.
  1. Business capabilities
  2. * Traditional: Reliance on one operating model.
  3. * Perpetual evolution: Use of multiple operating models (working at different speeds).
  1. Business applications
  2. * Traditional: Emphasis on interdependency.
  3. * Perpetual evolution: Emphasis on decoupling applications.
  1. IT integration platform
  2. * Traditional: Use of heavyweight bus – a connection layer that contains most of the business logic (or rules of computing).
  3. * Perpetual evolution: Use of lightweight connections.
  1. Infrastructure services
  2. * Traditional: Software development managed centrally.
  3. * Perpetual evolution: Software developers and IT operations jointly build new products and features (DevOps).
  1. Information and communication technology
  2. * Traditional: Managed as precious asset.
  3. * Perpetual evolution: Managed as commodity.

“The enterprise architecture in traditional companies typically reflects a bygone era.”

In order to shift to the newer approach, the authors state that companies will have to unburden themselves not only of their legacy business processes, but also their legacy mind-sets by:

  • Freeing up development teams from unnecessary dependencies.
  • Being consistent and focusing on change across all areas of the enterprise architecture.
  • Breaking down silos …
  • … but maintaining a strict separation of the platform team from other teams.
  • And finally, recognising that transformation of enterprise architecture must be an ongoing process.

In addition, these changes would have to be managed systematically across all elements of the technology stack, with companies no longer regarding each element as a separate system or capability, but rather as a critical interconnected component of the architecture.

Source: www.itweb.co.za by Marilyn de Villiers

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