Why Now is the Time to Embrace the Next Generation of Enterprise Architecture

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Today’s organizations often have more information at their disposal than they know what to do with. From products and apps to processes, departments, data, and more, there’s so much that should be considered every time a business takes on a new change project, considers a new solution, or begins a major digital transformation.

Before organizations embark on any of those journeys, they must understand how to get from their current state to where they ultimately want to end up. How do they get a rock-solid understanding of that current state? Well, that’s where good enterprise architecture comes in.

While there has always been value in prioritizing enterprise architecture, today’s digitally native tools are built with digital transformation in mind and can help organizations navigate everything from world disruptors like climate change, market fluctuations, and global pandemics, to more common disruptions like constant shifts in customer demographics and business objectives.

However, before understanding how next-gen enterprise architecture can help meet today’s most critical information challenges, we must discuss why enterprise architecture of any kind is worth the attention of business and IT leaders alike.

Paving the Way to the Future

Enterprise architecture was born three decades ago as a planning methodology to determine how best to deploy technology and resources in support of business strategy. The goal of enterprise architecture today is to bring about effective and measurable change, and Enterprise Architects (EAs) analyze and evaluate an organization’s business and IT capabilities in order to find ways to transition the company from where it is now to its desired future state.

That might sound straightforward, but if business leaders know exactly where they want to head (and how to get there), that organization is extremely lucky. More often than not, enterprise architecture also plays a role in helping organizations understand the impact of the potential future paths they’re considering. As part of that process, architects can help their colleagues understand the tradeoffs that would occur with each decision made and weigh the pros and cons. But static, old-school EA tools haven’t provided the flexibility, scalability and collaborative nature needed to model, predict, and prepare for the future; that’s where modern EA tools come in.

Next-Gen Business Challenges

EA tools of the past simply helped document future road maps, but today’s challenges require more than that. The shifts in business priorities that come from climate events, economic meltdowns, and technology disruptions can occur quickly within the timeframes of the roadmaps EAs set up. A path that was initially created with digitization and growth in mind can quickly need to become one focused on cost-cutting and retrenchment.

Those shifts demand a level of strategic agility that few EA teams are currently achieving—and that is partly due to the software and tools at their disposal. Agile teams are enabled by sophisticated tooling, and conventional EA tools haven’t been flexible enough to spin up and analyze disposable futures. Laborious governance processes are no match for the fast-paced, iterative, and even experimental approaches that come with agile change.

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