Enterprise Architecture is designed to ensure alignment between the business and IT strategies, operating model, guiding principles, and software development projects and service delivery. This article explains about Enterprise Architecture (EA) by their topic into Definition, Importance, and Benefits. EV is one of the fields that is more relevant than ever but is yet fighting for proving the value and viability.
An Enterprise Architecture (EA) translates business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by; creating, communicating and improving the essential requirements, principles, drivers, and models. That describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution. From narrow IT-oriented approaches (Enterprise IT Architecture or EITA) to more broad views; the scope, meaning, and importance of Enterprise Architecture vary.
The EA establishes the organization-wide roadmap to achieve the mission through optimal performance of its core business functions within an efficient information technology (IT) environment. Enterprise architectures are blueprints; they define the organization’s current (baseline) and desired (target) settings, and specify. The mechanisms to transform the enterprise to achieve target outcomes systematically.
Below are some of the enterprise architecture definition by some top thinkers and firms.
“A well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a comprehensive approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies. These practices utilize the various aspects of an enterprise to identify, motivate, and achieve these changes.”
Defined from an Information & Technology Perspective;
“Enterprise Architecture is explicitly describing an organization through a set of independent, non-redundant artifacts, explaining how these deliverables interrelate with each other and developing a set of prioritized, aligned initiatives and roadmaps to understand the organization, communicate this understanding to stakeholders, and move the team forward to its desired state.”
Defined from a Business Perspective;
“Enterprise Architecture illuminates how an organization and all of its members can achieve its objectives, through the creation of a series of engineered models and project initiatives, which can be easily understood by all of the people associated with the organization.”
An in-depth understanding of Enterprise Architecture is obtained if one considers its constituent words: “Enterprise” and “Architecture”. These are two words which while appearing simple enough to understand, require a thorough understanding of the context of Enterprise Architecture.
An enterprise defines by Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council as, “an organization or cross-organizational entity supporting a defined business scope and mission”. It consists of people, information, technologies that perform business functions, in a defined; an organizational structure that is distributed in multiple locations that respond to internal and external events and provide specific services to its customers.
In producing an output in the form of products and services, an enterprise as a whole move through various activities in a cyclic form. This refers to the enterprise life cycle. It is dynamic and iterative due to changes over time owing to the new business processes, technology advancement, capabilities, maintenance, disposition and re-use of existing elements of the enterprise.
The definition of “architecture”, and more specifically about enterprises or systems, is a lot more complicated. This makes all the more so, given that there exists no single agreed definition. Taking into account the general view of the composition of architecture itself. We are led to adopt the definition of Architecture according to ANSI/IEEE standard 1471-2000. This defines “architecture” as “the fundamental organization of a system embodied in its components. Their relationships with each other and the environment and the principles guiding its design and evolution”.
The definitions of EA emphasize EA as a framework and EA as a process for transforming an enterprise. The increasing pace of information technology has influenced the increased need for Enterprise Architecture. Adopting EA is the key to the survival of an enterprise due to the high rates of change and complexity in the world economy.
An enterprise that aspires to achieve its vision must be able to identify. Its current or as-it state and have a concrete plan on how to get to its target or to-be state. Without an appropriate communication method and tools, it can be challenging to communicate the vision of the enterprise.
However, EA depicts an enterprise current state and aspired future state with visual models making communication much easier and faster. Enterprise Architecture plays an important role in an organization. It is critical to the survival and success of the organization while enabling the organization to achieve the right balance between IT efficiency and business innovation.
Typically, EA helps to facilitate business success such as competitive advantage through the effective use of information management strategies and IT resources. Enterprise Architecture can use by a company to organize and structure. Its enterprise infrastructure providing stakeholders and system architects with appropriate architectural details.
Enterprise Architecture may, however, develop for a wide variety of reasons. EA develops for:
To ensure that the implemented enterprise aligns with management’s intent.
The connectivity and interoperability of business rules, processes, information flow, and interfaces are consistent across the organization.
Pushing towards a standardized IT portfolio based on the Technical Reference Model (TRM). Thus, creating a common organizational language.
Facilitating and managing improvement in all aspects of the enterprise.
Another important reason to consider EA adoption is the need for an organization to stay committed to her long term goals. The agility of an enterprise is dependent on a long-term implementation strategy using EA while short-term implementation creates a temporary illusion of an agile enterprise.
Therefore, EA is a mechanism to help her adopters remain focused on the achievement of long-term visions while providing a framework for managing everyday operational risks. To respond to the constant changes in business needs, a stable platform is needed to support enterprise operations.
The traditional approach to building an information system, by purchasing applications specifically for a department or a unit area; increases complexity, introduces redundancy and hinders the enterprise from growing. This knows as business silos. It is whereby individually the application functions effectively but when combine gives no foundation for execution of enterprise processes.
However, the introduction of EA into an enterprise process is a holistic approach taken to address the organization-wide application needs. With, a clear understanding of how each component relates to others both at the data, software and hardware levels of abstraction resulting in integrated silos architecture.
During the past few years, IT has not only affected ways in which organizations do business. Such as automating its processes but has extended to how customers, stakeholders and regulatory bodies interact with the organization.
However, Enterprise Architecture faces the re-engineering of the whole organization from all perspectives such as; users, systems, geographical location and mode of dispersion to improve the working processes in the organization. Using EA properly, an enterprise can get significant business and IT benefits:
The goal of Enterprise Architecture is to add business value to the organization and not only uses for the documentation of the processes, systems, and information that exist in the organization. The alignment of business and information technology strategy is a key issue in an organization based on the impact IT has on the overall organization.
In such an organization EA provides the fundamental technology and process infrastructure. IT develops the application, technology and data foundation necessary for the delivery of the needed integration and standardization while business defines the strategies. That use the capabilities that are in place.
Thus, the integration of business strategy with IT objectives is not only an IT issue but an organizational concern. Enterprise Architecture has been widely adopted by many private and government organizations to cope with ever-increasing complexity. It has been promoting as a key tool for the transformation and modernization of government institutions around the world.
This ensures the proper use and optimization of the organization’s technical resources in other to reduce costs while increasing their strategic agility. EA is not just a technology map but a strategy for the entire enterprise. Organizations such as UPS, Toyota Motor Marketing Europe, Dow Chemical Company have adopted EA to strategic areas such as; budget allocation, information sharing, performance measurement, and component-based architecture.
Also, EA uses as a management tool for aligning IT and business objectives concerning the current and future vision of an enterprise. As a tool, it helps stakeholders and business owners manage dynamic changes and challenges in a timely and cost-effective way.
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