The Future of Enterprise Architecture

The question I’m asking myself today is, is there a future in Enterprise Architecture?

That’s a tough question, I admit. And the answer seems fairly clear on both sides.

OF COURSE, there’s a future. Companies need specialists who can shape their organization to match their business goals. Just like airlines will always need people who understand aerodynamics, companies need people who understand what is important to accelerate success, and what is getting in the way and causing drag. The role is absolutely critical for large companies.

BUT we live in a time of agile development. We can’t sit back and wait months to execute on plans. If a company sees an opportunity in a new space, it needs to be able to quickly enter that market and establish some type of operation. It can’t wait one or two years for the next ADM cycle to start before deciding to improve it’s customer onboarding to increase retention.

The solution, then, is that companies need to focus on speed as a capability. Giving business units the capability to operate quickly in changing markets, and putting processes in place to ensure those business units operate in-line with the overall business goals.

In essence, it turns the enterprise architect role into establishing strong business problem-solving ability in smaller business units and ensure the business supports that, as opposed to trying to solve these business problems in one and two year cycles.

We see a similar trend in the fashion industry. Fast Fashion is something that has emerged in the past 10 years or so. Fashion trends move quickly from the runway to the stores. If a style or a look becomes trendy, you can expect to see those styles on sale quickly instead of waiting 6-9 months for it to work its way through the traditional “design, planning, manufacturing, shipping, distribution” stages.

Unfortunately, TOGAF has not yet evolved to meet this new “fast business” world that we live in. There seems to be a strain between the two worlds. There will always be the “big centralized” model that absolutely does not want or need “fast business” and has no incentive to move off these long cycles that make every move slow and deliberate. Meanwhile, many companies (including behemoths like Microsoft and Amazon) realize the need to be quicker to market with innovative products and are not worried about things being a little bit broken or imperfect because they can be fixed.

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