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How can we define Enterprise architecture (EA) of an enterprise
Jul. 12, 2017 01:15 AM
The purpose of enterprise architecture is to be able to consciously design an enterprise rather than allowing it to happen randomly and unconsciously. It is worth noting that it implies knowledge of a certain intended outcome or desired state in mind.
Enterprise architecture (EA) is a discipline that enables designing the enterprise consciously and deliberately, rather than letting it happen randomly. EA design is informed by business vision, strategic intent, and insights on the functioning of the enterprise. So the purpose of enterprise architecture is to be able to consciously design an enterprise rather than allowing it to happen randomly and unconsciously. It is worth noting that it implies knowledge of a certain intended outcome or desired state in mind. This is usually referred to as the target state. The target state is defined in terms of the attainment of certain capabilities and fulfillment of certain milestones.
The other aspect of EA definition is about what informs our concept of a desired target state, which the definition clarifies to be a business vision, strategic intent, and insights. Vision and strategic intent implies a top-down holistic view of the enterprise and a good understanding of the direction that the enterprise wants to move in. It is important to note that while the vision and mission of an enterprise are usually static, strategy and strategic objectives continually evolve in response to the emerging business scenarios. The insights part of the definition represents the knowledge and understanding of the working of the enterprise and how various capabilities, resources, and components that the enterprise relies on to deliver business value.
Enterprise architecture provides various frameworks (TOGAF, Zachman), tools, viewpoints, and perspectives to first comprehend the enterprise in its current state and also to consciously design and articulate target state enterprise that best meets its vision, mission, and strategic objectives. It also involves road-mapping the journey to the target state. That stated, it is important to note that the outcome of the result of enterprise architecture is not merely a repository of artifacts, but the introduction of real change within the enterprise which is in alignment with its strategic objectives and tactical priorities. The KPI of enterprise architecture is therefore the positive impacts resulting out of these changes and the achievement of strategic objectives. While enterprise architecture involves creating many artifacts in the course of the architecture work, the purpose of architecture will not be met unless these artifacts influence and guide how the enterprise evolves and changes. To this end, enterprise architecture work involves not only documentation, but also active involvement and collaboration across the enterprise capabilities and stakeholders.
Enterprises are complex adaptive systems where a complex adaptive system is defined as systems that are characterized by complex behaviors that emerge as a result of non-linear interactions in space and time among a large number of component systems at different levels of organization. That is a view of the enterprise arrived at by breaking it down into smaller units of organization may be useful in comprehending each individual part and how they fit into the larger whole, but it will not lead to a holistic understanding of the enterprise itself. To use an analogy, for example, if you get two cars, one from UK and the one from US, and break it apart and understand it in terms of their components, that analysis might answer some questions about the functioning of these cars, but that analysis alone will not tell you why one has the steering wheel on the left side and the other has it on the right side. An automobile is not just a sum of its parts. If it was so, hypothetically you can replace each individual component of an automobile with the best components in the world, and you could end up with the best engineered automobile in the world. But we all know that if we do that, we probably will end up with a lot of junk on our hands. The complexity of a complex adaptive system emerges from the inter-connectivity, interactions, and inter-relationships among the components, which is very true in the case of an enterprise. Hence, the enterprise architecture discipline incorporates both atomistic and holistic view of the enterprise.
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