The technological innovations of today are a matter of course tomorrow. The technological innovations of tomorrow are not known today. Organizations have to find a way to deal with the constant stream of technological innovations. Enterprise architecture provides a way of bringing together different developments.
Bringing architectural thinking to new developments such as Agile, Cloud, big data, social media or whatever is next, enables organizations not only to adopt new technologies and solutions but to create real business value from them. This requires, however, active application of architectural thinking. Unfortunately, research indicates that architecture is quite successful in providing insight to organizations, but is less successful in translating these insights into business value. This is illustrated by the outcomes of a survey we held, with 293 respondents.
From: Foorthuis, R., Steenbergen, M. van, Mushkudiani, N., Bruls, W., Brinkkemper, S. and Bos, R.l. (2010), On Course, But Not There Yet: Enterprise Architecture Conformance and Benefits in Systems Development, Proc. of the 31st International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), 1-19, St. Louis.
In the survey the respondents are asked about the extent to which architecture is a good instrument to achieve certain goals. The answers available are ‘very bad’, ‘bad’, not good, not bad’, ‘good’, ‘very good’ and ‘no answer’.
74.1% of the respondents indicate that, in their organization, architecture is a good or very good instrument to provide insight into the complexity of the organization. However, only 29.4% indicate that architecture is a good or very good instrument to control the complexity of the organization. In the same vein we see a large gap between depicting a clear image of the desired future situation (71.9%) and actually controlling costs (13.4%). There appears to be a substantial gap between knowing and acting.
My personal experience as principal consultant enterprise architecture supports these research outcomes. I encounter many architectural teams that are more concerned with methodologies and getting mandates than with providing value to, and in collaboration with, the organization. This fuels my conviction that we need a paradigm shift in order to make architecture effective. A shift consisting of a number of changes.
In my next posts I will elaborate on these necessary changes.