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InfoQ Homepage News Gartner: Out of Necessity, Enterprise Architecture Begins to Align Closer with Business

Gartner: Out of Necessity, Enterprise Architecture Begins to Align Closer with Business

In a recent report, Gartner revealed that only 9% of Enterprise Architecture (EA) endeavors are done in partnership with the business side of an organization. While the percentage of collaborative projects is expected to increase to 30% by 2016, to some this is still an alarmingly low level of involvement by EA teams who run the risk of being bypassed when business groups make technical decisions.

Many saw Gartner’s results as indicative of EA’s failures to serve its primary purpose which is to describe the architecture of the enterprise in order to increase the effectiveness of the business. Joe McKendrick is concerned that even if 30% of projects in 2016 are collaborations between the business and IT, this still means that the majority of EA efforts are IT-centric. eBizQ is hosting a discussion on this topic and the responses consistently decry the confusion about the role of EA and the missed opportunities for both EA and business counterparts to work together to realize business objectives in a way that will optimize the existing enterprise IT strategy. If EA departments cannot fulfill the role of trusted advisor to the business, they run the risk of being marginalized resulting in stalled IT optimization efforts.

However, the picture is not entirely bleak. Multiple factors have contributed to the acceleration towards a more business-integrated EA team. Gartner cites the business’s increased capability to make independent technology decisions, management pressure on EA teams to deliver tangible business value, and the growing CIO opinion that IT strategies should align with business priorities.

Alex Cullen of InfoWorld points out a recent Forrester study that highlights the increased support for EA programs when they have an active business architecture discipline. This trend is reinforced by early submissions to the Forrester/InfoWorld 2011 Enterprise Architecture Awards. Cullen says:

I've talked with pharmaceutical firms that report crafting a much more blended business/IT operating model, a telecom firm whose EAs help business understand the scope of business transformation programs, and a manufacturer where the EA team is helping the business to understand how to utilize existing capabilities when venturing into new business areas or geographies.

The movement towards a more business-integrated IT department is was also clearly evident in last year’s Enterprise Architecture awards. The winning companies shared a number of characteristics that led to their success. Enterprise Architects at both Barclay’s Bank and Discover Financial Services have significant input into project portfolio management and can help prioritize projects and ensure compliance with a greater architectural vision. According to Barclay’s, EA teams that can effectively collaborate with diverse business stakeholders such as finance, planning and operations have a greater chance of success. Each of the winning EA groups appeared to have strong mandates to pursue their endeavors but it seems clear that if they had stumbled in their efforts, they would not have retained their influential position.

The EA discipline will likely look much different in 2016 than it does today as more EA programs move away from IT-only initiatives and become more entrenched in the business domain.

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