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Enterprise Architecture: The Key to Unlocking the Value of Convergence

- May 8, 2015 - 1 Comment

Last week, I had the opportunity to present at the DGI Enterprise Architecture Conference & Expo. Specifically, I spoke about enterprise architecture’s role in the convergence of big data, mobility and cloud. Emerging technologies can provide tremendous value to public sector organizations, but these organizations need Enterprise Architecture to transform IT services and deliver operational success and mission outcomes.

According to Gartner, Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a discipline that delivers value to organizations by presenting business and IT leaders with recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve target business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions. The EA process maps business requirements to the IT capabilities needed to support them, and investments to the value delivered by IT services and their underlying systems, infrastructure and technology.

EA is crucial for organizations looking to capitalize on innovative technology and business opportunities, like the Internet of Everything (IoE) and digitization. Less than one percent of the world’s devices are connected today, but IoE and digitization have the world on the edge of an explosion of connectivity that has the potential to provide enormous value to the public sector. It’s estimated that IoE is a $4.6 trillion global opportunity for public sector organizations over the next decade.

As the number of connected devices and “things” grows, the amount of data produced will increase too. From 2012-2020, the amount of data created is projected to double every 2 years. All this data creates complexity, especially when it comes to transforming that data into valuable information for decision makers. This complexity, along with new business models and strategies, is driving IT transformation. EA can help simplify things and manage the data so that organizations can capture the potential business value of IoE and digitization.

Enterprise architects also need to look at business transitions that are occurring. Trends such as globalization, new opportunities for growth and productivity, and increased security and regulatory compliance are all things to consider. To be successful, architects need to be at the intersection of business and technology, identifying architectures to support specific strategies for their organizations to achieve the business outcomes they want and need.

Most IT departments are confronted with a common set of challenges in the face of these trends. Data center infrastructure and networks have become increasingly complex. As size increases, there is a greater drain on IT resources, resulting in decreased agility and security challenges. Further, rapidly-evolving business needs create the requirement to scale resources up or down dynamically in seconds, not months or hours. IT budgets are not growing to keep pace with these new requirements. Agency IT departments are increasingly running into budget restraints that could limit what they can accomplish. The right architecture strategy can alleviate performance issues, simplify operations and offer the flexibility to adapt when necessary, all within budget.

Organizations’ IT must evolve to address both market and technology transitions. EA can help harness IoE convergence to lower costs, increase efficiencies and improve citizen services. It can also help organizations manage many more devices on their networks. EA is the glue between people, process, data and things. For government agencies, effective EA requires organizational awareness and an understanding of what is working and what is not. It is impossible to achieve a desired future state without organizational awareness.

So how does your organization leverage EA to support business transformation efforts that take advantage of these disruptions? Follow this checklist:

  1. Consult with both IT and business leadership. EA sits at the intersection of business and technology, and needs to be involved with both sides from the start.
  2. Understand your desired outcomes and define your to-be environment. Do this before digging into your current state to avoid being influenced by current investments, capabilities and limitations.
  3. Assess and map your organization’s current IT environment.
  4. Make a journey map that shows how to get from your current state to your desired to-be environment.
  5. Implement architecture changes, and continue to iterate and adapt to align your IT infrastructure with your business goals.

The last piece of advice I have is don’t be afraid to fail – with risk comes reward. That said, be deliberate in your planning and consider the risks prior to implementation and seek to unlock the value of connections while protecting your organization from new threats.

Find out how Cisco is supporting the federal government’s Enterprise Architecture initiative

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1 Comments

  1. I do many EBC's to Cisco customers on collaboration and begin each EBC with the importance of EA and that IT must speak with business leadership to understand their goals and create a collaboration strategy that will meet those goals. I'm surprised at how many customers don't have a formal EA process or IT has to guess at the business needs and sell the technology, which leads to band-aid fixes instead of driving to a desired end state. Collaboration is all about teamwork, bringing people together to meet a common goal. It's a natural fit with Enterprise Architecture