IT is an important subject for any organization and it becomes increasingly interwoven with business operations. The information should be accessible for any relevant person and it should be structured logically, so that everyone in an organization relies on the same, up-to-date information and is able to use it efficiently. Structuring business information is also referred to as enterprise architecture.
How Does Enterprise Architecture Add Value?
IT should be connected to a functional process in the organization. This is necessary for organizations to be efficient and for IT to generate value. The market a company operates in should also be taken into account for enterprise architecture.
In order for enterprise architecture to be effective, a company must be agile. The word “agile” is popular in the business world and it is bandied about frequently. However, agility is crucial in this article; it does not appear in this context, because it sounds interesting. To illustrate, enterprise architecture tools provide an opportunity to respond to inefficient and ineffective situations, but organizations must be able to benefit from these opportunities, before the relevance of an action has already passed.
For the IT architecture to be effective, it should be between centralized and decentralized. The enterprise architecture should manage changes in the architecture, but input by other employees should be appreciated. As a result, opportunities in the environment can be consumed.
Architectural centralization requires sharing knowledge, uniformity and standardization. Because randomly sharing knowledge could result in organizational chaos, it should be accompanied by the other two requirements (uniformity and standardization). Standardization of enterprise architecture can involve the process level, IT level and data level. In this, IT can be considered the bridge between data and process.
Balance between Centralization and Decentralization
To apply and appropriate balance between centralization and decentralization, the information pyramid can be implemented. This approach is developed by Aloys Kregting, who was entitled as CIO of the year twice. The pyramid presents questions that arise when changes in the architecture are proposed. The bottom layer represents requirements that must be met for the idea to be implemented.
The bottom layer of the pyramid is related to governance and involves leadership and organizational structures that are fundamental for the attainment of primary organizational goals. The second layer concerns the roles of employees and the behavioral adaptations that are necessary for the proposed architectural change. The subsequent layer represents data matters, such as key performance indicators. In the top layer Kregting referred to IT systems by which employees are supported. A proposal for change should correspond with the primary organizational objectives. If a requirement relates to one of the higher levels, without meeting a lower level, the implementation of the architectural change is suboptimal.
Two Views on IT
Gartner, a consultancy company, initiated the distinction between two modes of IT. The first mode concerns security and accuracy, whereas the second mode concerns innovation, which is less structured. Additionally, mode 2 requires agility. Mode 1 is related to non-distinctive IT: products and services are not directly influenced by it. And example of a mode 2 process is employee skills management. In mode 2, IT is part of products and services and serves as a competitive weapon. For instance, the customer journey could be a mode-2 aspect.
The Importance of Enterprise Architecture
Enterprise architecture provides guidance for organizations. It could be part of strategy, tactics and operations. Especially for IT companies, it can be effective to apply the bimodal view. Every action should add value to the business.
In conclusion, IT architecture should allow members of an organization to process information and contribute to the architecture, applications and processes. Information should be available to individuals in the organization to whom it is relevant. Also, organizations should distinguish between the two modes of IT. If these recommendations are executed, organizations will reap the benefits of enterprise architecture.
About the Author
Rianne Koopmans is a graduate in International Business Administration. In 2019 she will start her Master’s program in Digital Business. Currently, she is working as an online marketeer and is predominantly occupied with link building and web development.