With digital transformation, companies face a tougher competition because customers have now endless possibilities to purchase products through online services. This trend affects the pace of innovation, and companies must find ways to reduce their time-to-market and adjust to the continuous changes of the market. Digital transformation requires IT departments to deliver value and drive innovation since most of the business projects are an IT project.
In the past, IT departments have always been regarded as cost centers catching up with business needs while minimizing costs. Many IT departments had difficulties to plan the evolution of their applications and infrastructure based on the needs of the business. They were also asked to quickly undertake new projects, but they often lacked visibility into their IT systems and could not assess the impact of change into their landscape.
Nowadays, with a strong economy, IT departments need to support above all the business growth. They must properly align their resources and their efforts to the business to support innovation. What’s new is that IT should also help identify new opportunities with the business.
Gartner’s annual global survey of CIOs in 2017 indicated that the CIO role is transitioning from delivery executive to business executive, from controlling cost and engineering processes, to driving revenue and exploiting data.
By adopting an Enterprise Architecture practice, IT departments can be more proactive in helping the business develop new opportunities.
The first step consists of mapping business capabilities and then engage with the business to refine their needs, e.g. how this capability should evolve in the next three years? Is this capability for new customer segments? Also, capabilities can be tied to the touchpoints of a customer journey map to provide an extra visibility into how capabilities support the customer experience.
As an example, we can imagine a large bank that decides to develop a home mortgage application to improve its loan capability. The customer experience of using this new app can also be analyzed through the mapping of a customer journey.
After engaging with the business to understand how the loan capability should be transformed, the capability will be incorporated into the business roadmap, and tied to a business objective. The transformation of this capability will lead to one or multiple strategic projects with a start date and an end date. Strategic projects can also be prioritized based on relevant criteria and monitored using specific KPIs. IT leaders can then plan the development of new IT assets that effectively support business capabilities and the related projects.
The analysis of business needs through business capabilities can also lead to the decommissioning or the upgrade of some applications in the IT landscape that are no longer efficient or relevant to the business. This can be achieved by analyzing the IT Portfolio under multiple perspectives such as the application lifecycle, the processes supported by the application, the application business value, and the obsolescence of the underlying technology components supporting the application.
After achieving all these steps, Enterprise Architects can contribute to build an improved IT roadmap that efficiently and proactively support business needs to better plan future IT investments.
In the digital age where almost every new business project is an IT project, IT departments have to proactively take part in the definition of new opportunities with the business, and not simply “keep the lights on”. By using Enterprise Architecture, IT departments can capture business needs through a business capability approach. They can engage with the business to understand how IT assets support the transformation of business capabilities, and build an IT roadmap that efficiently support the transformation of the business.