All has been said – and nearly as much not said – about EA: it’s good, it should be here vs. there in the organization, it’s dead, it does not exist, it’s only about IT, it’s a support process, it’s all about frameworks, no it’s not... It’s changing slowly / quickly… To the point that you may wonder whether all this is just a myth.
Are there enterprise architects (EAs) that deliver business value somewhere? If so, can they speak up at last and simply let us know how they’ve succeeded? 25 years later (Dear John, if you read this, this is a tribute to you and happy 80th birthday coming soon!), the purpose of EA is still being passionately debated at length. Again and again. LinkedIn and other forums fill up with group members animating sterile conversations about EA, what-it-is-what-it-is-not-what-it-should-be-but-can’t, stepping back five steps each time a discussion title gives a hint of a step forward.
But… You may have come across this recent article entitled “Is Enterprise Architecture Completely Broken?” written by Jason Bloomberg for Forbes in their Technology channel in July 2014. Does this sound like yet another article beating around the bush? Well no: in short, it starts reminding us of this other blog post “What would you say you do here?” which can be applied to how enterprise architects’ value is perceived, and tells us that, as enterprise architects are likely to be willing to deliver business value, they need to reinvent their role, disentangle from and look way beyond useless documentation and frameworks, seize game-changing opportunities and get closer to business stakeholders… Sounds like something we’ve heard quite often over the past 25 years… However the funniest quote of Jason’s article must be, “Ironically, people have been able to achieve this level of contribution, but often don’t identify themselves as EAs.”
So going back to the initial question, the reason why MEGA is and remains an undisputed leader in this market is twofold: for a long time we have understood that stakeholders outside the traditional EA target also need solutions from us, and we help EAs reinvent their role to best serve the business.
As you can see, the answer is not “we support this new framework,” or “we provide this feature”. Instead, we listen to our customers and help them reach and explore those areas of their enterprise transformation that require insight and differentiated skills.
Front-office processes and systems of engagement, vs. back-office ones
For example, today’s enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives clearly distinguish how front-office engagement activities and back-office record keeping activities should evolve. Mobile, digital customers insert themselves into the heart of the enterprise’s processes and systems of engagement, where they are able to discover and eventually – hopefully – purchase products and services.
Once the purchase decision is made and enacted, customers are put in touch with back-office enterprise processes and systems of record that ensure the corresponding transaction is managed end-to-end.
Obviously, the two families of processes and systems need to be integrated, but they also require different approaches and skills from enterprise architects: systems of engagement are more likely to affect the enterprise image and attractiveness, and more likely to require agility, while back-office systems need flexibility to now support both classical and digital processes at once.
To shape, reshape and reinvent organizations, offerings, operating models and systems in the digital era, enterprise architects are expected to provide insight and decision support, and tie back to strategic directions (much more than they were expected to when using modeling techniques to meet past challenges). Modeling for the sake of modeling is no longer relevant or acceptable. If creating models is the goal of a particular EA program, then that EA program is most certainly broken. Enterprise architects need to create the means for decision support, which explains why the barycenter of their competencies is changing drastically. We at MEGA have understood that, and rebuilt our vision accordingly. Not only do we deliver innovative solutions for EAs (such as business architecture), but we also support business stakeholders’ decision analytics.
Reinventing EA practitioners’ roles has lead us to reinvent ourselves and to invest in different, complementary directions that deliver business value. This is the reason why, we think, we remain an Enterprise Architecture market leader.