In this context, we have analyzed four disruptive technology trends below, as well as their impact on the role of the enterprise architect.
Improving customer experience through the digitization of processes, i.e. their automation, is key to enhance customer journeys and offer new, more efficient services. This also concerns the move to an API-based architecture that facilitates exchanges and enables a real flexible architecture. At the same time, agile developments have become essential in organizations to adapt to changing market conditions.
With customer journey maps, enterprise architects can adopt an outside-in approach by mapping customer touchpoints to the organization and link them to internal business processes. By doing so, architects can envision the customer experience first, before modeling business processes. This approach is key to modernize existing processes, and subsequently automate customer journeys.
In the same way, enterprise architects will play a major role in the process of moving to an API-centric architecture because architects can precisely model data flows between applications, which will facilitate the integration.
Finally, enterprise architecture is moving towards an agile or a "just-in-time" architecture that continuously evolves as business needs change. In that context, enterprise architects will need to work in close hands with agile teams while sharing with them the company's overall vision and break silos between agile teams.
Data is now at the core of the company's strategy. It's about collecting, storing, organizing, and protecting data. But it is also about analyzing them to take advantage of their full value, as a mean to boost business innovation. This is one of the main challenge organizations have to face today, in addition to the compliance with the new European regulations on data protection (GDPR), as well as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Enterprise architecture provides clarity and ease of understanding in the multitude of data collected, processed and managed by the company. They create data dictionaries, map semantic models to build a business representation of data exchanges, but also to model existing databases in a logical way. Business data can then be tied to logical data so that architects can assess the impact of a business change to tackle continuous market changes.
Finally, thanks to a clear view of processes and applications processing data, it also speeds up compliance with GDPR and CCPA
Another trend - often associated with IOT – is “Digital Twin”. This new concept consists of creating a digital replica of a company in order to optimize its performance and associated processes. Digital twin uses real data to validate models, correct them and evolve them so organizations can improve the process of business transformation.
Enterprise architecture models, encompassing business, application and technology layers, can be enhanced with real data (through data mining). The analysis of these data, by using artificial intelligence for example, enables architects to identify gaps between theoretical models and real world and thus identify the areas of improvement or failure of the systems that were supposed to work correctly. This will ensure that strategy is executed at a minimum cost, while improving time to market.
Artificial Intelligence is of course not left out. There are low hanging fruits in artificial intelligence that companies can take advantage of such as voice recognition and intelligent chatbots. These applications using artificial intelligence release employees from doing repetitive tasks so that they can use their time more efficiently. In fact, Gartner predicts that 25% of customer service operations will use virtual assistants by 2020.
Artificial intelligence involves rethinking existing business processes. There are already many artificial intelligence technologies available such as voice recognition, or recommendations based on previous choices (e.g.: Netflix). By integrating these technologies into current business models, current processes have to evolve, especially the ones related to customer interactions. If companies were already digitizing their processes, it will now be necessary to consider artificial intelligence. In any case, enterprise architecture will facilitate this change by providing an overall strategic vision to decision makers that ranges from business planning to technology.
In this highly disruptive context, enterprise architects have to become a business partner who enables digital business transformation in their organization. This is the prerequisite to design the innovations of tomorrow. Enterprise architects must make strategic recommendations and assess business opportunities related to emerging technologies. Due to the nature of enterprise architecture, architects are able to evaluate the impact of business change to the systems of information. They can also build a whole new ecosystem, while demonstrating to the business the value generated by the connections between people, processes, applications, content and, more and more, the "things" in the Internet of Things - which goes far beyond purely technical or business aspects.