7 Reasons Why Business Strategists—and even CEOs—Need to Know Their Chief Enterprise Architect

business leadersCIOs these days are really busy. One CIO put his busyness this way, “It is a changing technology landscape. Mobile, cloud, social, and big data are key priorities all at the same time”. For this reason, a second CIO said that his enterprise architect needs to be “the forward, business facing component for his IT organization”.  Given this, I believe that effective architects are connected to their business counterparts. This second CIO said his architect needs to be in fact so tied to the product and service roadmap that they can put impact the IT roadmap. For this reason, he said that he likes to pair his chief enterprise architect with his firm’s chief business strategist.

So if you are business strategist, you might be asking at this point why you should also want this relationship. The answer is simple, “running the business and changing it are not sequential but parallel pursuits…Managers need to compete for today and prepare for tomorrow with no letup on either front”. (Managing with Dual Strategies, Derek Abell, page 1). And while planning for today requires organization; planning for tomorrow quite often requires the opposite, reorganization. To deliver on this requirement, “organizations must do more than just change. They must transform. As technology’s role in business becomes ever more important, transformations will increasingly be underpinned by significant technology programs.” ( Getting Fit for Transformation, BCG Perspectives, Andrew Arcuri and Richard Helm).

Given this, I want to suggest that you should be connected with your enterprise architecture for 7 reasons. I will review each and see how much we can agree or not. By the way, do provide feedback on this post.

  1. Organizational design. Think about the impacts of blending two divisions and merging with another company. Each of these may sound like a business only action. But what is involved to make them reality? There are huge IT system and integration changes required just to get something like managerial reporting to work. According to Jeanne Ross, “Top performing companies define how they will do businesses and design the processes and infrastructure critical to current and future operations” (Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, Jeanne Ross, page viii).
  2. Taking costs out. Taking costs out can clearly happen at multiple layers of the organization. From a technology perspective, it can involve systems reduction. Or it can involve automating business capabilities to eliminate repetitive labor costs. For each of these, enterprise architecture can play a key role in delivering on the potential for cost reduction. But it should also be clear that building a simpler less costly architecture will take cost and risk out for your business.
  3. Beating the competition. I met a significant insurance company earlier in this year. They had determined that they needed a winning “customer experience” but this required them to fix their customer data so they could present predictive offers to their existing customers. This required them to work with their enterprise architect to fix their customer data and create new business capabilities around predictive analytics.
  4. Enable new capabilities. Increasingly people are seeing the Internet of Things (IoT) as allowing for manufacturing and consumer industries new system level products. Being able to predictively run a manufacturing facility is brand new and gets manufacturing workers off the consoles. And this is just one example of systems of systems opportunities that you should discuss with your enterprise architect.
  5. Drive greater business agility—Business strategies do not last as long as they used to and the problems of business are more and more difficult. This means that businesses need to respond more quickly. Jeanne Ross tells the story of one company where 80% of the company’s programming code was dedicated to linking disparate systems as opposed to creating new capabilities. Having architecture standards help, but the more-agile companies have something their competitors do not have–a higher percentage of their core business processes digitized. Your enterprise architect can clearly help you here.
  6. Drive better execution—Enterprises today need to enable more-productive employees, to get more out of their investments, and to have more of their strategic initiatives be successful. These organizations embed “technology in their processes so that they can efficiently and reliably executive the core operations of the enterprise. (Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, Jeanne Ross, page 2). MIT CISRs research has found that companies that “have digitized their core processes have higher profitability, experience faster times to market, and get more value out of their investments”.
  7. Drive more compelling business analytics. “Individually the applications work fine. Together, they hinder companies’ effort to coordinate customer, supplier, and employee or processes—they do not form a foundation for execution. And the company data, one of its most important assets, is patchy, error prone, and not up to date” (Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, Jeanne Ross, pg. 7). Clearly, enterprise architects can help you link together critical data that you need to create the compelling analytics that are needed to drive your business.

Parting remarks

There you have it. I have provided you with seven reasons for connecting with your enterprise architect. Hopefully, you are already dialing their number or inviting them to a meeting, or ensuring you see them the next time you practice “management by walking around”. They can help you work through your strategies. This is something that will be key to your go forward business success.

Additional Materials

How does data drive the data ready enterprise (an eBook)

Solution Page: Corporate Governance

Solution Page: Analytics

Maturity Assessment: Governance Maturity Assessment Tool

Blogs and Articles

CIOs: Have You had Your Annual Application Checkup?

IT Leadership Group Discusses Governance and Analytics

Good Corporate Governance Is Built Upon Good Information and Data Governance

Using COBIT 5 to Deliver Information and Data Governance

Twitter: @MylesSuer