Beginning Enterprise Architecture

I like Enterprise Architecture. But using the word ‘Like’ and ‘Enterprise Architecture’ in the same sentence seems ripe with skepticism given the current environment. Contradictory interpretations of Enterprise Architecture (EA) abound and has left a lot of people confused and indifferent to it. Several are doubtful of the future of EA adoption. Add this to the existing communication problem between the business and IT departments i.e., tech-speak. Like it or not, the onus lies heavily on IT professionals to go the extra mile to present technical information in a way that is relevant to the business. More so as outsourcing becomes the norm.

The Changing Role of IT Professionals

Those of us who survive the ‘selection process’ are expected to be less technical and more business-like, acting as correlators and translators of business strategies to technical design and vice versa. This is a significant albeit painful shift in perspective in an already change-driven environment. As for EA, in itself it is not a purely technical endeavor but it seems that it is in IT where the beginning waves are formed.

People Don’t Buy What They Don’t Understand

Realistically speaking, people only begin to like what they understand. As an occasional entrepreneur selling my pre-loved stuff on the Internet (e.g. eBay, Craiglist and other sites), I have learned this to be true. Examples: I know the value of having a photo vs. not having one in my ad listing – a good photo draws more views. I also know the value of a good product description – it helps to differentiate my ‘product’ and people may or may not buy but they leave a comment and respond to your email. I also know the value of timing my ad posts – I noticed that posting an ad around the weekend draws the least views. And I also know the value of targeting my stuff to a particular group as well as pricing appropriately – people are more responsive that way.

Doing these things have made me a few sales – yes, few but at least I do not go away frustrated by a lack of response the way I did when I first started out. They take more time but they promote better understanding which leads to interest which leads to a purchase and possibly a future- or cross-sell. Giving confusing information leads to page abandonment or no click-thru at all.

As it is for commodities, so it is for EA. Understanding begets liking OR not liking and the latter is better than utter indifference.

The Business Case for EA

The tragedy of EA appears to be the apathy surrounding it, especially on the part of business. Or is EA simply in the stage which Geoffrey Moore calls The Chasm? I.e., the dark adoption divide between technology enthusiasts and the mainstream majority. Or the adoption gap between visionaries and pragmatists. Until those who hold the purse strings are convinced and find enough financially rewarding reasons to start an EA program, it will be Business As Usual.

Can We Practice EA without an EA Program?

Without a corporate-sponsored EA program, can those of us who believe in the promise of EA practice EA? I believe we can still apply the principles of EA but on a smaller scale. In fact, this approach could be advantageous. Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm) proposes finding a niche, focusing on it and later on using its success as a reference point to convince the pragmatic (Early Majority) and conservative (Late Majority) adopters. To draw another parallel with my experience hawking second-hand stuff on the Internet, I usually put a ‘SOLD’ sign next to my ad listing after I’ve sold the item – it conveys validity and somehow trustworthiness which hopefully makes other viewers more comfortable to buy from me.

In this blog, I will be posting examples of how to use EA methods, small-scale. Watch the ‘EA in Practice’ category.

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Posted by rochelleolviga

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