For almost four years now, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting the #CIOChat forum on Twitter and LinkedIn. Launched in 2006, the #CIOChat forum is one of the largest online forums for CIOs across the globe.
In recent #CIOChat discussions, this group of CIOs has been exploring the importance of establishing a strategy for enterprise architecture. Too often, IT architecture grows in fits and starts, accommodating this or that business requirement or department initiative.
CIOs recognize the risks of this ad hoc approach. To counter this challenge, the CIOs say enterprise architects can play a critical role in driving IT strategy and holistic adoption across an organization.
But regardless of who leads the effort, the members of the #CIOChat identified five best practices for building enterprise IT architectures.
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1. Enterprise architecture needs to be strategic, not ad hoc
This is the critical first step in making any improvements. Executives and the IT organization should work together to identify the organization’s goals for digital transformation. Once identified, these goals should drive any major investments in architecture.
As one CIO put it, “In mature digital organizations, the architecture demonstrates the organization’s capabilities. It’s never accidental.”
2. Design your architecture with change in mind
If your enterprise architecture isn’t changing, your business is dying.
Architectures need to be able to evolve quickly to support new business initiatives, partners, products, services, and technologies, such as cloud and IoT. These new aspects of your business will drive business transformation.
For your organization to respond successfully to these changes, you need to build adaptability into your IT architecture and make sure your IT organization has the tools it needs to adapt to rapid change.
3. Don’t confuse agile with ad hoc
Doing something quick and dirty usually leads to spaghetti code. The quick fix turns into a long slog that slows the organization down.
In contrast, a well-designed architecture enables the organization to act quickly, whether that action involves standing up a new cloud application, integrating critical business services or implementing some other IT change. True agile development leverages the strengths of the organization rather than undermining them.
4. Recognize the importance of culture
Digital transformation is much more than a technical to-do list. It’s a wholesale transformation of the organization or, at least, parts of the organization.
To be successful, it requires support from leadership and adoption by the rank and file. In other words, digital transformation is both technical transformation and cultural transformation.
If you treat culture as an afterthought, you will fail. As one CIO noted, “Digital Transformation is, first and foremost, a cultural change in the business rather than any IT initiative or ‘shiny object.'”
5. A successful architecture integrates IT operations with business operations
In a well-designed architecture, IT and business work together hand-in-glove. They’re not proceeding down parallel paths. Investments in IT directly benefit the business, and business guides the investments in IT.
Enterprise architects play a key role in helping organizations follow these best practices.
Enterprise architects, with their knowledge of both business requirements and cutting-edge technologies, can ensure that the organization makes smart investments in IT to meet short-term business requirements while also enhancing the organization’s overall agility, connectivity and efficiency.
Boomi has published, “The Transformative Enterprise Architect.” It explains the central role that enterprise architects play in building strategic IT architectures for creating connected businesses. Get the ebook today!
About the author: Myles Suer is Dell Boomi’s enterprise marketing manager.
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