Evolving EA to Architect the Business
What is the proper scope of Enterprise Architecture (EA)? Literally interpreted, one would expect it to be either specifically about the architecture of an entire enterprise, or generally about architecture in the enterprise context. Historically though, the roots of Enterprise Architecture are in the IT function, and thus for most of the EA community, EA means an enterprise-wide perspective on an organization's IT assets and capabilities.
The compelling need for IT to "align with the business" has led many in the EA community to look beyond IT as the primary focus of enterprise-wide architectural thinking. One of the most commonly adopted models simply partitions the enterprise into IT and "the business", and posits a business architecture that shapes the IT architecture. In this model, the business architecture is usually a given in that it is less designed than discerned, and the implementation consequences of EA initiatives occur almost entirely in the IT domain. In more ambitious models, the business is itself something to be actively architected, and EA initiatives not only change the way IT supports the business, they change the way the business is structured and operates.
Both these models raise questions that are being widely debated. Is modeling the enterprise as "IT and the business" perhaps overly simplistic? What is "the business" such that it has an architecture? What does a business architecture specify? Is the way the IT community thinks and talks about architecture appropriate for or meaningful to the business community? If not, how do we engage with the business community? Do architects from the IT community have the right skills and knowledge to architect the business? What skills and knowledge are necessary to architect the business?
During the Open Group Conference, London 2011, we will explore these questions in plenary sessions and more focused tracks.
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