Business Strategy Realization through Digital EA

Business Strategy Realization through Digital EA

By Aaron Tan Dani


Any kind of massive change in an organisation can be daunting, especially if it has never been done before.  But sometimes, business transformation is necessary, such as to breathe new business strategy into ailing revenue streams, to change fundamental, legacy organisation-wide processes that are taking up too much resources or simply do not work in this Digital Era.

These days, business transformation is a must, if companies wish to remain relevant in their respective industries that are rapidly evolving. New companies that are leaner, meaner and more agile are disrupting industries, thanks to new and emerging technologies. But despite it being technology that is enabling these industry disruptions, it is a business and it’s strategies that are supposed to drive technology.

Business transformation

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Change is the only option, and the only constant.

But where do companies that aspire to change, start? And how do they avoid the common pitfalls of enterprise transformation – gaps, redundancy, conflicts, lack of integration and so on.

Digital Enterprise Architecture can help with this, and it’s key that business is driving this, instead of IT which would have a plethora of tech vendors ready and waiting with quick fix frameworks and solutions. Enterprise Architecture will allow companies to identify and adopt any technology best fit towards their businesses and gain the most outcomes out of their ICT investment, instead of constantly trying to fit their businesses with the technology and hoping that it will somehow work.

For a transformation to have lasting and organisation-wide effects, the business strategy and objectives have to be formed at a higher-level and coupled with the digital components, but with enough detail so that it can be diffused to the rest of the organisation for the actual realization through various project initiatives.

That’s a job for an Enterprise Architect to accomplish.

Critical difference – no siloes

Organisations may have the basic ideas right. They may already know that it’s the business that needs to drive change, and that they need to ensure this change is as pervasive as possible across the whole company. However, some of the million-dollar questions are:

  1. What are the expected values and outcomes once these changes have been made?
  2. What are the existing components in the organisation that will be impacted with the change?
  3. How to minimize these impacts?

A simple, similar analogy is to take an example of trying to transform and modernize an existing township. Without having access to the township ecosystem information (the demographic of people living in the area, the businesses available, and the public infrastructure available), it will be difficult for the townships to be transformed and modernized efficiently, without disrupting any of the existing components within the township. Replace the word ‘Township’ to ‘Organisation’, and we can see that for organisation to change, it needs to have access to its enterprise ecosystem.

Through Digital Enterprise Architecture approach, the organisation’s Digital Enterprise Map can be made available, which will allow business transformation initiative to modelled on top of the organisation’s Enterprise Architecture landscape. A proper, thorough traceability between each Architecture domain (Business, Data, Application and Technology) and troubleshooting of the entire enterprise can be made, allowing calculated business decision to be made in an agile way.

This is constructed with the collaboration efforts by every departments and business units across the enterprise, allowing a single view of the entire organisation.

With the Digital Enterprise Map, there is a top-down view of the whole business that spans across the different boundaries of all the different line of business units. The key, is that there are no more siloes, and business units will not create their own separate initiatives, which is usually the case.

Instead, we can achieve digitally connected enterprise starting from the strategy to business to information to application to infrastructure and vice versa as depicted below.

The thing to keep note of – when architecting solutions, do so from the holistic enterprise perspective, not the individual business units’ views. Always start from the strategic level view and then drill down to more details, or elements, as we expand the Digital Enterprise Map when it is time to drive initiatives and execution.

The initiatives level

Now, that the organisation has the important elements of business and IT, it will be easier to know what needs to be in place in order for the organisation to achieve its vision. Proper visualization of the organisation’s Target State Architecture, and gap analysis of the organisation’s Current State Architecture, will allow full understanding of the organisation’s current capabilities and competencies, and what can be improved and how to improve them in order for the organisation to achieve its envisioned state.

Next, comes scoping and defining the initiatives needed to take you from the present to the future.  Things to note include: Are you able to define these initiatives from a business perspective? Are you able to model the strategy and provide the traceability on its execution? Are you able to map the business objectives and goals to the different capabilities/elements in the enterprise? If need be, could you tell which capabilities or process is causing the success or failure of a business objective, and will you be able to make adjustments, and correct your course?

If your Enterprise Architects are able to answer these important questions, you are ready to create your strategic roadmaps, and obtain approvals from business sponsors in the organisation.

Initiative Realization

Now, it’s time to communicate the vision across the organisation. Also important, is the handover of the initiatives to your implementation teams to execute. Your architects come in handy, to translate changes into requirements that will also be documented within the Digital Enterprise Map.

During the execution stage, it is crucial to have a regular implementation governance monitoring for continuous architecture compliance, to ensure that the envisioned positive outcomes and the business goals are met, with the time and resources that have been allocated to it.

Aaron Tan Dani, President of EA-Chapter, SCS
Visit our website and join our activities as part of the EA-Chapter to learn how you can implement Digital-Business-driven EA in your organisation.

Aaron Tan Dani, Founder and Chairman of Iasa Asia Pacific
Visit our website to learn more about ITABoK (IT Architecture Body of Knowledge) skillsets and about the roles, scopes and impacts of EA Specializations (Business Architecture, Information Architecture, Software Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture and Solution Architecture).

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