Next up in my Q&A series on EA, I am going to address how the EA market is changing and what vendors are doing to support user’s new expectations.
Question: What are some of the ways that EA is evolving and what changes are EA tool vendors implementing to support those changes?
Answer: In my last blog post, I talked about demonstrating the value of enterprise architecture to the business and the increasing expectation and demand for EA to demonstrate business value. The focus on value is a big part of EA’s evolution. I believe this is a result of both the desire to see a return on the EA investment, which many companies have already made, and the need to identify new ways to drive adaptability into the organization in order to remain competitive.
In this post, I am going to discuss one of the ways EA tool vendors are supporting organizations in this evolution through an increased focus on leveraging the information captured about the enterprise to drive more informed decisions. Leading EA tool vendors are increasing their capabilities around the use of the data to support better presentation of the analysis, investment options, and organizational impacts to decision makers throughout the organization. To enable these key stakeholders, architects need to support multiple points of view, different levels of detail and a diverse set of information. This data also needs to be presented to users in a format that can be easily understood and linked back to the objectives that drive each functional area.
For too many organizations, the manipulation of the data remains a highly manual process where strategy, organizational, and process models are rebuilt in spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides and documents. This not only wastes the time of highly skilled analysts, but also creates a maintenance nightmare as requests for additional information, refinements in the assumptions, or other alternatives are requested by business users, which inevitably starts the cycle of manual data manipulation again.
I believe the better approach is to drive the presentation of the information directly from the underlying enterprise data – supporting a combination of information from the architecture teams with relevant data from other systems. Graphical displays and drill-down capabilities deliver better clarity into the information to support more informed decisions. Changing an assumption, resource allocation, business process, or goal in one central location can cascade through all the dependencies and immediately be reflected across the enterprise model or compared to other iterations of the project – without the hassles and headaches of manual rework.
If you’re not working from a central repository, and your current EA toolset doesn’t include the ability to translate your enterprise information and business models into information that can be consumed the business users, you should be demanding more. Unlocking information to enable better decisions is one of the ways that EA delivers value back to the business.
In my next post, I’ll be discussing another trend in EA and EA tool evolution – where analysts fit within the organization and what impact that has on what you need from EA tools.
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