My colleagues Marc and Matthijs recently finished a series on innovation, which made me think of the importance of being forward-facing in today’s marketplace but also of the fact that many organizations suffer on that front. Their premise was that enterprise architects can help businesses overcome this problem, given their strategic positioning within the enterprise and the valuable insights they can deliver decision makers – I recommend you read it.
Their blog series is quite future-oriented, perhaps even cutting edge in an EA field that generally moves at a moderate speed. As I was reading it myself, I tried to imagine an antagonistic audience, kind of like playing devil’s advocate. So, I summoned a mental image of an architect who’s just busy keeping track of the current state and not preparing for the future – a sort of ‘human CMDB’, if you will. No focus on what’s ahead or how to prepare for it, just streamlining existing structures and processes, at best.
Alright, fair enough, I told myself, I can think of worse things than doing things well. And then it hit me – Toys “R” Us probably had a great supply chain and was, generally speaking, quite efficient in their retail operation. As probably was Sears, or Blockbuster. These companies were well-established, surely their operations were as streamline as can be. Clearly, though, that wasn’t enough. Because turning your back on the future is a sure way to not be a part of it, and there’s a long list of famous bankruptcies in the last 10-15 years that proves that.
So, whether you are an architect, a department head, or a senior executive, you face the same challenge – complacency. The sense of security that comes with casting your eyes barely a foot in front of you and ignoring the future, as well as the challenges that come with it. Now don’t get me wrong, it is important to execute things correctly, and operational excellence exists for a reason, but in terms of which ‘comes first’, doing the right things prevails. You first get right the direction that things ought to be following; you figure the strategy is sound. Then you think of ways to make it happen, and only then do you optimize those processes to unlock further efficiencies. If you think of the organization as a vehicle on the road, doing the right things is knowing where you’re going and why; doing things right is keeping it in the correct lane and under the legal limit.
This is no small matter. In fact, it’s never paid out more to have your eyes on what’s happening in the marketplace than right now. Be it technology, regulation, or social trends, things are changing often and they’re changing at a fast pace. An effective way to navigate these challenges successfully is to make fact-based decisions. This is of course, a difficult thing to achieve since modern enterprises are usually a nightmare of complexity. How does one get the right information, at the right time?
A business value-oriented EA practice can provide the transparency needed to ensure the organization is spending time, money and human resources on the areas that make most sense, i.e., that grow the business. With respect to both business and technology, decision makers will be empowered by valuable insights into how the enterprise is working in the now, but especially into how it may work in the future. That latter bit is crucially important since investments, innovation and decommissioning the wasteful/duplicative/inefficient components (applications, projects, processes etc.) reduces complexity, which is the main obstacle to change.
EA stands to supercharge a business’ ability to prioritize and therefore become really good at doing the right things. All that is required is a value-oriented approach to architecture and the benefits won’t be long to appear. We believe BiZZdesign’s in-house expertise coupled with our leading platform and services specifically designed to accelerate time to value are the best way to start onto this path. To learn more, please watch our webinar or request a demo.