Killing zombie applications: New research reveals mature enterprise architecture practices help with safe removal


Bizzdesign’s fourth annual State of Enterprise Architecture report just published, revealing how organizations with more mature enterprise architecture practices can better identify unneeded applications and manage change.

Enterprise architecture practices support technology transformation, taking an organization-wide view of business strategy and processes, and the technologies and data used to implement them.

The new research, based on surveying more than 500 enterprise architecture professionals, reveals:

  • More than half of organizations think they could save between 11 and 30 percent of their IT budget by rationalizing unneeded applications.
  • However, a third of organizations can’t identify them, resulting in ‘zombie’ applications that waste resources.
  • 42% of respondents admitted they had poor visibility into data flows and application links, making it hard to remove applications safely.
  • Organizations with more mature enterprise architecture practices have better visibility into zombie applications and can better see the links between applications to reduce the risk of removing them.

Respondents assessed their enterprise architecture maturity across seven criteria, and we identified the top 25% and bottom 25% based on their average scores across those criteria.

Our research found:

  • Enterprise architecture leaders have greater business agility. Fifty-one percent say they cope well with unplanned change, compared to 5% of laggards. Sixty-one percent say they execute planned changes well, compared to 7% of laggards.
  • Enterprise architecture leaders are much more likely to achieve positive business outcomes than laggards. For example, 60% of leaders compared to 10% of laggards said their enterprise architecture practice identifies cost-saving opportunities. Leaders are also more likely to have enterprise architecture practices that improve sustainability, business continuity, and collaboration across functions.
  • Enterprise architecture leaders are much more likely to achieve positive IT outcomes than laggards. For example, 63% of leaders said their enterprise architecture practice increases the reuse of IT assets, compared to 13% of laggards. Leading enterprise architecture practices are also more likely to improve IT resilience, reduce security and compliance risks, and improve IT investment decisions.

The research identified some areas of concern. The lowest engagement with enterprise architecture is shown by C-level executives (excluding CIO/CTO) and board members. Twenty-four percent have no engagement, and 11 percent have declining engagement.

Forty-five percent of respondents admitted it was not easy for stakeholders across the organization to find the enterprise architecture information they need.

“The last few years have seen rapid technological change, including the rise of generative AI, and significant economic and supply chain challenges,” said Marc Lankhorst, chief technology evangelist, Bizzdesign. “Our survey shows that mature enterprise architecture practices enable organizations to respond to change more effectively, and help free up resources for innovation.”

Download the full research, including a breakdown of respondent demographics, here.

About Bizzdesign
Bizzdesign Horizzon is the leading business transformation and enterprise architecture platform that supports collaborative business transformation design and decision support, enabling enterprises to prioritize investments, manage the complexity of change, and align strategic roadmaps across silos. Horizzon supports open standards-based architecture modeling and design of current and future states. It provides a common language for business and IT stakeholders based on a single source of truth repository of reusable components. Horizzon enables visualization and model-based analysis capabilities to drive faster, more effective transformation decisions. Bizzdesign is a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture Tools, positioned highest for Completeness of Vision. For more information, visit or follow us on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn.