The Impact of Digital Transformation on Enterprise Architectures

The Impact of Digital Transformation on Enterprise Architectures
IT needs to regain its relevance and become a catalyst for change in this new digital milieu.

Digital transformation is permeating all facets of adaptive digital enterprises. In IT, Enterprise Architectures reigned supreme. However, the digital transformational currents are bringing considerable changes in EA as well.

First some background: Enterprise Architecture is the blueprint of the enterprise, capturing all the models and their relationships that are needed to associate the strategies and business objectives of the enterprise with operationalized systems and technology infrastructures. Traditionally there are several categories of models that are captured in enterprise architectures. The four most pervasive ones are:

  • Business Architecture that focuses on the business strategy, the organization of the enterprise, the various services of the business and the core strategic as well as operational processes within the business.

  • Information Architecture blueprint provides modeling of all entities, their relationships and the comprehensive models of “data” and “information” that are needed to run the enterprise.

  • Application Architecture blueprint provides all the details of the applications, including how they interact and leverage information models, the interaction and interfaces of applications, and the enterprise application design patterns.

  • The Infrastructure (Technology) Architecture blueprint focuses on the organization of the hardware and core infrastructure software that is required to support the performance, security, and reliability of the enterprise.

There are many popular EA methodologies, frameworks, and approaches: such as Zachman and TOGAF. The focus of the EA initiative is to come up with the miniature model, the blueprint of all these interrelated architecture artifacts. A problem that frequently arises in EA initiatives is that you often get paralysis through analysis: or the proliferation of models with many artifacts that cover the entire spectrum of the enterprise. The result is a collection of blueprints and models that take many months to design with no actual execution. In other words, not exactly a catalyst for digital transformation in Internet speeds.

Enterprises and their architectures continue to mature and evolve over time. New digitization paradigms and technologies are disruptive. IT needs to regain its relevance and become a catalyst for change in this new digital milieu. The digitization trends are social, mobile, cloud, big data and most importantly the Internet of Things. The impact of these trends on Enterprise Architectures is considerable. Add to that the tremendous power to the voice of the customer, who needs to be listened and responded to in ever-shorter periods of time.

Digitization is also about digitized intelligent processes and dynamic cases. The Digitization philosophy is model-driven development or “construction” (aka “execution” or “operationalization”). Model-driven development means what you model is what you execute (vs. what you model is what you generate modeling artifacts for). The Digitization philosophy makes the enterprise agile, unlike traditional EA approaches where the miniature model of the never gets implemented.

Business Digitization though intelligent BPM and especially Dynamic Case Management involves business objectives, the business requirements and the business solutions that are implemented as automated and deployed agile applications. It symbolizes the innovations and specializations that could easily be achieved by the business. It stands for the change and agility achieved through the intelligent BPM suite.

The essential contrast between EA and Digitization Architecture is that the latter places emphasis on dynamic case automation and real-time execution of strategies, rather than spending a lot of time in big-bang projects that design a number of blueprints and miniature models with little or no perceived business value. Another way to characterize Digitization Architecture is to think about “adaptive business automation,” implying the automation as well as the management of dynamic cases. The Digitization Architecture follows a “Think big, Think Digital …but Start Small” strategy, with emphasis on immediate generation of value.

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EA Chapter in Wiley Encyclopedia of Management


In this groundbreaking study of intelligent BPM (iBPM), Dr. Setrag Khoshafian explains why iBPM is the ideal way to make your business become truly transformational and agile. To learn more, download the Intelligent BPM: The Next Wave eBook.