Digital Transformation (DT) and Enterprise Architecture (EA) initiatives are similar in many ways. Both provide significant benefits to organizations investing in the future. They are also complicated and can vary greatly by organization and industry. In addition, both DT and EA initiatives may require a lot of up-front work to define, and almost always represent significant investments. Because both examine (and change!) the underpinnings of organizations, they are large undertakings that may initially appear nebulous and, consequently, can be difficult to get started.
At RevGen, we have found significant benefits when DT and EA initiatives are undertaken together. Doing so will enable your organization to quickly identify and answer important questions that will lead to success. While DT efforts provide the focus necessary to develop a pragmatic approach to EA, EA provides DT stakeholders the information needed to effectively implement a meaningful transformation.
Viewing Digital Transformation with an Enterprise Architecture Lens
Leaders of DT efforts can face challenges when building a new technology landscape with unknown dependencies, unclear capabilities, and a host of legacy systems. Choosing technologies to fill capability gaps can be challenging when you don’t understand how they might work with new and existing components. Fortunately, separating the hype from the reality presented by vendors is much easier when you have the architectural foundation to build upon and the “technology team” to back you up.
When brought in to support a DT effort, enterprise architects can quickly identify guidelines by asking questions such as:
What value are we bringing to our customers?
What new capabilities will be needed to realize that value?
What existing capabilities are needed to support the DT effort?
How do we know if we’re doing it right?
Approaching Enterprise Architecture from a Digital Transformation Perspective
Viewing EA through the lens of a DT initiative enables the enterprise architect and other stakeholders to more quickly determine what data points and artifacts are needed to meet DT objectives.
From the DT perspective, stakeholders may ask enterprise architects questions such as:
What dependencies will we have on new technologies and legacy systems?
How should we share data between systems?
Who is going to build this and how long will it take?
How are we going to maintain the systems when we’re done?
These questions provide both focus and a sense of urgency to the enterprise architect’s work. In addition to identifying what artifacts are relevant for the initiative, it helps the enterprise architects establish a plan to fill in the gaps. Overall, DT allows enterprise architects to “right-size” their approach, immediately guiding DT efforts while building a foundation for future initiatives without feeling overwhelmed.
When DT and EA efforts are conducted in tandem, the business and IT are left in a better place. The business has the technologies and solutions necessary to meet its transformation objectives, and the enterprise architects make sure that the appropriate designs, architectures, integrations, and documentation are in place to sustain them.
Noah Benedict leads RevGen’s Digital Enablement practice. He is passionate about using technology to advance business and empower his clients to embrace new opportunities.
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