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Why No One Understands Enterprise Architecture & Why Technology Abstractions Always Fail

It can be difficult for people, departments and organizations to get technology right. After all, technology is often seen as a black-box solution that ‘just works’ — and that kind of approach can reduce critical thinking and other approaches where the technology serves the needs of the users, not the reverse. Indeed, technology is supposed to help, though with poor implementations and technology that’s used to serve abstract goals, the ‘why’ can often get lost.

That can turn a useful tool into somewhat of a straightjacket as users struggle to adopt new technologies that may hamper their efforts, all while managers and decision-makers tout the benefits of that shiny new thing. In a sense, understanding enterprise architecture starts with the difficulties confronted, in addition to how technological solutions can help reduce those challenges and facilitate real change and a beneficial impact to the bottom line.

What Is Enterprise Architecture?

Making sense of enterprise architecture starts with the knowledge of what enterprise architecture is all about. It’s not necessarily complicated, but it’s often misunderstood as some kind of bolt-on that will immediately impact an organization or business. While EA is certainly capable of having an outsized impact, that depends more on the organizational buy-in and support of what enterprise architecture can do. 

In a nutshell, it’s a holistic approach that takes into account all the things that your organization does, as well as its resources and the processes that can best put those resources to use. It’s not something that can really affect change in and of itself — it’s more about the overall effort of strategically designing, implementing and studying how best to affect the change desired via some kind of overarching roadmap, and the technologies that can brought in to help facilitate it.

Capable of delivering real-world recommendations to decision-makers and leaders, the knowledge of enterprise architecture is only part of the answer. True understanding of enterprise architecture is bigger than the tech purchased or the processes that you’ll need to get the most out of your resources — it’s a comprehensive and all-encompassing approach that outlines how you can propel your organization forward.

What Enterprise Architecture Is Not

Adding to the confusion around enterprise architecture, many who may only have a passing knowledge of EA often lop enterprise architecture in with other IT tech such. But EA isn’t a piece of tech or even a type of tech — it’s an approach that can help you better utilize the tech and tools that your organization needs to get work done. It’s not something to outsource nor is it a discrete, black-box technology. When done right, enterprise architecture represents a valuable understanding of and a holistic approach that utilizes technology to do better work.

How To Understand Enterprise Architecture

With all the things that EA isn’t, enterprise architecture can be confusing to those with minimal or passing experience with EA. If it helps, enterprise architecture is more like enterprise planning — or business planning and strategy — and in that sense it’s not one thing at all. EA is about aligning your processes and strategies with your goals, as well as establishing a mechanism so that you can better understand and work towards the goals in the normal, day-to-day business environment.

Additionally, it could be the case that enterprise architecture suggests you implement certain technologies today yet swap them out for other technologies a year or two down the line. But if one thing’s for certain in business, it’s that change happens, and organizations that are better equipped to deal with change will be the ones that can nimbly pivot to new technologies and new ways of doing things that will give them a leg up on their competitors. That can help an organization be better stewards of the resources and funds at their disposal, enhancing their ability to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be.

How To Do Enterprise Architecture

As the first line of defense in keeping your company on track, enterprise architecture is more akin to a holistic business strategy than a piece of tech that you can add to your IT department’s budget. It requires support and buy-in across your organization, but the rewards are great for organizations that can see an implementation through. 

All told, there are four different applications for EA implementations. The first is known as business architecture, which is about helping organizations better understand their strategies and define standards that can be effectively followed. Next is systems architecture, which culminates in the creation of a comprehensive road-map and how various resources relate to the goal at hand. The third application of EA is data architecture, which creates the structure of assets and how it’s all managed. Finally, the technology architecture facilitates communication and supports all initiatives with convenient tools and workflows.

If you’d like to develop your understanding of enterprise architecture, the experts at Conexiam can help. We provide practical, hands-on enterprise architecture training with our TOGAF 9 certified training course.

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