What comes first, enterprise architecture or digital transformation?

1.8k views1 Upvote18 Comments

Chief Technology Officer in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
Think of your digital transformation initiatives as the driver and use those initiatives to decide what the building blocks are within your enterprise architecture. Then you can address gaps.

 Organize yourself around the initiatives that matter most to the board and, therefore, the leadership of a company. That defines what you should be doing as a firm: How do you acquire more customers? How do you retain customers? Or under what conditions are you running at peak performance? Once you’ve defined the most important initiatives, decide what you currently have that enables you to address these faster and where there are gaps. If they are manifested as IT gaps, you can go off-path and build, or you can buy some tools — I usually decide to do a build. If it’s a process gap, you can readdress or remap some of your processes, both internal and external — this could include people and culture.
Chair and Professor, Startup CTO in Education, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
I am pretty sure enterprise architecture comes before digital transformation. But it can be vice versa. Digital transformation is broad and you can start small, such as transfer invoicing and disbursement payment first, then vendor management, and design documents, etc. 
Solutions Architect in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Enterprise Architecture; 
Transformation is the necessary set of processes that might be caused by the architecture in the first place. Otherwise, transformation is just a set of activities for the sake of activities, not to achieve specific goals.
Chief Technology Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Digital transformation. You need to know what you are wanting to achieve, and what the company objectives are, before defining your solution and approach.
Director of Engineering in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
They go hand in hand. Few architectures will readily support digitally transformed customer experiences and business processes.

In my experience, starting with a view of what a digitally transformed employee experience and customer experience looks like is very helpful in determining what the enterprise architecture needs to accomodate and enable.

With that vision in mind, it is easy to do a gap analysis between the current architecture, an architecture that your incumbent technology and process providers could potentially support, as well as the possibilities provided by an entirely refreshed architecture.

Having clear sight of these three perspectives (and the process you go through in gaining this clarity) will greatly help you identify advocates, detractors and those who are indifferent to the transformation - be it board members, senior executives, peers, direct reports, existing suppliers, potential suppliers and industry regulators. 

Combined, you will be in a position to rapidly develop an options paper and a (high-level) business case for your chosen approach. 
Manager in Manufacturing, 10,001+ employees
Digital transformation will come first as you need to develop the right organizational structure and mindset before going into tactical things like enterprise architecture.
Head of Infra and Infosec, Asia in Finance (non-banking), 10,001+ employees
Enterprise architecture supports the business strategy.
Digital transformation is often part of the business strategy, thus comes first.
Sr. Director of Engineering in Software, 51 - 200 employees
Digital transformation is the driver and I think enterprise architecture comes as part of it.. The good enterprise architecture paves the way for successful and health digital transformation down the line. Its benefits are no-doubtedly are seen in longer term with the growth of company. The digital transformation initiatives like customer experience, vendor management, enhanced operational insights driving fruitful business decisions can only be driven by a good architecture encompassing different integrations of different data streams. 
Director of Engineering in Software, 51 - 200 employees
If you are looking for digital transformation, your enterprise architecture need to be able to support that transformation. Digital transformation is a very broad area, and there might not be one size fits all kind of an architecture here. Hence I would say both go in tandem.  You need to figure out where you want to be in your customer journey (could be both external or internal) and build on your enterprise architecture around that.
Vice President of Software Development in Finance (non-banking), 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I guess it is what and how. Digital transformation is what and Enterprise arch is how. In principle How would follow what. However, there are scenarios our what is influenced by how.  

Content you might like

Important solution for today’s way of working52%

Interesting idea to explore for 202242%

Not necessary6%


970 views1 Upvote1 Comment

Just before the renewal5%

A few days in advance35%

A few weeks in advance27%

A few months in advance30%

A few years or more in advance1%


4.5k views2 Upvotes2 Comments

Director Of Information Technology in Manufacturing, 501 - 1,000 employees
Following - interested in this question also.

4.5k views6 Upvotes1 Comment

CTO in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
Read More Comments
39.8k views130 Upvotes318 Comments