Digital innovation continues to transform organizations — from the technologies it uses to the skills, competencies and processes that are needed to realize the promise of digital. This transformation is driving enterprise architects and innovation leaders to increase their focus not only on leading technology and digital business innovation, but also on delivering business outcomes and execution.
In reality, architecture is 90% people and 10% architecture
“Organizations no longer want their enterprise architecture (EA) practice to be focused on standards, structure and control,” says Marcus Blosch, research vice president at Gartner. “They want an EA practice that is focused on driving business outcomes, working in a flexible and creative way to help define the future and how to get there.”
Blosch believes the EA practice must extend its business-outcome-driven architecture to include a new set of talents needed to support digital business and digital transformation.
Architect the possible: A talent for developing business strategy
Executives can have a good understanding of the latest innovation but not fully comprehend how it can work for their organization. It's here that enterprise architects can help, bringing together an understanding of the organization's strategy and business model with the opportunities of digital.
“Successful EA teams will develop business architecture skills that can model their organization's strategy, goals, and business and operating models in detail, as well as tracking innovative technologies and business models,” says Blosch. “This will require a highly collaborative approach, working with individuals and teams from across the organization and in particular those responsible for digital strategy.”
Design the new: A talent for designing new services and experiences
Digital involves creating innovative services, offerings and experience for customers — both internal and external. This means putting the customer at the center of the design process and using iterative, experimental and learning-based approaches, such as design thinking, to build the supporting platforms. Digital design is driven by highly collaborative, cross-functional teams, and EA plays an important role in understanding where and what types of innovations are relevant, guiding the design process and providing the bridge to scaling up a design.
To provide real value to your organization, you must be able to bring people together in whatever way works
Do it differently: A talent for innovation
Innovation doesn't happen by chance. Organizations with a track record of innovation have a clear innovation process. Enterprise architects can drive this process by tracking innovative technologies, services and business models and creating a Hype Cycle for their organization.
“Use the business model and business capabilities to anchor these technologies to show where they can have an impact, and what the potential is,” advises Blosch. “Engage widely across business and IT to help people understand the opportunities, and work with your sponsors and stakeholders to build out an innovation pipeline.”
Read more: The Evolution of Enterprise Architecture
Enable collaboration: A talent for orchestrating collaboration across the organization
Creating digital innovations and executing business strategy demand the collaboration of people from across the organization, and even beyond it. It is architecture that makes this collaboration possible. It provides the models and insight needed to make smart decisions, bring people together and provide the common language needed.
“In reality, architecture is 90% people and 10% architecture,” says Blosch. “As an enterprise architect, to provide real value to your organization, you must be able to bring people together in whatever way works, and help them collaborate.”
Guide the journey: A talent for navigating to the future
Enterprise architects should take a three-pronged approach to navigation. First, EA teams must develop a vision for the future, the business and the people, working practices and technologies that are needed to bring the business model to life. Next, enterprise architects must work with stakeholders across business and IT to help shape a pragmatic roadmap. Finally, enterprise architects must play an active role to support the change and transformation program necessary to follow that roadmap.