Enterprise Architects Define Digital Platforms

The role of enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders is evolving to support digital business.

Enterprise architecture (EA) and technology innovation leaders have an important job: They advise CIOs about digital business strategy, innovation, and enterprise change. They must factor in technology like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to keep their organizations advanced and competitive.

Philip Allega, research vice president at Gartner discussed the evolving role of EA and technology innovation leaders, the impact of emerging and strategic technologies, and digital business platforms.

Q: How has the role of EA and technology innovation leaders changed?

EA and technology innovation leaders need to be equipped to manage digital disruptions.

A: Planning how to integrate emerging and strategic technologies into the next business model, guiding in-flight investments, and assessing the fitness of existing assets are hallmarks of 21st-century leaders that generate business outcomes. EA and technology innovation leaders need to be equipped to manage digital disruptions. They should bring strategic options, transparency to issues, and enterprise guardrails to new business opportunities. Organizations rely on enterprise architects to understand and analyze the impact of emerging and strategic technologies. They are leaders who provide a hands-on approach to defining how digital business platforms deliver value in the modern enterprise.

Q: What technology trends should be on an enterprise architect’s radar?

A: EA and technology innovation leaders must be familiar with strategic technology trends to deliver new business models and ecosystems. An important strategic trend is what Gartner calls intelligent digital mesh. “Intelligent” refers to the advances in AI and machine learning that many technologies now leverage. “Digital” is the blurring of the physical and digital worlds, such as robotics, 3D printing, and IoT.

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Finally, “mesh” is the exploding number of devices that are connecting everything, and being able to monitor, track, and derive information from data collected by things, people, and businesses. Advanced data analytics and cloud computing technologies continue to support these critical new technologies and remain crucial for digital business innovation.

By 2018, half of EA business architecture initiatives will focus on defining and enabling digital business platform strategies.

Q: Why is developing a digital business platform vital for success?

A: Aligning business and IT objectives and establishing a collective vision is the basis for a digital business platform. By 2018, half of EA business architecture initiatives will focus on defining and enabling digital business platform strategies. As a CIO from a multinational technology company said, “All of our projects that move us toward digitalization begin with the EA team analyzing our industry and others to see what is happening now and what will drive digitalization in the future.”

Digital platforms underpin some of the most successful business models, from Amazon to Uber. We see increasing interest from organizations in building a digital platform as a key part of their digital strategy. The platform is as much an architecture strategy as it is a business strategy. EA teams will need to be fully involved in the platform’s development, from ecosystems modelling and creating the business model, to the modular, service-oriented technical architectures that enable it.

Gartner clients can learn more about the tools EA and technology innovation leaders should use for digital business success in the report: Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Architecture Tools by Philip Allega.

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