The Architecture of a Digital Business

Disruptive technologies, such as 3D printing, smart machines and the Internet of things (IoT) are rapidly making every business a digital business.

An array of emerging and digital technologies can bring together a broad ecosystem of businesses and customers, and this is happening right now. According to Gartner’s 2015 CEO survey,  a third of CEOs expect to attribute more than half their revenue to digital within 5 years. However, there is concern that some leaders only have a relatively superficial understanding of how digital change will enable high levels of revenue.

Therefore, it’s crucial for organizations to develop a digital business strategy. “Enterprise architects must assume the role of vanguard, leading their organization to drive digital business,” said Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner.

To help practitioners get started, Mr. Burke shared some key digital initiatives to consider:

  • “Remaster” old products and services – A good example is from the automotive industry where cars are evolving into a “connected platform” that will bring together a vast range of technologies and services enabling autonomous driving, shopping and in-car entertainment.
  • Innovate through the business ecosystem – Apple and Google’s success in bringing together and managing an ecosystem of app developers, authors, entertainment companies and publishers is a perfect example of architecting an ecosystem that created new business models and markets for both companies.
  • Be “smart” – Customers (and partners and suppliers) already expect the right information, product or service delivered to them in the right way at the right time. The companies that foster expertise in big data and analytics — across their entire ecosystem — to best meet these expectations, will streamline their business and win market share from those which don’t.
  • Blend technology and business – There’s no longer a distinction between technology and business. For example, even in traditional physical businesses like a coffee shop, embracing customer mobility can streamline payments and customer service while building long-term engagement and repeat business.
  • Become an experimental organization – Organization must experiment with technologies, as innovation builds on itself, wave after wave. Customers adopt and use products and services in unexpected ways. Successful organizations will encourage, measure and explore these possibilities, and rapidly roll them out where fruitful.

Gartner predicts that in five years, the enterprise architecture function will be integral to the IT and digital business strategies of most organizations, so practitioners must work to reskill and retool to better understand and use the emerging technologies that are quickly changing the face of business. Only an organization that has accepted the change to digital business is in a position to shape its strategy as required.

“On a practical level, enterprise architects must identify the technologies and skills that the business will require and make a plan for them,” Mr. Burke said. “Crucially, they need to engage the right people, with broad business and technology perspectives to enable the ecosystem to flourish and deliver the strategic business outcomes the company is pursuing.”

Mr. Burke will explain how vital an enterprise architecture is in this new digital era during the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summits 2015 in London, U.K. and Grapevine, TX. Gartner clients can access more information is in the research note “Future of EA 2015: Evolving From Enterprise to Ecosystem”.

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