The Evolution of Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architects and technology innovation leaders should focus on collaboration and artificial intelligence as they move through 2019 and beyond.

The most consistent pattern of digital business is making IT less about individual technologies, and more about technology-enabled business models and solutions. For today’s enterprise architecture (EA), this same pattern is inspiring architects and technology innovation leaders to design and deliver new operating models, with business outcomes now at center stage.

By 2021, 40% of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies

“By 2021, 40% of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies,” says Marcus Blosch, Vice President Analyst, Gartner. “EA and technology innovation leaders must use the latest business and technology ideas to create new revenue streams, services and customer experiences.”

Blosch outlines prominent strides in the EA arena that IT leaders must be aware of for 2019 and beyond.

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Collaborative approach to EA

The need for collaboration across organizations is increasing, with the business demanding digital transformation and using its IT resources to do so. Because the EA team will remain relatively small, it must add value by orchestrating collaboration between different groups. In fact, by 2022, Gartner predicts 80% of digital businesses will take a collaborative approach to EA, involving participants across business and IT, and potentially beyond. The tools and techniques of EA remain invaluable, but the real contribution of enterprise architects is their ability to consult, coach and mentor, and drive business outcomes.

EA as an internal management consultancy

New business models will bring together new customers, services and experiences, but this isn’t possible without business architecture to help design and shape the execution. Business architects will need to work closely with business teams, so much so that by 2022, 80% of business architects will work directly for a business leader. This will position EA as an internal management consultancy, where less time is spent gathering data and more time is spent using data for decision-making purposes. Business architecture combines and validates the building blocks necessary to deliver future-state business capabilities, so if business architects don’t work closely with business leaders, technology-enabled initiatives will be impeded.

EA supported by artificial intelligence (AI)

For EA to function more like an internal management consultancy, the tools that EA and technology innovation leaders use will increase in importance. AI will automate processes to reduce friction and improve business efficiency. Gartner predicts that AI technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product or service by 2020. As such, 50% of EA programs will be supported by AI-enabled software for planning, governance, assurance and IT asset management purposes by 2022.

EA traditionally focuses on the people, processes, information and technology of the enterprise and their relationships to one another to make decisions about future-state architecture. EA and technology innovation leaders now face an unprecedented opportunity to help their organizations select, create and implement the right business- and technology-based platforms to support their business ecosystems.

This article has been updated from the original, published on March 29, 2017, to reflect new events, conditions or research.

More predictions for all aspects of the IT industry can be found in the Gartner Trend Insight Report “Predicts 2019: Leadership Means Expanding Options, Not Limiting Them”, a collection of research aimed at helping CIOs and IT leaders focus on how the landscape is shifting for individuals, businesses and IT organizations. Gartner clients can learn more about developing a customer-centric, design-driven architecture in Predicts 2019: Enterprise Architecture Evolves Into an Internal Management Consultancy by Marcus Blosch, et al.

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