Most people view enterprise architecture as synonymous with IT architecture. However, enterprise architecture is more than that and can support an organization to respond to the ever-changing needs of the business environment like digital innovation or transformation.
Enterprise architecture practitioners from Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong Computer Society shared their thoughts on how an enterprise architect is instrumental in supporting an organization’s digitization.
Gartner said that by 2018, half of enterprise architecture initiatives will focus on defining and enabling digital business platform strategies. Enterprise architects play a role in defining digital platforms.
TOGAF, developed by the Open Group, is an enterprise architecture framework used by many enterprises. Under this framework, enterprise architecture consists not only of technology architecture, but also business architecture and information systems architecture. Business architecture is the key to deliver business value. It defines business strategy, governance, organization, and key business processes.
Good enterprise architecture brings business benefits such as a more efficient business operation, IT operation, better return on investment, faster and cheaper procurement.
Primary role of enterprise architects
Many organizations in Hong Kong have started to develop their enterprise architecture capabilities to support their digital businesses, aiming to utilize IT resources more effectively to deliver business value and achieve competitive advantage.
Industry practitioners in Hong Kong noted the primary role of an enterprise architect is to act as the bridge between business strategy and IT execution.
“An enterprise architect is just like a city planner or an advisor to the CxO. He should well understand the business strategy or directions, align IT strategy to business, bridge the gap between business and IT, establish policies, guidelines and governance for IT system architecture including digital projects,” said Dave Chen (pictured, right), chairperson of enterprise architecture special interest group at Hong Kong Computer Society.
Line of business users who are facing customers can easily identify new business opportunities. However, they may not know well the capabilities and impact on the overall business and IT architecture. Chen noted an enterprise architect could help realize business users’ concepts into actual deliverables.
The enterprise architect lead (infrastructure) of Cathay Pacific Airways, David Hall-Johnston (pictured, left) shared the same opinion.
“Traditional enterprises have often had a large gap between the business and IT, and it is clear now that in order to compete in today’s economy this gap has to be removed,” said Johnston. “There is a lot of value in having enterprise architects around to focus on ‘the day after tomorrow’.”
An enterprise architect is regarded as the catalyst to drive and speed up the digitization process. As such, he has to be competent in various emerging technologies.
According to Chen, these skill sets include user experience, cloud and containers, open source, modern web architecture, DevOps and API management. They are the key elements in the digital innovation era.