Enterprise Architects as Creative Organisational Designers

Evolving towards enterprise architecture infused organisations

Vlerick and research partner LoQutus have conducted an intensive, year-long study of Enterprise Architecture (EA). The impetus for the study was the perception that Enterprise Architects are re-positioning their function to serve their organisations more profoundly in turbulent times.

Vlerick and LoQutus launched their study with the goal of better understanding how Enterprise Architecture is used in organisations and how it contributes to business value creation.

The researchers conducted interviews in 13 organisations across a wide variety of sectors: Transport, Financial Services, Media, ICT, Energy, Retail & Distribution, Heavy Industry and Services.

One finding is that the EA domain requires a balance of opposites: discipline and creativity, rigor and pragmatism, accuracy and nuance, long-term vision and short-term results. The researchers argue that, as an Enterprise Architect views an organisation as a complex system, EA is a business discipline and should not be confined to the ICT domain.

Key insights

The EA community is going through change, and this study provides insights and guidance on how to adapt to this change. Two key insights emerged from the interviews:

  1. Organisations should be more flexible and pragmatic, and less strict or formal, in their EA approach;
  2. EA is a journey – not a one-off project – that can help an organisation continuously improve.

Furthermore, EA contributes to business value creation in two fundamental ways. First of all, cost reduction: Enterprise Architects can eliminate redundancies and inconsistencies throughout the organisation. Secondly, EA helps an organisation master complexity – and by mastering, not reducing, complexity, EA opens opportunities for the business as it contributes to managing risk.

As the role of the Enterprise Architect is re-positioned to be a ‘creative organisational designer’, the requisite skill set is expanding to include a high degree of flexibility, communication skills and designer attributes. This specialised blend of diverse skills needs to be nurtured and developed to meet the growing demand for Enterprise Architects.

Source: White paper “Towards Enterprise Architecture Infused Organisations”, by Dr Bjorn Cumps and Professor Stijn Viaene of Vlerick Business School, and Pascal Dussart and Joachim Vanden Brande of LoQutus. Published in the Journal of Enterprise Architecture, 9 (2): 8-18 (Cumps, B., Viaene, S., Dussart, P. & Vanden Brande, J. 2013. Towards enterprise architecture infused organizations.)

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