Connecting Architecture to Business Strategy

3 Steps to Business Transformation

When I was head of Enterprise Architecture at Wells Fargo some years ago, John Stumpf, now CEO, was fond of saying “We could leave our strategic plan on an airplane, somebody could pick it up, and it wouldn’t matter. It’s all about execution.” He is still saying it as in this this recent Forbes interview.

Enterprise Architecture, when done well, is a business transformation practice. Transforming a business is not about slogans, mission statements, slick PowerPoints or in-depth strategy documents. It’s about execution and actually changing business operations.

Business strategies are not static and constantly change as markets evolve, competitors act and new technologies emerge. So what we need is not just an ability to transform the business once, but to transform on an ongoing basis.

The job of the architect is to make connections. For an Enterprise Architect connections are between products, markets, channels, suppliers, business units, customers, information, systems and technology to name a few. In order to execute a transformation in a large organization you need to do three things:

  • First, throw out old notions of how planning in complex is done using manual paper-based processes. Planning an enterprise transformation is fundamentally different from planning a narrowly defined departmental initiative.
  • Second, invest in tools for building a transformation road map that is able to describe the elements of the enterprise as a set of components with relationships, capture it in a database, and present various views to different stakeholders. This is not as onerous as it sounds.
  • Third, develop a team of enterprise architects and planners with the skills and discipline to use an EA Framework to maintain the underlying reference data about the business, its operations, the systems that support it, and the technologies that they are based on.

The clarity of the connections results in alignment of your business and IT organizations and means fewer errors due to missed opportunities or communication issues. And because your business plans are linked directly to the underlying technical implementation, business value will be delivered quicker.

This is not some “pie in the sky” theory or a futuristic dream. As I wrote in my blog last week about Markitecture versus Visualized Architecture, the BOST™ Framework leverages models, elements, and associated relationships built around an underlying Metamodel, and interprets enterprise processes using a four-dimensional view driven by Business, Operations, Systems, and Technology. It provides an architecture-led planning approach for executing business transformations on an ongoing basis.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.