2014 Enterprise Architecture: Increasing Business Architecture ROI

As we continue our enterprise architecture journey with new agile solutions, we are focusing on 2014 best practices, frameworks, and methodologies.

We are focusing on current challenges and opportunities for architects, CIOs, and IT leaders. Our coverage will consist of the architecture domains with a focus on the business value, new SOA-based solutions, emerging technologies, and developing IT guidelines.

We will look at the business architect (BA) role first. BAs are now in play from the past  “limited” role to a rapid resurrection from the Great Recession to today’s “must have” function to offer greater value for your organization. The use of SOA has helped develop and elevate the BA impact and importance in organizations with reusable business web services for a solid architecture foundation and not “just a bunch of web-services” without the business context and business value. ZapThink explores 2014 trends for the CIO and EA team insights and recommendations for why you should rethink your business architecture function regarding its value proposition and ROI to your organization. We believe the business architecture component investments will be critical for business innovation for corporate executives to drive profits and bottom-line earnings for growth or maximizing ROI value from your austere government budgets in 2014.

Understanding the Enterprise for the Business Architecture’s Value

Most organizations use an enterprise architecture framework that consists of the four domains of the architecture – application, business, information, and technology.

Enterprise Architecture Domains and Sub Domains
Figure 1 – Typical EA Example

However, we find most enterprise architects will tailor the enterprise framework that best fits their organization, communications, and culture. For example, National Institute of Health uses only three domains: business, information, and technology as illustrated below.

We find the key to most EAs is to use a framework that can be articulated and communicated in the organizational culture that ties its business operations and mission to its stakeholders and customers. We selected this example because it clearly focuses on the business architecture with the information and technical architectures as the IT enablers. From early pioneering enterprise architecture work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the business architecture had a clear focus on a business model for the federal government, which is a similar construct for industry.

Today, the enterprise architecture has been extended and tailored to both industry and federal organizations in their enterprise architecture. However, the business architecture has evolved with more rigor and better alignment for value and ROI.

Over last five years, we have found an EA shift to the critical role of the BA and its maturity in newer frameworks, models, and standards/ guidelines for best practices. Today, we see them both – CIOs and EAs – trending to allocate more resources to the BA function for innovation and agile delivery solutions.

NIH's Enterprise Architecture Framework
Figure 2 – NIH’s Enterprise Architecture Framework

BAs typically use a disciplined approach in most mature organizations with agile, scalable, and useable models to drive and realize business goals for the supporting organization’s foundation of the enterprise. This is where most of today’s heavy lifting is being reshaped for tomorrow’s agile enterprise world. BAs need to focus on creating value to drive value realization as the outcome for our annual work plan for the organization. The value model below illustrates the need to validate each effort for business value to achieve business realization and direct benefits for our customers. This model is comprehensive, fits with the BA role, and is well-accepted type of concept as it covers the value planning, value creation, and value realization process illustrated below.

Simply put, BAs must align and drive the business strategy from the C-suite for realization of the expected business goals and mission outcomes.

Not all organizations are firing on all cylinders with 21st century business architecture because they are still focusing too much on technology, such as the infrastructure operations. Mostly likely, CIO and IT leadership bear responsibility for this misalignment in organizations.

We see a shift of many CIOs and EAs to a focus on business application overhaul with enterprise portfolio management, data management, innovation, and agile delivery of new strategic products and services dictated by the business owners. To be fair, there are a number of EAs and IT leaders entrenched in allocating too much time and attention in other areas, such as lower level operations and short-term firefighting in today’s leaned-out IT departments.

Increasing Value Proposition of Business Architects

In order for BAs to add value to the organization, they must have CIOs in the right leadership roles. Today’s CIO discussions with CEOs often lead us to what type of EA and IT leadership team is right for the organization. The 2014 CEO focus is on growing revenue and the firm’s earnings each year whereby the BA role is instrumental.

Today, your BA must be leveraged to improve the corporate strategy with the IT leader team. It encompasses support for key new development for application overhaul, organizational capability and design, enterprise planning, performance analysis with key metrics, operating models for innovation and refresh for change management. CIOs are now leveraging BAs to help streamline enterprise portfolio management, business case management analysis, as well as continuous business process management for better organizational alignment.

Mark Von Rosing Value Model
Figure 3 – Mark Von Rosing Value Model

This alignment defines the right type of BA who will support the business ecosystem to execute the C-suite corporate strategies for adding value. We see BA skills and open source frameworks and tools continue to strengthen the business architecture for the enterprise in 2014.

The overall business architecture continues to mature especially with the Business Architect Guild (AKA Guild) to promote best practices, emerging practices, and expand the architect knowledge base with tools, such as Business Architect Body of Knowledge (BIZBOK TM ). BIZBOK Version 3.0 has created much interest with its further expanded Version 3.5 just released in January 2014. Overall, we believe it is a well thought-out and comprehensive guide that can easily be adopted by BAs. The BIZBOK will allow BAs to align with key stakeholders with a line-of-sight to the strategy plan of the business architecture function. OMG established the Business Architectural Special Interest Group (BASIG) to create a forum and bridge the work of the Guild in collaborating to mature the BIZBOK for a wider and more accepted audience with the standard’s group.

To sum, CEOs are still struggling to adopt the strong role of the CIO and the EA team to help support the enterprise execution plans. Considering the high-value business targets and stronger ROI realization from the CIO, the BA team is now in the best position for 2014.

Marching to 2014 Business Architect Demand and Beyond

CEOs have used up most of their revenue and earnings tools on aggressive cost-cutting programs and stock buy-backs to recover from the Great Recession. Looking at early 2014 corporate results with a mostly flat corporate earnings outlook, CEOs will be re-focused on innovation with technology drivers to boost earnings with more refreshed products and services offerings. Hence, they will need to bring back the EA Teams with the best-in-class BAs that were most likely cut loose over the market recovery to fill the current business transformational gaps. We predict that these steps will lead to more Capex investments, as the economy recovers, requiring the appropriate BA talent with agile enterprise architecture skills in industry and federal government. We expect CIOs to move out on BA funding and new hires with higher salaries for agile enterprise skills after being frozen in place the past five years.

Planning forward in 2014, corporation and government spending will need to be increased for both EA and BA efforts. It will mitigate effects of aggressive cost cutting and ultimately shortsighted budget savings realized during the Great Recession.

Today’s businesses and governments have a huge appetite for corporate IT talent to plan and execute stakeholder and C-suite complex requirements bridging a broad emerging technology moat for tomorrow’s solutions. The smart money is on staffing up your EA team with a focus on BA with agile enterprise architecture skills now.

The resurgence of EA ROI and value proposition will add in the bench strength for innovation and agile execution for refreshed products and services to keep your CIO happy and employed longer. You need as many new competitive advantages and agile enterprise delivery models for newer products and services for your stakeholder team. It’s time to recognize and leverage your refreshed BA team to deliver on all cylinders for this year.