EA Transformation for Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation is the driving force in the latest wave of enterprise transformations and disruptions. Organizations intend to harness the transformative force of Digital Transformation (DX) to remain competitive in today’s digital business arena. Why DX - because its value is compelling, and organizations can only ignore at their own peril.
Embracing digital transformation is a key priority for many companies to remain afloat and grow. It is on the agenda of executive leadership and companies are embarking on initiatives for digital. The disruptive technology updates create chao and uncertainty for organization’s future viability unless it is well organized and prepared. Hence, your business relies on IT and Enterprise Architecture (EA) to conquer the digital world.
Technologies underpinning DX are many, such as IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud, Customer Excellence, Industry 4.0, Digital Twins, Block Chain, Data Sciences, Predictive Analytics, Virtual Reality, Intelligent everything, etc., and new frontiers keep opening regularly. For IT, these bring substantial changes -Server to Serverless, Data center to Cloud, Core to Edge, Customer Experience to Digital Experience, Business Intelligence (BI) to Artificial Intelligence (AI), System of Record to System of Touch, are examples of changes upending the traditional paradigms.
What this all means for EA? The role of EA in Digital Transformation is even more important and relevant. To meet these expectations for EA, we need to remodel EA to be ready for DX, i.e. EA Transformation (EX) for Digital Transformation (DX). Best approach to navigate these uncharted waters is to start with typical roles of EA at your organization and for such each role, make concerted and methodological effort to restructure and repoint EA to enable successful DX.
Framework - Anticipate shift from traditional, heavy weight EA frameworks such as artifact or process centric frameworks to frameworks that are nimble, lean and agile such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). Redefine and revamp EA standards, processes and governance to ensure success for this newly defined framework. Similarly, modernize tenets of Architecture Review Board (ARB) to reflect DX imperatives.
Strategies and reference models that foster innovation, design thinking, and customer centricity emerge as focus areas. EA should leap frog innovation, future proof technology landscape and leverage technology to drive digital transformation. EA should become a trusted innovation advisor to CIO, CDO or CMO in technology and investment recommendations, as they are tasked to holistic organizational transformation. Increase business connectedness to align EA strategies with business strategies and be proactive to business demands.
A recent survey by McKinsey finds that when companies go all in on digitization, the number of point-to-point connections among systems rises almost 50%, the quality of business-process documentation deteriorates, and service reusability declines. EA strategy should focus on aggressively simplifying everything –i.e. rationalize portfolio to simplify, declutter. Cloud ready, mature API landscape, application portfolio rationalization, DevOps product-development methodologies etc, are some of the key foundations on which the success of digital transformation depends on.
EA should partner with key stakeholders to define a robust digital strategy, and incremental roadmap to adjust to organizational priorities and maximize asset reuse. Investment portfolio should be rebalanced to shift budgets from run and grow categories to transform category. For example, reallocate funds from traditional phone support to emerging chatbot solutions.
Execution should be nimble, swift, and agile. Determine and eliminate any barriers and road blocks to enable and accelerate Digital Transformation. Focus of the architecture and design reviews should be around simplification, and digital enablement.
With growing responsibilities, EA should aggressively delegate execution to right stakeholders and focus on enabling them to be successful. For example, citizen democratization of technology selection, Bimodal IT, rapid roll out of prototypes, etc, not only save precious EA time but also incentivize the execution team with high value opportunities.
Competencies - DX is a holistic organizational change that requires new and enhanced competencies. EA team should have a deeper understanding of emerging trends, and tread on the relentless pursuit of innovation to maintain strong innovation pipeline.
Resistance to change and agile methodologies are greatest obstacles for digital transformation. EA should embrace change and go beyond evangelizing DX and be the face of transformation.
Workforce strategies should include approaches to transform from digital savvy to digital native mindset. Training to increase digital proficiency, and learning channels focusing on innovation, soft skills, and behavioral change management can bring the team step closer to digital readiness.
Finally, Outcomes for success in digital era are different and broader. Traditional OPEX measures are inadequate measurements for DX; DX should be held to different KPIs and metrics. Every action, and deliverable, from quick wins to multi-year roadmaps should be measured with digital lens. Develop a solid business case with a combination of financial and non-financial, easy to track metrics that have ability to influence business decision making. Cross-functional value vectors such as speed to market, NPS (net promoter score), digital ROI, and enterprise TCO will be new commercial imperatives for digital transformation.
To summarize, this new era on digital frontier brings change that is swift, big and hard. In an innovation driven organization, role of EA is undisputed, but how this role is changing is the major focus area for enterprises. A comprehensive and agile approach to EA transformation is required to ensure EA’s role in successful digital transformation. Transform EA to be the pioneer of enterprise innovation and enabler of enterprise vision to harness the full value of the digital transformation. Steer the next chapter in EA journey, a long and interesting road ahead!