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Enterprise Architecture - Rationalizing an Irrational World
By Thomas Feichtinger - Chief Enterprise Architect, Novelis Inc.
• We have to support different business processes in different locations,
• These are legacy acquisition applications and technologies, or
• There is no business case for changing.
EAs are uniquely qualified and have proven techniques for identifying opportunities to rationalize, consolidate, or “right size” technologies and applications. EAs find places where processes, capabilities, and data landscapes may be simplified and commonized, which:
• Leads to higher reliability of systems,
• Lower ongoing support and operations costs, and
• Ultimately driving more efficient and profitable business operations.
The first step in The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is to develop a vision for the future. Just imagine a future where you have a single application that everyone in the organization uses to perform a function and not different applications, on different technologies. Imagine all of your data in a single data repository, with all of your major data entities mastered across the enterprise. Imagine these running in your data center or cloud on a single operating system, database, and middleware. Imagine everyone getting reports and dashboards from a single source of truth that is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. Once you have a vision of where you want to go, EAs can develop a roadmap for how to get there.
With Enterprise Architecture, the future of your processes, applications, data, and technologies can be rational
The adoption of newer technologies, such as data lakes and Big Data (Hadoop, Teradata, etc.), Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Low Code, Mobility, and others provide more opportunities for rationalization. If everyone goes out and picks different digital technologies then you end up heading in the wrong direction. It is better to do some quick (low cost) proof-of-concept or pilot projects before committing to a new technology or application and then pick one which will meet everyone’s needs. Having a standard platform or tool is more efficient and effective to keep from having application or technology sprawl in the future.
These technology spaces are evolving quickly and while there are many promising vendors and technologies being introduced, they are not going to all survive. Care in picking the right vendors and products will be important so that you do not have multiple legacy solutions from defunct companies.
Finally, Enterprise Architecture is all about aligning the business to IT, not just from the perspective of applications, data, and technologies, but also looking at the business processes. Many companies do not have the same applications globally because their business processes are different in different locations, countries, etc. However, do they need to be different? Sometimes they do need to be different due to regulatory requirements. By removing the rationalization (or lack of) for having multiple applications and technologies, and providing the business case for commonizing more efficient processes, executive stakeholders will see the benefits and efficiencies to their processes, organizations and bottom line.
With Enterprise Architecture, the future of your processes, applications, data, and technologies can be rational.