A significant part of the Chief Information Officer’s role is ensuring that IT aligns with the business objectives. However, while transformation has long been a buzzword in the IT industry, enterprise architecture is often pushed towards the bottom of the priority list.
“Enterprise architecture is about the technology and knowledge base that helps modern businesses remain responsive and successful,” explains Gerald Naidoo, CEO of specialist systems integration house Logikal Consulting. “There are many challenges facing today’s enterprises, but perhaps the most significant is change – from frequent, and sometime unpredictable technological and economic changes, to environmental change. A well-planned, well-executed enterprise architecture allows companies to assimilate any of these change factors with minimum time, minimum disruption and minimum cost.”
Enterprise architecture is not new. Created to address the increasing complexity of IT systems and their poor alignment with business goals decades ago, enterprise architecture allows IT decisions and implementations to add strategic and measurable value to a company.
This is particularly important in highly unpredictable and regulated industries like the financial sector, says Naidoo. “By allowing access for the appropriate stakeholders, enterprise architecture enables effective business and IT alignment. Elements like governance and reporting reach across the entire organisation, and the eternal disconnect between IT and business is removed. While this is essential in any business, it makes the difference between those financial services companies that lead the pack and those that follow two steps behind.”
He adds that in the financial services industry, IT is often not seen as strategic, and CIOs spend a huge portion of their time proving value and ROI. “Enterprise architecture is based on the premise that the components regulating business are inseparable from the IT components that facilitate the business. By aligning resources, costs, and activities or tasks, large financial services organisations are freed up to focus on growth and moving their businesses into the future.”
According to Naidoo, the uncertainty around what enterprise architecture is meant to achieve is one of the core reasons for the failure of many enterprise architecture implementations. In addition, confusion around the difference between enterprise architecture and technology architecture muddies the water further.
“Some companies lose the plot with the sophisticated frameworks most enterprise architecture implementations are based on. Because many business executives have a limited understanding of technology, these complex reference architectures are ignored. This is one illustration of the disconnect that must be bridged between business and IT, because the result is that many enterprise architecture implementations do not go further than the IT department.”
Logikal Consulting’s expertise in this arena is one of the reasons the company was selected for a full enterprise architecture implementation at one of South Africa’s biggest banks. “We have focused on ensuring that technology standards, roadmaps and solid engineering practices will produce simpler and more affordable solutions, which are easier to support. The success of any enterprise architecture initiative rests on aligning IT investments with business goals. Through a structured, skilled approach, an enterprise can use technology innovation to transform into an innovative, agile leader.”
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