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Digital Business Architecture – Enterprise Architecture and Digital Transformation

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Digital Business Architecture

Digital Business Architecture refers to the use of Business Architecture for purposes of planning Digital Transformation, and the expertise offers the fundamental mechanism for improving IT organization maturity, most notably formally establishing an explicit link between IT and business strategy.

As Daniel Lambert writes for CIO.com BA can be used to understand all the operational dynamics of an organization that need adapted to enable Digital Transformation.

In the featured video Thomas Squeo, the SVP for Digital Transformation at West Corporation, relays how it is central to defining and implementing their core business models, addressing the full scope of ‘Concept to Cash’.

Transitioning from a services to a product company, they were seeking to identify corporate efficiencies and also simultaneously mature the IT organization from an operational to a strategic function, integral to realizing an overall business transformation.

BA plays a keystone role of connecting the dots between business leaders and the technical teams, and the IT developments needed to support major goals such as consolidating brands and business units under a single umbrella.

Enterprise-wide Agile

For many IT organizations that are traditionally organized into ‘stovepipes’ around specific technologies and applications, meaning this layer of alignment is lacking and subject to departmental rigidity that inhibits innovation.

DBA defines a transformation to new ways of working and team structures that explicitly aligns resources and activities to the required strategic drivers.

Notably it includes models that enable and support the enterprise-wide scaling of Agile practices. For example McKinsey describes new roles for the CIO including acting more as a Product Owner, and that they should “Build a non-hierarchical culture with room for lateral movement.”

Boston Consulting explores the challenges involved in this transformation for large organizations, to achieve ‘Agile at Scale’.

“While many organizations have teams working in an agile way, very few businesses have been able to implement this model across their entire enterprise. As companies move from implementing agile on individual projects to portfolios and, ultimately, to an entire business, more and more core processes need to be adapted—a significant operational challenge in itself.”

They defined Five Ways to Scale up Agile and Business Architecture skills and tools can provide the enabling framework for this transformation.

Enterprise Architecture

A first key question to ask is how this relates to Enterprise Architecture. Most organizations already have well established EA teams, but often these are mainly technical in nature, focused on aspects like software architecture guidelines; the business alignment to executive strategy is still missing.

This presentation Aligning Business Architecture to TOGAF takes on this question, exploring the specific connect with TOGAF and making a number of key mappings, in particular how BA designs like Capability Maps can be transposed on to EA designs such as a SOA (Service Oriented Architecture).

MIT Sloan describes a framework of Nine Elements of Digital Transformation that lists a number of key enabling Strategies and Capabilities that BA provides the methodology for planning how to overlay and integrate into existing corporate structures, and in Three Steps to Success, McKinsey repeat the central point about the essential dynamic of this interface that maps these to IT systems design:

“To make a digital transformation happen, you need complete alignment—from the board through the executive team through the whole organization. Without that “air cover” from the board and from shareholders who understand the change that you’re taking the organization through, it is very, very hard to do it successfully.”

CIO.com also writes in the Evolution of the Business Architect that they key function of the Business Architect is to act as ‘translator’, and that while traditionally they’ve sat within the EA team, this function is more successful when they become an active part of the line of business teams.

The Cloud Best Practices Network is a global practitioner community for Digital Transformation and Cloud Computing.

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