Enterprise Architecture set to be the next big game changer

An enterprise architecture (EA) is a conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organisation through which enterprises could effectively achieve its current and future objectives.

"The biggest challenge that enterprises are facing today are rate of change and complexity" said John Zachman, the originator of the Zachman Framework, a standard for classifying the descriptive representations or models that comprise enterprise architecture.

The environment was getting complex and if one wants to deal with complexity, it cannot be done without architecture, Zachman, underlining the need for early EA adoption, said.
"Just like you need an architect to build your building you will need someone to `engineer' your enterprise to suit the rapid changes in the business scenario", Sunil Dutta Jha, Chief Architect and CEO, ICMG, said.

In fact,inability of organisations to cope with ongoing changes may eventually drive them out of business soon."This is a serious problem and organisations, particularly large ones, are waking up to this reality and the idea of enterprise architecture is making sense now," he said.

"EA is a critical issue.It is the issue of the century" said Zachman. "Only those who adopt EA will get to stay on in this critical game. EA is going to be the next game changer. Those who do not adopt it will be wiped out out", he warned.Echoing similar views,Sunil said several large organisations which existed in a monopoly market 30 years back,did not exist today."The reason is simple, that, is they failed to survive the changes and complexity which came their way. The same is today."

"Changes are happening much faster today than what happened 30 years back.Without an engineering approach to define and build an enterprise,how could they be expected to survive next 20 years", he asked.The major factors that are driving organisations to consider EA principles more seriously, is the need for supporting heterogeneous customer base, which requires services in different formats at a reasonable cost.

"The new acquisitions and mergers, rationalized investment,consolidation of IT and other assets would require companies to apply EA principles in a careful and a methodological way", Sunil said.Enterprises could hope to manage all this complexity and change by `engineering' their enterprises."Those enterprises who master it, will rewrite history", he said while ad hoc responses to the challenges would result in "enterprises which are brittle and difficult to change and result could be anyone's guess", he said.Indian firms stand to gain big time through EA, Sunil said.

In the short term it would help them address time-to-market issues, effecively create service innovations,gradation in service offerings and ensure more transparent decison making, among others.Eventually, it would provide tools and insight for firms to make predictions about the future and prepare them for accommodating change in effective and respond in timely manner.Several organisations in India have already begun using EA to optimise deployment of resources. In a recently concluded architecture awards,several Indian companies,including Aircel, MTS, Reliance Globalcom, Reliance Life Insurance,ITC infotech, Tata Motors bagged awards.Interesting work is also happening in LG Electronics, Tata Sky and HDFC in EA, Sunil said."Though adoption is slow we expect majority of firms in India to have a formal EA team in place by 2012, by which we mean actual practice not just labels", he said.

Telecom operators, banking and financial sectors are being seen as early EA adopters. In telecom sector where growth has been unprecedented with addition of capacity,the journey to become `lean' could be achieved only through discipline of EA.

Overseas, EA had already percolated to government sectors. In the US, federal law requires that every government department must create EA which includes agencies like FBI. Countries like Singapore have seen EA adoption induction while in UAE, Abu Dhabi Judicial department has adopted it."Hopefully in Indian government set up, EA practice will be adopted formally",Sunil said.In the Information revolution, some will make it and some won't. Enterprises will have to figure out how to play the new game, if they have to survive, Zachman said.CEOS will have to be chief enterprise architectures not just strategist in the new scenario, the duo assert.

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