The structure of the enterprise
‘Enterprise architecture’ can be a misleading term. Since its inception in the early 1990s, it has developed in three successive waves:
- first wave: EA = IT technical architecture (TA) – reduce complexity and cost of IT systems
- increased convergence consolidates purchasing, lowers training costs, etc
- second wave: EA = Enterprise-Wide IT Architecture (EWITA) – support collaboration among different parts of the enterprise:
- shared access to information across business and with partners / customers
- elimination of duplication across different functions or business units
- address concerns that cut across business units, such as IT-system integration
- third wave: EA = EWITA + Business Architecture (EITA+EBA) – increase enterprise agility and alignment with business strategy
- enable changes in business strategy with quick-response changes in enabling processes and technology solutions
- inform strategy more effectively with strategic paths to identify and integrate technology-enabled opportunities (and threats)
Although these earlier waves of development brought real benefits to business, one of the less successful characteristics was uncertainty over aims, leading to a lack of trust between business and IT. It’s only through the new insights of whole-of-organisation integration that the ‘disconnect’ between business and IT can be bridged:
- fourth wave: EA = whole-of-enterprise architecture (WEA) – increase integration across value-webs, infrastructures, multi-role / multi-partner enterprises
- emphasis on overall effectiveness rather than single-point ‘efficiency’
- increase overall agility, adaptability, responsiveness, resilience, management of opportunity / risk
- increase synergies between processes and partners
- increase overall engagement in innovation, productivity, quality
For more information, see the presentation Whole-of-enterprise architecture: Extending enterprise-architecture beyond IT (PDF: 1150kb).
See the Tetradian Books website for Real Enterprise Architecture: beyond IT to the whole enterprise and other books by Tom Graves on whole-of-enterprise architecture.
See that website also for other enterprise-architecture tools such as a Function Model stencil for Visio-2003: descriptive notes and Visio 2003 stencil and template on how to create a Functional Business Model, packaged in a ZIP folder.
You’ll also find more information on enterprise-architecture in the Downloads section.
For more information, see the presentation Architecture as system: Enterprise-architecture, service-architecture and the Viable System Model (PDF: 455kb) – Using system-theory to extend and simplify whole-of-organisation service-oriented architectures.