Five ways understanding enterprise architecture can help futureproof your business

November 4, 2020

What do we mean when we talk about enterprise architecture?

We’re talking about having a clear idea of how capabilities, functions and processes in the business work to deliver your business goals and how they’re connected – whether that’s business operations, organisation structures, software, hardware or anything else.

Enterprise architecture is also closely linked with your organisation’s culture. It acknowledges the way you do things and whether they happen differently in reality to what you set out on paper. For example, many organisations fall into the trap of a ‘fix it now, build it later’ mentality. This creates a stay-afloat culture rather than staying ahead.

It’s also crucial to point out that DevOps or agile aren’t types of architecture – they’re methodologies that improve time to market. While they describe how to build, enterprise architecture describes what to build and how to build it right the first time. Enterprise architecture gives you direction and strategy of how to get there efficiently.

By taking the time to examine, understand and build the right architecture, you’ll lay the foundations to futureproof your business going forward.

Understanding your architecture means:

1. You know where you’re going

Enterprise architecture will allow you to set out a roadmap for your business of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. This means you can align the business vision with the processes, capabilities and technologies needed to achieve it.

If you don’t understand your architecture, it’s extremely likely you will end up spending on quick wins; fuelling reactive, not proactive, decision-making that isn’t coherent.

Without a clear roadmap to guide you, there’s a lack of control and things happen organically. This can be a good thing, but your enterprise architecture can easily become cluttered and inconsistent, which puts customers off. You lose your competitive advantage by not driving a unique product offering.

Start by setting out your vision for three to five years – this might be to achieve better control of costs, to be data-driven, or to understand how to create better digital products – but be ready for it to evolve as the business does.

2. You apply technology assets in the right way 

Enterprise architecture will enable you to know what assets you have and what you’re doing with them. Then understand how that helps you achieve your business goals.

We’re hearing more and more that data is the new oil. If data is going to be a key asset for you, you need to know what data you’ve got and how to futureproof it. For example, by creating better customer data profiles to allow for better customer relationships in the future.

Consider what’s stopping you from using your asset – often data is not useable due to being siloed and unreachable in legacy systems and complex formats. This means that even if you collect lots of data, you’re unable to derive insight from it.

Often, data is not at a high enough standard for you to be confident in the intelligence you derive from it. At worst, its poor-quality stops you from deriving any intelligence at all. Well-thought-out enterprise architecture will guide you to make the right investment decisions that allow you to apply and improve your data capture technologies across customer channels, driving better data quality.

By knowing how you want to be able to use your data in the future, you’re able to make decisions today to start building architecture that makes that possible.

3. You understand your risks and how to protect against them

Every business and technology leader wants to protect their organisation and operations from both internal and external risks. You want to ensure you’re protecting the assets you need and adhere to all the regulation to make that possible. Well-defined enterprise architecture will lay out the risks clearly and recommend mitigations.

Not understanding regulations is in itself a huge risk for your businesses. Today’s organisations are continuously exposed to ever-evolving cyber security and data risks. Your architecture will allow you to see what you need to do to be compliant for each part of the business – whether that’s FCA regulations or GDPR – and be secured against all cyber security risks.

Once you have a map of the regulations you need to comply with and the risks your assets are exposed to, you’re able to develop coherent policies and solutions to proactively address them.

4. You invest in the right things

By knowing where you want to get to, you can know the right things to invest in and what you need to do to get there.

Having a clear understanding of your architecture means you can clearly understand your differentiators and improve your competitive advantage in the market.

Without enterprise architecture, you risk investing in a kaleidoscope of incoherent things that don’t contribute to your overall strategy. This creates confusion both within the business, as different areas begin to focus on their own ideas, and for customers, who don’t understand who you are or what makes you unique in the market.

5. You have governance over decision making

By defining the target and the roadmap, enterprise architecture sets out milestones and timescales clearly, while taking into account what has to happen to get there and acknowledging what came before. It provides you with a sense of scale to evaluate your progress against. If you achieved two crucial things in a year, is that good or bad?

Without this, there’s no real way to monitor progress or govern decisions that are made and their influence on the overall business.

6point6 can help you understand your architecture

At 6point6 we do things differently. Our 6point6 methodology means we can get right to the crux of your architecture, build it right and bake in security at every stage.

To start a conversation about what we can do for your enterprise architecture, contact get in touch.

Dnyanesh Kale
Advisory Director