Enhancing Business Performance Through Enterprise Architecture

We are redefining and rejuvenating the BCS Enterprise Architecture Specialist Group these days. Since last elections the newly elected committee is driving a new, refreshing agenda of events, calls, and social media to bring some new thinking through this important EA group with the sponsorship of the BCS.

In my capacity as the Events and Communications Officer of this group, I am playing my small part in this venture. Last week (13 Dec 2010) we hosted a very successful event at the Southampton Street offices of BCS. Chris Potts, a well acknowledged Enterprise Architecture Thought-leader, speaker, author, mentor shared his views on how Enterprise Architects can rise above technology challenges to drive a true business performance.

From the outset Chris linked the practice of Enterprise Architecture (EA) with the art of building architecture drawing striking similarities and differences between these two streams of architectures. "A building can not change its architecture an enterprise can" was a simple message which set the tone of the evening.

Then as Chris does best, he walked the audience through various aspects of corporate strategy, formal and informal EA, the scope of EA, guiding ratios and measure of success though a fictional dialogue between a company CEO, CFO and an Enterprise Architect. This is a very unique presentation style which Chris also follows in his writing which makes relating to the themes and theories of EA easier and entertaining.

Some of the key messages from this session were;

  • Enterprises can change their architecture
  • Enterprise Architecture does not stand isolated, it needs corporate strategy to enable it
  • Strategy is a means of changing world or sometime staying still (when change is forced)
  • Ruthless execution of strategy is not possible without resources
  • Strategy is a pattern of behaviour (Mintzberg)
  • Strategy premise drives Key Principles which in turn drives Core Tactics
  • Formal and Informal EA can be bought together by a process of establishing, exploring, activating and application
  • Two views are critical in defining the scope of EA - Outside In and Inside Out
  • Outside In view is Market / Customer led while the Inside Out is Business led
  • Guiding Ratios are key in setting performance metrics of the Enterprise
  • Combining the Outside In and Inside Out view is key to the success of EA
  • Key EA measures establish the ultimate way to judge the success of EA
  • Structural measure of performance are different than operational performance

One of the outstanding comments which Chris made towards the end of the session was simple yet powerful, “The CEO is the Chief Enterprise Architect and that the purpose of EA is to enhance the performance of the Enterprise.”

He did not mention Information Technology, Standards, Processes, and Tools even once during the evening. Through out the evening he simply kept linking EA with Corporate Strategy. During the lively Q&A session I did quiz Chris on his omission of the above obvious technical EA aspects. And as only he does, in simple understated style Chris replied, “That was the point, I did not want them to think about the obvious!” Marvellous speakers, Marvellous Event and we are off to a great start of Events calendar of the BCS EA Specialist Group.

You can contact, follow, communicate and read more about Chris on http://www.dominicbarrow.com/

Comments (2)

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  • 1
    Saman WImaladasa wrote on 6th Jan 2011

    Seems to be an excellent presentation. I think EA architecture will plays a major role in a future enterprises. Creating an awareness about the EA discipline among the corporates are essential and mostly corporates mis-understand that EA is a technical discipline. If senior executives can understand the importance of EA and modeling the enterprise according to the EA, their organizations can enjoy immense benefit out of it.

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  • 2
    Jeremy Hall wrote on 20th Jan 2011

    If you didn't get a chance to hear Chris Potts speak he is presenting his seminar the Corporate Strategy for IT from 5-6 April. Full details can be found at http://www.irmuk.co.uk/events/41.cfm

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About the author
Amitabh is a senior enterprise architecture practitioner who specialises in business and technology strategy definition, governance, architecture as well as methods and tools. He is an active industry networker, blogger, speaker and contributor to the advancement of enterprise architecture discipline. Currently he is the Chief Technology Officer in Fujitsu Services Private Sector Division.

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