By Erik Brown and Tyson Hartman, Both Andersen Alumni

Erik Brown is a senior director in West Monroe’s Technology practice in Chicago. He began his career with Arthur Andersen in 1999. Tyson Hartman is a senior director and member of West Monroe’s Strategic Growth team in Seattle. He began his career with Andersen Consulting in 1993.

Many business executives are eager to establish artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies to help their organizations to improve business agility, speed, and innovation. Their demands, however, are straining technology organizations tasked with trying to implement new tools within existing enterprise architecture. The problem is, today’s technology organizations simply aren’t built in a way that allows them to move quickly.

Before companies can take advantage of emerging technology, they must change their approach to enterprise architecture. This requires more than technology changes. It requires transformation of the enterprise architecture skills, organizational structure, culture, and expectations – and, indeed, the very role and stature of enterprise architects in the business.

While most organizations understand that the process of building software has become more agile, they still look at architecture as a static planning exercise – with complex diagrams of how technologies fit together to run aspects of the business – that changes very little from year to year.

Modern architecture, on the other hand, is fluid and flexible, capable of adapting incrementally in weeks or months rather than several years. Development occurs in repetitive cycles rather than as a defined “process.” Business vision and value creation are the impetus for all technical decisions, and the modern enterprise architect is an active participant in those discussions with the business. For example, the enterprise architect who is involved in discussions with the business about entering a new market to test a potential revenue stream can then design ways to perform the test incrementally. Modern architecture allows this addition to the system without impacting established areas of the business.

The challenge is figuring out how to shift the organization from traditional enterprise architecture to modern enterprise architecture without disrupting current business. From our experience working with organizations to implement emerging technologies, we have found it beneficial to focus on these five areas to establish:

  1. The right level of “voice” and leadership for enterprise architecture within the organization
  2. The right organizational structure that aligns teams with product or business owners rather than technology disciplines
  3. The right talent with business acumen and skills for working in environments that require creativity, change, and autonomy
  4. The right culture, where it is okay to experiment and to approach development without the “perfect” design in mind
  5. The right roadmap that orchestrates the shift to modern architecture in incremental steps and delivers value in months rather than years

Like the technology architecture itself, the transformation process does not have to be fully defined and vetted in order to make meaningful progress. We can help think through strategies for maximizing the value of existing infrastructure investments while improving your ability to use emerging technology to respond to change.

To learn more, download the full report, “Modern Enterprise Architecture: Five Things You Must Do Right to Help Your Organization Benefit from Emerging Technologies,” here.