Enterprise modeling (or enterprise architecture) started off in the technology world, with the CIO and others needing to make sound investment decisions about enterprise wide infrastructure (such as mainframes, networks, etc). These decisions involved resources which would support multiple change initiatives and where it would be “unfair” and “unjustifiable” for the initiating project to bear the full cost of the resource. Equally, there was a need to ensure that these enterprise wide and longer-term investments would prove to be sustainable investments in situations where future project requirements were not well defined or understood. Hence, the strong technical focus during the “childhood” years of enterprise architecture.
In its adolescent years, enterprise models incorporated business models AND technical models, such that the technical investments were informed by business considerations and were more “business aligned” or “business driven”.
In the early adult years (now), greater attention is being given to modeling business capabilities over technical capabilities. Further, business architects are being more strongly valued and technical architects are being found to be deficient in meeting the enterprise modeling needs in rapidly changing times, where businesses need to be able to respond to market disruptions in much shorter timeframes than was previously the case.
In such an environment, questions are starting to arise as to the balance of effort between modeling the business capabilities versus modeling the technical capabilities. I recently indicated that I expected the demands for technical modeling would reduce due to greater use of “cloud services”, and then was given cause to provide the following explanation for why I thought so.
With the increasing alignment between business and technical capabilities, there will be less need to architect the technical capabilities. These will progressively become tightly defined capabilities which can be easily and effectively used by business capabilities.
Business agility will come through the flexibility to mix and match business and technical capabilities to meet changing market needs. Put a different way – agile businesses will become plug-and-play business capabilities with the supporting technical capabilities being enablers rather than barriers – architecture is needed moreso when there is poor alignment.
What do you think?