Just like the businesses it supports, Enterprise Architecture (EA) is constantly evolving in this ever-shifting market. To help organizations capitalize on new opportunities, EA must keep pace with current Enterprise Architecture trends – and predict future ones.
At Ardoq, we continually track industry trends as they emerge and grow. It helps us answer important questions like: What recent technology trends are important to Enterprise Architecture?
From an Enterprise Architect to a CIO or COO, everyone in an organization wants to answer these critical questions and navigate change smoothly. We’ve compiled learnings from experts in digital transformation so customers can deliver more change and innovation faster, give greater value to the market, and achieve their objectives.
1. Utilize the Latest Technology to Enhance Enterprise Architecture Practice
AI has taken the world by storm, and its influence and potential in Enterprise Architecture is no exception to the expectations that teams have for its use in the EA field. There are two aspects to the EA trend of incorporating AI:
Improve EA Work by Using AI
Using semantic technologies makes Enterprise Architecture work more accessible to the wider organization. AI suggestions can, for example, provide automatic creation of connections. EA teams can enforce EA principles through rules inferencing and use information to fine-tune conversational AIs. All of this is part of the trend to improve techniques and tools with the fast-changing innovations in the AI space.
Increase the Adoption of AI in the Organization Through EA Practices
Enterprises have been eager to explore AI innovation but struggle to find a clear return on investment. Organizations also struggle to ensure AI is used responsibly.
The companies that utilize EA techniques ensure a strong business case for AI investment. EA techniques can enforce compliance of AI policies and ensure data for AI is being used appropriately.
Questions to ask to support the business case around AI in EA:
- How can AI take over repetitive tasks to allow focus on strategic design work?
- How can EA work be used to enforce policies on the effective use of AI in the enterprise?
- How can EA ensure business case-driven return on investment for AI activities in a fast-changing field?
2. Map the Social Aspects of Architecture
Architecture’s social aspects are becoming increasingly important. All organizations - not just those with significant IT development - are starting to embrace digitalization as a means of development and growth. This means combining people with traditional architectural components. By putting people on the map, the organization’s social design becomes apparent, showing social interactions, autonomy, mastery, and the purpose of the people.
It’s beneficial for teams to see their organization and where, when, and how handoffs occur between teams. In addition, understanding the social aspects helps identify and fix pain points between teams and processes.
Change in Mindset to Use Enterprise Architecture in New Ways
Using the social aspects of architecture means thinking beyond Enterprise Architecture as a way to view only technological systems, such as the enterprise's applications and information.
Now, EA takes on a new role by facilitating the understanding that an organization’s people are vital actors in the enterprise. In addition, employees are happier and perform better for the organization when they have a stronger sense of purpose and mastery over solutions. Using EA can help a company treat people as people, not machines.
Benefits of Seeing the Social Technical Picture
A workflow map shows how people interact. This overview can help adjust and optimize key workflows while identifying areas that create bottlenecks or problems. As problems are alleviated, it’s possible to deliver successful and continuous change.
With the big-picture view of a company’s social and technical architecture, teams' workflows can be better organized, and they can work more independently. This additional independence allows teams to decide faster and own their work, making them happier and more productive.
3. Adapt the Way-of-Working
Most Enterprise Architects endlessly tweak their systems to improve change delivery. As with all things in life, the changes aren't perfect the first time around, and adapting is essential. Each round of change, however small, ultimately improves the system.
Many trends overlap and adapting ways-of-working ties in with using the social aspects of the architecture described above. Organizations can track the history of change initiatives to see the applications, processes, and information impacted over time. Understanding how the change works gives leaders vital information to make decisions.
By tracking people, teams, and departments, organizational and communication pathways become clear. Over time, the tracking shows patterns of where change occurs. When it’s clear where change is happening and failing, the patterns can guide the reorganization of teams. It can also help teams work as independently as possible, improve cross-team coordination, and aid prioritization.
Interested in seeing more of the big picture of mixing social aspects into technical architectures? Check out 5 Trends in Enterprise Architecture.
4. Build Teams With a Product-Focus
Traditionally, organizations build teams around projects, focusing on pulling talent into a temporary team on a fixed budget. When the project ends, the team often dissolves without receiving any feedback on the project’s results.
Successful IT-intensive organizations recognize the need for continuous change and have shifted their mindset towards continuous value delivery. As a result, teams are organized along product boundaries rather than functions or projects. The goal is to have long-lived, agile, and semi-independent teams continuously deliver for one product area or value stream.
Two Sides of the Coin: Product-Focused Teams
Product-focused teams have advantages and disadvantages as with every way of doing business. For example:
- + Less need for centralized control and decision-making. With increased independence, teams have increased production.
- - There are always issues that pop up along the way. To solve these problems, teams need to coordinate and prioritize differently.
The Benefit of Teams Built With a Product Focus
Mindset plays a vital role in any change initiative. Agile companies in today’s business environment require a product mindset. Focusing on the product rather than a specific project makes teams better meet customer needs and adapt when the business context changes.
These teams also have longevity and work towards the gradual delivery of features. By assessing the success or failure of small steps, teams can receive feedback faster and adjust their work accordingly. In addition, success is measured by the benefit to the company rather than project milestones. Overall, the team’s flexibility lowers the risk of failing to deliver on investments.
Enterprise Architecture Trends
New and disruptive technologies are constant. Businesses operate in complex domains and chaotic environments. Organizations need, therefore, to be more dynamic, better adapted, and respond faster. Leaders need to know what technology trends impact enterprise architecture.
- Map the Social Aspects of Architecture
Including people in the Enterprise Architecture empowers an organization to improve how change is delivered. With it, organizations can deliver successful and continuous change and give team members a more prominent, active role in achieving goals.
- Adapt the Way-of-Working
By adapting their way of working based on past projects' success or failure, organizations can quickly change within the business context. Adapting makes the company more agile when reacting to changes in the external business environment.
- Build Teams With a Product-Focus
Instead of having business and IT in separate project silos, teams can be built with a product focus. The product teams usually have better delivery on long-term investments and smaller milestones. Their agility allows them to adjust their goals faster based on more frequent feedback.
4. Incorporate AI Through Enterprise Architecture
The AI space is moving fast and changing constantly. Organizations that utilize EA techniques can enforce AI policy compliance and ensure data for AI is being used appropriately, regardless of the changes that come.
Read more about the current trends and how to use them in an ever-shifting technical landscape in 5 Trends in Enterprise Architecture.