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What Is Enterprise Architecture? A Practical Definition

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There’s a reason more and more companies are migrating to the cloud and incorporating IoT technologies and artificial intelligence into their infrastructure. The tools deliver a number of benefits, like increased productivity, faster development cycles, and richer data that leads to better decisions. Suffice to say that every leading organization today is embracing digital transformation. As a result, those that are slower to adapt are increasingly likely to be left behind.

However, the path that companies take on their digital transformation journeys is often fragmented. By and large, today’s strongest companies are scrambling to keep up with the rapid pace of technological evolution. 

Why is that? 

The answer is relatively straightforward. It turns out that many companies are held back by a lack of insight about the bigger picture of where they want to go—especially when it comes to their technological infrastructure. 

For example, let’s say an IT department has been using the same old database architecture for the last several years. They know that an on-premises relational database management system no longer cuts it and are looking to migrate to a new solution. Developers and engineers spend countless hours on the project looking to find the best way forward. Finally, they identify a solution. Months or potentially even years pass until the updated database system is complete. 

But by that point, a more efficient database solution is already on the market. What’s more, customers and internal business users are asking for features that the company’s new database doesn’t have (e.g., tunable consistency and automatic failover).

Enterprise Architecture: A Better Way Forward

At this point, what should the IT department do? Should they start all over again? If not, what steps can they take to avoid this disconnect in the future?

This is where enterprise architecture (EA) enters the equation. With the right approach to EA, it’s possible for IT teams to avoid costly missteps like the hypothetical scenario described above. 

If you’re interested in learning more about EA, you’ve come to the right place. This post will explore everything you need to know about EA, including what it is, what its benefits are, what it looks like in action, and more. 

What Is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise architecture is an IT framework that guides an organization’s digital transformation initiatives. EA is a holistic approach that in many ways mimics how architects lay out plans for a building. 

In the past, companies might have made somewhat random investments in technology, hoping for the best. EA represents a better way forward. It’s a proactive approach that ensures an organization’s IT investments align with and help them achieve their business goals. 

What’s more, EA enables organizations to account for future disruption caused by new technologies while still pursuing its objectives. By developing a plan for what reliable infrastructure should look like and building something that’s extensible and customizable to last into the future, organizations can make shrewd technological investments with purpose instead of just throwing money at new tools and hoping to get amazing outcomes.

With the right approach to EA, businesses are more nimble, more efficient, and more profitable. 

By now, we’ve got our definitions down. So, let’s turn our attention to how, specifically, enterprise architecture can help organizations like yours improve results.

What Are the Benefits of Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture Benefits

Businesses across all industries are increasingly implementing EA due its numerous benefits it provides. Let’s take a look at some of the main ones.

1. Increased Alignment

Organizations that successfully implement EA will increase IT transparency among their various teams. This is because all employees—from the IT department to customer success managers—have access to the same plans and can see what the future looks like. 

In addition, team members across different business units can offer suggestions as to what the best way forward might look like. And if adjustments or changes are required, they can happen quickly, and everyone stays in the loop. 

Altogether, this translates into increased alignment among team members. At the same time, businesses are much more likely to make IT investments that actually help them meet their goals. As a result, the right approach to EA can help teams work better together and move toward the same goals faster.

2. Increased Collaboration

An effective EA plan requires contributions from more than just the IT department. 

With that in mind, teams across the entire organization will be encouraged to contribute to the company’s plans. The more front-line employees involved in the process, the better. 

Add it all up, and this results in increased employee engagement and better project outcomes.

3. Faster Software Delivery

Enterprise architecture initiatives can help businesses supercharge their approach to enterprise software development

For example, by successfully incorporating the benefits of real-time analytics and artificial intelligence into DevOps workflows, businesses are able to streamline the complex decision-making process of software development. 

As a result, they can accelerate development lifecycles and reduce error in the coding process. At the same time, businesses can also figure out the most efficient ways to allocate computing resources and IT investments, making sure their teams have the right tools for the job and are in the right places at the best times.

4. Reduced Costs

EA helps organizations bring its technological developments to market faster. At the same time, it helps organizations avoid unwise or unproductive IT investments. In turns, this helps them realize ROI much faster.

In other words, EA helps organizations save significantly on development costs and IT investments. By making the right investments in new technologies, businesses can become more profitable. At the same time, organizations also save money when they spin down legacy infrastructure that costs more to maintain.

By making smart, planned-out investments in technology instead of just trying things out and seeing how they work, organizations can reduce future technology investments. They’ll always have access to an efficient and lean computing infrastructure that can grow with their needs over time.

At this point, you understand why more and more organizations are prioritizing EA. Next, we’ll shift our attention to some EA use cases to see this powerful approach to IT in action.

Example of Enterprise Architecture in Action

EA sounds great and all. But what does it look like in action? 

Here are three use cases to give you a better idea.

1. Restructuring Tech Infrastructure

When an enterprise needs to restructure its IT systems, EA can provide a helpful roadmap for both IT teams and other business units to follow. 

With EA, the overall objectives of the enterprise are clearly defined. At the same time, each team is able to see where exactly they fit in to the bigger picture. 

2. Mergers and Acquisitions

If your company is in the process of merging with another business, EA can help you figure out how to merge the tech stacks of two companies together. 

For example, clear diagrams in an EA framework can highlight which areas of the two businesses overlap, where they intersect, where they complement one another, and where they are inefficient. 

In this light, companies going through mergers or acquisitions can use EA to save considerable time and resources building and consolidating efficient infrastructure.

3. Insourcing and Outsourcing

One of the trickiest aspects to managing your IT systems is making the decision between building tools in house or purchasing them from third-party vendors. 

EA can help you determine the tools and infrastructure you can handle in-house and which you should rely on other vendors for.

Enterprise Architecture and Your Business

Now that you have an understanding for what EA is and how it works, you might be wondering how your business can start implementing it.

Well, you’re in luck.

Plutora is a leading enterprise value stream management platform. The company helps businesses streamline the delivery of software development and refine their approach to enterprise architecture. 

To learn more about how Plutora can help your business build efficient architecture that delivers rapid ROI and business agility, check this out

Justin Reynolds Justin Reynolds

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.