It has taken some time and effort, but enterprise architecture (EA) is firmly in the mainstream as a vital business activity, one which confers enduring competitive advantage.
This is not news for many companies, which have reaped the benefits of embracing EA, but for others it is a revelation, and they need to align their business accordingly. The early adopters have shown the way, and as the discipline begins to enjoy the recognition it so deserves, the next wave of companies is ready to embrace EA and the benefits it promises, and has already delivered to some.
The signs of industry-wide recognition and take-up are clear: Big Four and other large consultancies are recent converts, offering EA as a key discipline; the latest invocation of governance framework, COBIT 5, has explicit and direct links to EA management; South African contributions to EA are being recognised globally as industry standards; the public sector is making progress in its local adoption; and CEOs who have embraced EA and experienced its benefits are spreading the word on the executive grapevine.
And locally, EA has been embedded as a non-negotiable in the King III recommendations on corporate governance.
It’s little wonder: as far back as 2006, it was reported in MIT publication: “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy” that: “Top-performing companies define how they will do business (an operating model) and design the processes and infrastructure critical to their current and future operations (enterprise architecture), which guide the evolution of their foundation for execution.
“Then these smart companies exploit their foundation, embedding new initiatives to make that foundation stronger, and using it as a competitive weapon to seize new business opportunities. And what makes this capability a competitive advantage is that only a small percentage of companies do it well – we estimate 5% of firms or less.”
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