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Increasingly, enterprise architecture looks outward

13/01/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


The rise of public cloud adoption and digital channels is pushing enterprise architecture far beyond the bounds of the enterprise. Is it time for a "two-speed" mode?

Enterprise architecture may have recently emerged from the shadows, but it is already being challenged with missions that take it well beyond the bounds of its original enterprise box. Over the course of its existence, EA has focused on the identification of business needs and development of technology roadmaps to address inside-the-firewall corporate requirements, such as internal governance, workflow, data flow between applications, and reporting processes.

Now, EA needs to encompass the technology, services and opportunities outside the walls of enterprises. Yes, outward-facing interfaces have been part of the EA mission since its earliest days, but now, it's reaching a point in which the external is outweighing the internal. IT planners need to look at the intersection of public cloud services with on-premises systems, and, at the same time, support the emergence of customer-facing digital capabilities.

From a customer-facing perspective, EAs are now getting intimately involved in planning and managing digital strategies, along with existing internal systems. Oliver Bossert, Chris Ip, and Jürgen Laartz, all with McKinsey, point out that many organizations have extensive legacy systems wired into their organizations, yet are challenged with getting on the digital track as fast as possible. In a new post, they recommend organizations adopt a "two-speed IT architecture" that will meet the needs of planning back-end systems of record with digital front ends.

Such a two-speed strategy would consist of "a fast-speed, customer-centric front end running alongside a slow-speed, transaction-focused legacy back end," the analysts explain. Customer-facing systems should be lightweight and modular, built for quick changes. The transactional core systems of record, on the other hand, "must be designed for stability and high-quality data management, which leads to longer release cycles."

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