CEOs accountable for enterprise architecture

The importance of enterprise architecture as a strategic business capability, and even as a source of competitive advantage.

March 27, 2014

The importance of enterprise architecture as a strategic business capability, and even as a source of competitive advantage, is becoming increasingly well understood. It’s also been fuelled by King III and COBIT 5 making the CEO accountable for enterprise architecture.

Stuart Macgregor, CEO of Real IRM and The Open Group South Africa, discusses how a synergistic approach between corporate and IT governance, and enterprise architecture can increase an organisation’s value while reducing cost.
“The enterprise architecture process fuses the business model imperatives and the IT portfolio,” said Macgregor. “This provides vision alignment and a shared understanding of the business drivers behind technology initiatives, and how IT can enable new and possibly even disruptive business models.”

“Governance and organisational change leadership are fundamental in entrenching enterprise architecture into an organisation,” he added. “Without these, enterprise architecture will remain a theoretical concept that will fail to deliver the desired business benefits. This necessitates greater collaboration and cross-discipline understanding between the business process owners, strategic planning, compliance, audit, risk and security functions and the chief architect.”

On King III, Macgregor reiterated that good governance is essentially about effective leadership. “Responsible leaders direct company strategies and operations with a view to achieving sustainable economic, social and environmental performance,” he said. “Sustainability is the primary moral and economic imperative of the 21st century. It is one of the most important sources of both opportunities and risks for businesses.”

Macgregor noted that a recent King III survey indicated that most respondents believed that IT governance had improved the alignment of IT with the performance objectives of the business. “Effective IT governance is the single most important predictor of the value an organisation generates from IT,” he said.

COBIT, A governance and management framework for information and related technology, was designed to enable enterprises to create optimal value from information and technology by maintaining equilibrium between realising benefits, managing risk and balancing resources.

“With King III and COBIT as the drivers of increasing enterprise architecture adoption, top-performing companies are defining how they will do business and designing the processes and infrastructure critical to their current and future operations – the enterprise architecture. They have the ability to exploit their foundation, embedding new initiatives to make that foundation stronger, and using it as a competitive differentiator to grab hold of new business opportunities. What makes this capability a competitive advantage is that only a small percentage of companies do it well.”

Referring to TOGAF, the architecture framework developed by The Open Group to provide the methods and tools for assisting in the acceptance, production, use and maintenance of an enterprise architecture, Macgregor concluded that enterprise architecture enables alignment, integration, change and reduced time to market. “It does so by producing a future-state architecture that supports the requirements of the business strategy and external environmental factors, documentation of the present architecture, a gap analysis that identifies the shortfalls in the current state in terms of its ability to support strategy, and a roadmap to take the organisation from its current state into the future, desired state.”