Stephan Aier


Virtual Decoupling for IT/Business Alignment – Conceptual Foundations, Architecture Design and Implementation Example

IT/business alignment is one of the main topics of information systems research. If IT artifacts and business-related artifacts are coupled point-to-point, however, complex architectures become unmanageable over time. In computer science, concepts like the ANSI/SPARC three-level database architecture propose an architecture layer which decouples external views on data and the implementation view of data. In this paper, a similar approach for IT/business alignment is proposed. The proposed alignment architecture is populated by enterprise services as elementary artifacts. Enterprise services link software components and process activities. They are aggregated into applications and subsequently into domains for planning/design and communication purposes. Most design approaches for the construction of enterprise services, applications and domains are top-down, i. e. they decompose complex artifacts on a stepwise basis. As an alternative which takes into account coupling semantics, we propose a bottom-up approach which is demonstrated for the identification of domains. Our approach is evaluated using a telecommunications equipment case study.

Revisiting the Impact of Information Systems Architecture Complexity: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective

Organizations constantly adapt their Information Systems (IS) architecture to reflect changes in their environment. In general, such adaptations steadily increase the complexity of their IS architecture, thereby negatively impacting IS efficiency and IS flexibility. Based on a Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) perspective, we present a more differentiated analysis of the impact of IS architecture complexity. We hypothesize the relation between IS architecture complexity on the one hand, and IS efficiency and IS flexibility on the other hand to be mediated by evolutionary and revolutionary IS change. Subsequently, we test our hypotheses through a partial least squares (PLS) approach to structural equation modelling (SEM) based on survey data from 185 respondents. We find that the direct negative impact of IS architecture complexity on IS efficiency and IS flexibility is no longer statistically relevant when also considering the mediating effects of revolutionary and evolutionary IS change.

A Learning Perspective on Enterprise Architecture Management

Enterprise architecture management (EAM) has long been propagated in research and practice as an approach for keeping local information systems projects in line with enterprise-wide, long-term objectives. EAM literature predominantly promotes strictly governed and centralized coordination mechanisms to achieve the promised alignment contributions. Notwithstanding the increasing maturity levels in practice, organizations still struggle with the successful establishment of EAM, mainly due to the inherent challenges of a firmly centralized approach in complex organizational settings. This study opts for cooperative learning as a theoretical lens to afford a distinctive, non-centralized conceptualization of EAM. We empirically demonstrate EAM as a stage-wise learning process in which knowledge acquisition and cooperative interactions among individuals contribute to project performance on the local level. Projects that benefit from this particular learning process, in turn, are found to significantly leverage enterprise-wide performance.

The role of organizational culture for grounding, management, guidance and effectiveness of enterprise architecture principles

Enterprise architecture management (EAM) has become a widely acknowledged approach for guiding the continuous change of increasingly complex organizations. While methods and models for describing and analyzing enterprise architectures (EA) have been extensively discussed, principles guiding an EA’s design and evolution are hardly covered in existing research. The paper at hand therefore analyzes the mechanisms of EA principles (EAP), that is EAP grounding, EAP management, and EAP guidance and their effects on EA consistency and EAM utility. Specifically we aim at understanding the role of organizational culture for the mechanisms and effects of EAP. Based on empirical data we find that all relations describing EAP mechanisms and their effects are significantly moderated by organizational culture. Based on our findings we give recommendations on how to deal with selected design decisions when introducing and developing EA principles in an organization.

A Case Study of Stakeholder Concerns on EAM

As a result of growing complexities in business processes, information systems, and the technical infrastructure, a key challenge for enterprise architecture management (EAM) is to guide stakeholders from different hierarchical levels with heterogeneous concerns. EA deliverables, such as models or frameworks, are often highly comprehensive and standardized. However, these can hardly be applied without greater adaption. Although the literature selectively covers approaches for tailoring EA deliverables closer to the concerns of affected stakeholders, these approaches are often vague or not very differentiated. In the paper at hand, we aim at introducing a stakeholder perspective to EAM research that considers stakeholder concerns on EAM across hierarchical levels. To this end, we conduct a case study: Our results show homogenous concerns among stakeholders on EA deliverables. In turn, we found different concerns on the role of EAM in applying these deliverables, dependent on the hierarchical level of stakeholders. These findings stress the necessity for a more differentiated understanding of stakeholder concerns on EAM. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for an exemplary EAM approach.