Business transformation is increasingly a key driver for many organizations in today’s competitive environment where the focus is either on cost reduction by means of improving operational efficiency or on increasing the market share through innovation and other means of growth. Information Technology (IT) is looked upon as one of the key enablers for business innovation and competitive differentiation. As a result, many organizations identify a number of IT initiatives that enable business transformation and alignment of IT to business objectives and drivers. Such initiatives are often undertaken as part of large, multi-year business transformation programs that are aimed at changing and optimizing business processes and enhancing the IT capabilities that enable them. The initial effort and excitement of such changes often propel many transformational projects directly into an execution phase where focus is often on delivery without appropriate investments in program planning and further in planning and definition of the enterprise architecture. Such an approach often results in lack of appropriate guidance for the implementation projects and leads to large pitfalls. Organizations become unclear of what to deliver and how to deliver the change that can provide value to business and provide a return on the investment. Eventually this lack of planning leads to a failure to achieve the transformational objectives. This article highlights the need for enterprise architecture definition in large transformation programs, key considerations for defining the enterprise architecture, key challenges involved, and concludes with the benefits enterprise architecture brings to various stakeholders involved in transformation programs.
There is a substantial interest and investment in enterprise architecture worldwide, exemplified by the number of enterprise architecture-related professional bodies, consulting services, frameworks, methodologies, and the increasing prevalence of full-time enterprise architecture teams. It may seem surprising in this context, therefore, that the value of enterprise architecture is still poorly understood. Organizations cite difficulties in justifying their enterprise architecture investments and anecdotal evidence suggests that the existence and funding of the enterprise architecture function is often based more on the beliefs of the incumbent management team than on demonstrated value. Although there is no shortage of enterprise architecture benefit claims, explanations of why and how enterprise architecture leads to the proposed benefits are fragmented and incomplete. This article aims to take a step towards improving the understanding of the value of enterprise architecture by focusing on how it leads to organizational benefits. Through a careful review of the existing practitioner and academic literature, the article consolidates knowledge on enterprise architecture benefits and refines the explanations by drawing on relevant IS and management theory. The resultant EA Benefits Model (EABM) proposes that enterprise architecture leads to organizational benefits through its impact on four key benefit enablers: Organizational Alignment, Information Availability, Resource Portfolio Optimization, and Resource Complementarity. The article concludes with a discussion of some potential avenues for future research, which could build on the findings of this study.