December 14, 2007

Disruptive Technologies and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric EA plans for the future of the enterprise and is on the lookout for both incremental innovation as well as disruptive technologies.
  • A disruptive technology is a technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or status quo product in the market. Sometimes, a disruptive technology comes to dominate an existing market by either filling a role in a new market or by successively moving up-market through performance improvements until finally displacing the market incumbents. (Adapted from Wikipedia).Disruptive technologies are innovations on steroids.
  • Innovations improve product performance of established products. Innovations are often incremental; however, they can also be radical or discontinuous.

How does EA plan for innovation, whether incremental or those that are revolutionary and disruptive?

  • Structure and content—First, EA captures critical baseline and forward looking content from subject matter experts and is responsible for developing a useful and usable structure for the content which enables analysis and recommendation for filling gaps, eliminating redundancies, and creating efficiencies through new technology solutions and process improvement. EA does not actually "own" the content of the architecture. EA develops and maintains the structure. EA works with the subject matter experts (business and technical) to capture the content. In general, facilitates the architecture development, maintenance, and use, so that the content stays current, accurate, and complete, is easy to understand, and is readily accessible to end-users.
  • Synthesis of business and technology—EA synthesizes business and technical information to get a holistic view of the enterprise and where it is going in terms of mission execution performance, functions and process, information requirements, and technology solutions. In this way, EA ensures that new technologies are aligned to mission (i.e. that business is driving technology, rather than technology for technologies sake).
  • Target architecture—EA captures explicit and explicit information in the enterprise and conducts market research and outreach to partners to continuously understand the business and technical landscape and how it may be changing and builds this into the target architecture.
  • Change management (transition plan)—EA believes in a phased approach to change, and helps to manage, guide, and influence these through EA information products and governance services (such as EA Board technical reviews of new EA projects, products, and standards). So even though technology may be radically changing, EA will guide the organization through a phased transition plan, such that the enterprise vets proposed changes, gradually adopts new innovations and is able to integrate it with its existing processes successfully. In other words, EA seeks to ensure that technology is not brought in prematurely, before business process reengineering or improvement occurs. Thus, even though technologies may be disruptive from a market perspective, they are not disruptive to the organization and its mission performance. There is always innovation, and this is a great thing for all of us. It provides us with new opportunities and better, faster, and cheaper ways of doing things.

EA is at the forefront in facilitating innovation—continuously scanning for innovations to bring into the target architecture, conducting regular outreach and market research to synthesize business and technology information, building a useful framework for the EA information, and vetting and phasing in change in consumable chunks by the organization.


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