For Learning Unit (LU) 2 we again needed to read four research articles. LU2 is all about how to properly align Enterprise Architecture (EA) with senior management. It appears from the research that having C-level executives involved in the process is very valuable for a good EA practice.

For this blog I’ll try and keep it short, hopefully.

Let’s go!


Past, current and future trends in enterprise architecture – A view beyond the horizon.

This is one article that stood out for me. I thought this one was really interesting. It was written in 2018, so it’s not that old and thus the “current and future trends” are likely, let’s say most definitely still at play.

There are two research questions the authors will try to answer: 1) “What is the current focus of EA research and hot did it change over time?” and 2) “What are the current and future EA research trends”.

They found that the focus of EA research in the past was mostly concerning the understanding of EA. Coincidentally the previous four papers we read for LU1 are about this. The research shifted however to EA management (EAM); which involves how EA can really be implemented, practiced and lead to success.

They suggest that the current and future trends of EA research  will most likely involve cloud technology, complexity theory, agile or adaptive processes, big data, IoT, entrepreneurial practices, smart and sustainable technology. These subjects line up very nicely with the Gartner Hype Cycle. The Gartner Hype Cycle is structured, qualitative analytical tool for trend analysis.

A subject that showed up in the past, current and future research, is healthcare. This seems obvious too me, since they need to innovate very fast as well.

Now, according to this research, the thing (pun intended) that is going to make THE most impact on EA and EAM in the future is the IoT technology.  I would agree with this since this means that even more “things” will get (inter)connected with the enterprise.


The benefits of enterprise architecture

As the name of the research implies, this paper is about the benefits of EA. Many of the propose EA benefits are intangible or very long term. The authors of this research aim to explain how “EA service provisioning” leads to organizational benefits. They define “EA service provisioning” as:

“The extent to which organizational strategic decision-makers are provided with relevant, timely and high-quality information and service about an organization’s current and planned business systems.”

Now that’s a mouthful EA buzzwords! Well it just actually means that the people go are carrying out the EA work need to have some solid information to work with and the business and it’s systems.

What they found was that the benefits of EA are achieved through IT-driven and business-driven dynamic capabilities. Dynamic capabilities are defined as: “the capacity of an organization to purposefully create, extend or modify its resources base”.  So this means that an organizations needs to be flexible in order to reap the most benefits from EA.

This conclusion has been derived from a research model they proposed; It models some key concepts of EA as a graph, which has some hypothesis on the edges.

The concepts are:

  1. EA Service capability:
  2. EA Governance:
  3. Use of EA services in IT-driven change:
  4. Use of EA services in Business-driven change:
  5. Project Benefits
  6. Organizational benefits

The hypothesis are the following:

  1. EA service capability has a positive impact on the use of EA services in IT-Driven change
  2. EA service capability has a positive impact on the use of EA services in Business-Driven change
  3. EA governance has a positive impact on the use of EA services in IT-Driven change
  4. EA governance has a positive impact on the use of EA services in Business-Driven change
  5. Use of EA services in IT-Driven change has a positive impact on Project benefits
  6. Use of EA services in Business-Driven change has a positive impact on Project benefits
  7. Project benefits have a positive impact on organization benefits

In the paper, they will explain these concepts and hypothesis in detail which I’m not going to repeat 🙂 I suggest you read it yourself.


Can Enterprise Architecture Be Based on the Business Strategy?

I actually though this would be a really weird research subject since, from what I understand about EA and the concepts  that are involved with it: it is obvious EA should be based on business strategy. It’s what all the previous articles explicitly portray. But that’s the thing, it’s mostly explicit. This research makes it implicit which is great.

The research question the authors set out to answer is the following; “What problems with the business strategy may prevent its use as the basis for EA and how can these problems be potentially addressed”?

The reason they want to study if business strategy can be used as a basis for EA is that it has a number of undesirable properties. Sometimes a business is not able to articulate a business strategy, it can be very unstable and volatile, or it might be missing entirely.

Yet, in existing EA literature; business strategy is generally considered as a necessary basis for EA. They seem inextricably coupled. EA cannot exist without a business strategy.

So what the researchers found was that the business strategy is often vague, unknown or merely absent. They list many sources here, 21 to be exact. This seems rather alarming to me. I would not have expected this. They also mention a survey done by Gartner which found that “two-thirds of business leaders are unclear about what their business strategy is and what underlying assumptions it is based on.”

Next the authors suggest that business strategy rarely provides a clear direction for IT.  IT planners found often that “top management fails to communicate corporate objectives in a way to which IS personnel can relate”.  The business strategy often defines some purely financial indicators useless for IT planning purposes.

Another reason why business strategy might not be usable as much as the literature suggests is that it is often unstable and changes frequently. The researchers suggest that in some companies EA is done once, and then the business strategy changes and EA is not maintained properly. The original business strategy is most likely going to change before you can observe the benefits that EA creates. It takes some time before they become visible.

And last but not least, they mention that business strategy often requires strategy-specific, non-reusable IT systems. What they mean by this is that, specific IT systems are setup to support the business strategy at that moment in time, but they are not growing with the strategy and the future. An average business strategy may be active for a period no longer than 3-5 years they found. However, IT-systems generally span time-frames of 10-15 years or even longer. So you have to adapt the systems when the strategy changes. This is why business strategy cannot provide a long-lasting suitable view of the business.

So, could one actually use business strategy as a basis for EA? Well, yeah, most definitely, but it is difficult. The authors provide a conceptual decision-making framework for you to determine if it is a good idea. If, you are interested you should definitely check this out.


On the Effect of digitalization of Products and Services on Enterprise Architectures

When digitalization happens in a company, it often brings many changes with it. It might change business models, operations, organization structures and IT-infrastructures of an enterprise. In this paper the authors are setting out to answer the following research question: “In enterprises transforming operations or products using digital technologies, what is the correlation between the initial EA and the digitalized EA?”Correlation in this context refers to the kind of changes made in the digitalized EA as compared to the initial EA, and how much of the initial EA is untouched.

The researchers conducted two case-studies where the common conclusion was that “digital transformation caused a substantial amount of elements which are not easily integratable into the initial enterprise architecture (IEA) but “outside” the IEA – either because they had to be newly established due to significantly changes, operations or products, or due to completely new ones”.

They suggest that you should consider digital transformation projects more as establishing a new partial EA for digital business than integrating the new functionality into the existing EA.


So for this blog I tried to keep it short. I think I have layed or the key takeaways from the four articles we needed to read. Yet, don’t mistake, the articles are far more in depth than I discuss here.

These papers were quite interesting, with the third one that stood out most to me personally. I thought it was a nice idea to really implicitly check whether business strategy could be used for EA. And then, the conclusion is rather surprising.

I also want to mention one other thing, that is not from this course but something I found in my podcast app. As you might have read in some of my previous blogs, I listen to many podcasts. So I searched for one about EA and surely enough, there is one. I’ve listened to all episodes before the course even started, but I forgot to mention it. Yeah, here you can find it: Real World Enterprise Architecture


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Article 1: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0166361517306723

Article 2: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963868716302360

Article 3: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/64432/1/0555.pdf

Article 4: https://aisel.aisnet.org/isd2014/proceedings2019/ManagingISD/9/

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