Enterprise Architecture and Digital Transformation: How do they support each other?
Effective enterprise architecture is the foundation for designing and deploying user-centric digital-first services. It offers a modern, simplified framework to reduce technical debt, increase organizational capacity, and expedite digital transformation. It facilitates more integrated company operations responsive to organization and customer requirements.
Enterprise architecture and digital transformation promote a more effective IT infrastructure that encourages cross-organizational information sharing and aligns business priorities with IT investments. They help your business map its journey from where it is to a more mature one. And agile enterprise that delivers more business value with strategic IT investments.
Enterprise Architecture enables companies to communicate technology roadmap plans throughout the organization. It helps in reducing the complexity and increases the cost-effectiveness of the IT landscape to drive desirable outcomes.
Without enterprise architecture guidelines, your digital transformation efforts may produce far fewer benefits or go in the wrong direction. You’ll be unable to deliver services efficiently or equitably to obtain positive business outcomes. This results in unmanaged IT complexity, increased operating costs, and reduced agility.
To succeed in digital transformation, your company should continuously adapt to the changing business and technological landscape.
Why Enterprise architecture is important for Digital Transformation?
Over 40% of respondents in a McKinsey survey cited that their business leaders are unaware of what enterprise architecture encompasses.
Enterprise Architecture is a set of tools and methods to translate organizational transformation needs into specific requirements–functional and technical–that enhance digital services. It provides useful digitalization input to identify areas you can create or add value, gain business efficiency and thrive in today’s digital age.
Many CIOs know the importance of the combination and how it influences each other in terms of the organization’s growth. They both help your organization identify its business capabilities, define priorities, and redesign its business and IT framework to remain relevant and compete more effectively in this digital era. It gives your organization an x-ray view of its business processes, delivers enterprise-wide insights, and directly links the processes to technology, IT, and infrastructure supporting strategic and continuous digital transformation.
IT challenges and complexities can lower the digital transformation success rate to as low as 5%. Enterprise digital transformation helps companies address digitization complexities, get real transformation benefits, respond quickly to changing customer demands, devote more attention to planning, launch products, and services more frequently. Involving enterprise architects in digitization projects significantly improves documentation and communication between business and IT, continuously driving change.
Enterprise architecture reduces uncertainty and accelerates transformation by improving collaboration between business and IT, consistently streamlining the IT landscape, and establishing tech rules and processes. It gives your organization an x-ray view of its business processes, delivers enterprise-wide insights, and directly links the processes to technology, IT, and infrastructure supporting strategic and continuous digital transformation.
The role of Enterprise architecture in digital transformation is to support digitization by evaluating IT strategy and roadmap. It unlocks organizational value with quality, integrated data that improves accountability, boosts deeper customer engagement, informs better decisions, and generates high-quality products and services.
Challenges of Digital Transformation on Enterprise Architecture
1. Changing customer expectations
Organizations are always evolving as industries and business environments change. Moreover, advancing technology has heightened customer service expectations, prompting the modern customer to demand faster, consistent multichannel service at the touch of a button. The current “always on” culture and more self-service options have also produced self-sufficient consumers. More customers expect a personalized, mobile-friendly experience. Adopt new digital technologies that consider evolving customer needs and pain points.
2. Planning Strategy
Before starting the transformation of a business enterprise, know where you’re moving to and why. An unclear or poorly-planned strategy can lead to failure because you don't understand your business needs or goals. It hinders your success in transformation and causes your employees to become fatigued. On the flip side, a well-designed digital strategy aligns with your business priorities and ensures all organizational stakeholders speak one language. Integrate your digital strategy into the overall business strategy and use it to eliminate digitization roadblocks and minimize automation-related bureaucratic processes.
3. IT Skill Gap
Digital skills are a key hindrance to successful transformation, which delays digitization projects, sometimes for months. 54%  of businesses cannot accomplish their transformation goals because of insufficient technically-skilled employees. For success in enterprise architecture and business transformation, you need a proficient IT team with skills such as application architecture, data migration, software integrations, data analytics, and cybersecurity. But if it's hard to find qualified, skilled employees, consider hiring external experts.
4. Organizational Culture
Digital transformation involves transforming the way you work and embodying a digital-first mindset that incorporates digital tools without overlooking the human experience. But culture is among the biggest challenges enterprises face while implementing digital transformation. Even with a powerful digital strategy, if your culture harbors distrust or resentment over a more technological workplace, your transformation efforts are doomed to fail. Understand and communicate how digital tools can promote organization-wide change, and create a more positive experience for both customers and employees.
5. Identifying KPIs
CIOs and other organization leaders often expect quick returns on their enterprise architecture and digital transformation projects, so they may pressure IT or actively discourage them from testing new apps or tech. But incorporating testing and security ensures your systems are not vulnerable to attack and increases your transformation project’s efficiency. Rushed or poorly planned testing can cost you more time and money in developing patches and fixes. It also prevents you from identifying critical KPIs and collecting correct data to guarantee the best possible product or service.
Enterprise architecture as a component of digital transformation
Align business requirements with IT
Foster a common understanding of business products and processes between IT teams and business units. The transformation of business enterprises creates a unified perspective on what to change and supports decisions on which applications are necessary. Success in digital transformation requires enterprise architects with the appropriate skills to design and implement a smart technical strategy and the right operational environment to deploy agile methodologies.
Communicate technology roadmaps
Your technology roadmap begins with a business goal of what you want to achieve and describes the details of what’s needed to achieve it. Enterprise architecture guidelines account for and analyze organizational capabilities against the transformation strategy, help leaders understand the impact of suggested technology, and specify which investments your organization should make to meet its goals.
Simplify business processes
Comprehensively addressing technology needs helps your organization streamline your entire transformation project. Enterprise architects can help your organization launch its technology portfolio, and determine and optimize technology and applications critical to its projects and programs. They assess which processes are currently working and prioritize technologies to enhance that functionality in a digital world of opportunity and challenges.
Adopt emerging technologies
Enterprise architecture guidelines speed up the adoption of emerging digital technologies, enhances the customer experience, and unlock the value of data across your organization. It modernizes IT systems, and capitalizes on digital technologies, helping you respond to customer needs quickly. Enterprise architects propose emerging database technologies your company would greatly benefit from, and make the technology investments best suited for your existing enterprise infrastructure.
Adapt to consumer demands
Tech-savvy enterprise architects add more value to your organization with process models that accurately reflect your business needs, and are useful for making critical technology decisions. In an era of ever-evolving customer needs and expectations, they use agile methodologies to accelerate software deployment timelines. They map out systems that produce reliable and vital business data, produce quick results, and foster high project deliverable rates.
How to implement an Enterprise Architecture plan for a successful Digital Transformation?
Enterprise architects need to prepare a framework to align digital technologies with business goals to make sure a successful digital transformation. Here are important initiatives:
Create a Technology Roadmap
A road map is only useful if it directly correlates with your company's vision and aligns IT solutions with strategic business objectives. It helps your company avoid obstacles in its transformation journey, build long-term value into its product or service, and remain agile.
It also offers a birds-eye view and connects your technology investments, milestones, and outcomes. Enterprise architecture and business transformation help you create countless investment scenarios and evaluate alternative approaches against business goals. With a roadmap, you can outline who does the work, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.
Invest in digital platforms
There are so many digital platforms differing by function, interface, features, and use, that it's easy to get overwhelmed. Explore many digital platforms, but only select those that match your organizational needs and preferences.
Find a flexible, customizable platform and integrate necessary solutions to help you scale as your business grows. A digital transformation platform provides self-service support, speeds up onboarding, and provides detailed analytics with actionable insights to ensure positive ROI on investments.
Create IT infrastructure goals
Knowing why you’re going digital helps you define your transformation of business enterprise strategy, but it begins with creating the right IT goals. Firmly describe your “why” and ensure any digital initiative you’re considering aligns directly with your core business goals.
Describe both your long-term and short-term goals, including what ROI you expect to achieve from the transformation process. Do you want to improve internal communication, establish a new sales channel, or minimize overhead costs? Create a transformation vision and split the initiative into smaller projects, each with specific goals and activities.
Digital transformation is an innovative way to conduct your core business activities. It involves adopting new, automated, more efficient technology, software, processes, and business practices. Increasing automation promotes collaboration and generates better data, supporting data-driven decisions that enable your organization to focus on the most impactful tasks, and make the right investments.
But as you increase automation, consider how it will impact customer relations, its cost, how your team will react to the change, and how it will align with business goals. To simplify your business processes with automation, onboard your employees properly, and train and empower them.
Reduce manual processes
Enterprise architecture for digital transformation provides a simple, systematic digital solution to replace many manual, tedious tasks, saving your business time and money. You can digitize nearly all manual, paper-based time-consuming tasks from signing contracts, to managing invoices. Most organizations with manual processes and legacy systems have a hard time adopting new technologies and often look down on automation.
But changing your organization's culture, albeit slowly, can encourage everyone to embrace transformation, and use new digital systems to replace manual processes. Automating manual processes moves you to paperless technologies and digital tools that realign core processes, enhance collaboration and help employees work more seamlessly.
Remove legacy software
The best place to start in replacing legacy software is by analyzing your current processes and identifying obsolete systems that require infrastructure improvement. Ask yourself if your organization is ready to migrate existing systems into new ones. Embracing modern software and systems enhances customer experience, solves more customer problems, and creates a seamless employee experience that drives business efficiency.
A predetermined strategy helps you specify the right set of systems you need. Intuitive, integrated systems are best for reducing complexity in the early stages of a transformation project. Don't layer multiple systems on top of each other, it may reduce productivity, overwhelm, and confuse your employees.
How Kissflow Can Help You?
Enterprise architecture and digital transformation go hand-in-hand. With the rapidly changing landscape, it is important to choose the right solution that facilitates large-scale change while aligning itself with digital transformation goals.
Kissflow’s digital transformation platform eases the tensions between IT and business teams, simplifies processes, and enables smarter cross-functional collaboration between teams and stakeholders. The cloud-based work platform removes the need to use multiple solutions for multiple use cases and is built to accommodate the needs of a growing organization. It is the perfect solution for organizations looking to keep up with the needs of their enterprise architecture while expediting their digital transformation journey.
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