The State Of Enterprise Architecture In 2011

To paraphrase a now-marginalized US political figure: “How you’all doing?”

Every year, Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture team looks at how enterprise architecture, as a practice and a function within business, is doing. We look at everything from how firms organize their EA programs, to where they are getting their support from, what roles exist within the EA team, completeness of architecture and the degree of standardization, expected technology change, and priorities and challenges. We ask the same questions year over year to discern any trends.

On December 9, we’ll be presenting the results of the 2011 State of Enterprise Architecture survey, compiling the inputs from 543 firms across North America, Europe, and Asia/PAC. (Note: this teleconference is for Forrester clients. A separate teleconference will be offered for non-client respondents to this survey.) A wide variety of industries are represented: financial services, manufacturing, retail, business services, and public sector. A few highlights:

  • The structure of firms’ EA functions continues to shift – with both centralized and completely decentralized increasing. 
  • Architecture staffing continues its growth. The business architect role is one factor driving this growth. 
  • Awareness and support by the broader business and IT organization continue to climb – both by the CIO, other IT functions, and by line of business management. 
  • Drivers for EA show a significant shift – with “improving business agility” rising to the top. 
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Rethink Your IT Strategy If You’re Serious About Cloud

Cloud – people can’t agree on exactly what it is, but everyone can agree that they want some piece of it. I have not talked to a single client who isn’t doing something proactively to pursue cloud in some form or fashion. This cloud-obsession was really evident in our 2011 technology tweet jam as well, which is why this year’s business technology and technology trends reports cover cloud extensively. Our research further supports this – for example, 29% of infrastructure and operations executives surveyed stated that building a private cloud was a critical priority for 2011, while 28% plan to use public offerings, and these numbers are rising every year.

So what should EAs think about cloud? My suggestion is that you think about how your current IT strategy supports taking advantage of what cloud is offering (and what it’s not). Here are our cloud-related technology trends along with some food for thought:

  • The next phase of IT industrialization begins. This trend points out how unprepared our current IT delivery model is for the coming pace of technology change, which is why cloud is appealing. It offers potentially faster ways to acquire technology services. Ask yourself – is my firm’s current IT model and strategy good enough to meet technology demands of the future?
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Technology Is Everywhere — Are You Paying Attention?

We are currently in a technology growth cycle, which is likely to continue for another five to seven years.* The opportunities presented by the likes of cloud, mobile, social, and big data are abundant. I'm wondering if EAs are overly focused on consolidation, simplification, and cost control, which could lead to missing the boat. Alternatively, companies may just leave EA behind as they sail to newer, profitable waters.

In Forrester's September 2011 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture Online Survey, we asked architects to prioritize the following challenges, and here is what we found:

 EA Survey Results

While 37% of firms told us that improving how their firms identify and integrate new/disruptive technology was high priority, it was a substantially smaller percentage than the other nine challenges we asked about. Compare this to: 1) a similar CIO survey that ranked business technology innovation as the top priority, and 2) another EA survey question indicating that "using technology to increase business competitiveness" was the number three IT driver for EA programs.

My concern is that other things may be distracting EA attention away from the opportunities that abound in this growth cycle. Consider:

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