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Ask almost any Enterprise Architect and more seriously anyone who has to work with Enterprise Architects, what Enterprise Architecture is? and I guarantee you will get a great number of differing responses. Yes, obviously you will get a number that that only describe their individual relationship and won't fully encompass the role but then again will they know the rest of what an Enterprise Architect can do? ... and if they don't know and they are a manager could they make a mistake and create another group to perform one of the tasks under the EA remit? Surely this kind of thing doesn't happen in a well managed Enterprise? Well if that was the case then the 'well managed' Enterprise wouldn't need EA's!?

So where do you go for the answer? TOGAF? Zachman? Fellow EA's? IEEE 1471-2000? ... and I'm perfectly sure that every EA's that has a blog has had a crack at the definition as well!

So why can't we all 'sing from the same hymn sheet?' What will need to happen so we all are?

I think I need to muse on this question a bit more.

Whilst intrinsically we all feel strongly about EA providing a strategic thinking overview to help organisations make informed business decisions, we battle to make EA pragmatic. We also battle to sell the value of EA to senior business managers and even make the value clear to our IT and business colleagues.

Moreover, even if organisations believe in EA, many organisations simply cannot afford the time and resources to establish an EA framework. On that gloomy note you might conclude that we are all wasting our time attempting to carve out careers in EA.

One way could be helping our IT colleagues to develop a mature Operations and Support Services (OSS) Architecture. Another could be helping our teams improve IT Governance.

At each step along the way we must deliver value to the business in real terms such as:
- reducing costs
- increasing revenues
- reducing time-to-market
- improving service levels, or
- reducing business risks

Before organisations will allow us to do grander things we enterprise architects must increase our credibility. The only way to do this is to progressively solve business problems for people along the way. Consistently demonstrating real business value bottom-up as well as top-down.


Posted on Friday, June 6, 2008 4:06 PM Main , Enterprise Architecture | Back to top

Comments on this post: 'So what is Enterprise Architecture?' ... why can't we agree on a definition and the risk if we can't.

# re: 'So what is Enterprise Architecture?' ... why can't we agree on a definition and the risk if we can't.
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Dave, the EA community does not want to admit that after decades of architecting systems, the advent of several EA frameworks, and the many definitions available for the term EA, we still strive to understand what EA is, what it does, and what it looks like when it is successful.
Check out my document "Enterprise Architecture is More than Engineering" - available at and our Executive Advisory Blog and the EA blog posts at for more.
Left by Michael Rollings - Burton Group on Jun 13, 2008 7:08 PM

# re: 'So what is Enterprise Architecture?' ... why can't we agree on a definition and the risk if we can't.
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I do agree wholeheartedly, I tend to think that it's high-time for EA to fracture into smaller more easily understood and easier to understand terms which will gateway new roles and practices.
Left by Dave Oliver on Jun 18, 2008 10:27 PM

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