Transforming the digital workspace with business architecture
Digital transformation is not a project, but instead requires the restructuring of the business to allow it to quickly and flexibly respond to market demands. The last decade has seen many enterprise businesses taking up the agile methodology as part of this process of change – iterating rapidly and seeking regular customer feedback on developments.
Having a business architecture in place remains extremely important – and it is a focus that enterprise businesses can in fact pursue in concert with the agile methodology
Developing a viable business architecture means:
- Tightly defining business strategy and goals, on a vertical and horizontal basis
- Identifying the business’s value propositions and precisely how it serves the customer
- Establishing the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, and how gaps can be filled
- Setting out a plan of action; and creating a business roadmap
The business roadmap progresses by:
- Examining where the business is falling short
- Reviewing potential project outcomes on a technical level and costing them
- Comparing this outline to the business’s goals and objectives
- Developing a full roadmap, covering progress based on different sets of project results
Startups and scaleups, with an uncomplicated organisational structure, can move quickly and can typically have a high tolerance for risk, given that the potential rewards can greatly outweigh any danger. The incumbents that they compete with are almost inevitably slower to move, coming with an organisational hierarchy that is likely to reject risk and uncertainty at every stage (consider the fact that Kodak invented and shelved the digital camera in the 1970s, for example). And change has to come from the top in enterprise businesses – if processes will be painful then they must be driven by the board to ensure that they are fully applied.
And startups tend to go all in on a single strategy – the ‘fail fast’ approach – with the view to pivot to a new approach should things not work out. Enterprise businesses cannot pivot, which is why having a roadmap is so important. This defines what the organisation will do if projects do not succeed – reflecting what is likely to be a complex set of plans and manoeuvers across the business.
Because of all this, the business’s architecture is key to driving innovation. It’s crucial for guiding transformation by defining the organisation’s specific strategies and goals. What’s more, sharing this information within the organisation ensures that all departments are working in the same direction and that new initiatives adhere to the overall strategy.
Digital transformation is, of course, a challenging transition, and it requires the fundamental restructuring of the business. It’s not enough for a department to commission an app; instead, the organisation needs to break down silos and drive broadscale cross-departmental collaboration (thereby increasing business agility and making better use of internal resources). And for these kinds of changes to be implemented, they require structure and strategy to be in place. The end result, is a highly resilient DevOps culture, in which the organisation can test its outputs and approaches and ensure that it is serving its customerbase as effectively as possible.
So, while business architecture may seem antithetical to agile methods, it’s actually critical for enterprise businesses pursuing digital transformation. By providing structure and discipline, architecture brings the organisation together, directing the path of the ship, and giving the organisation the tools it needs for restructuring. What’s more implementing the Digital Workspace will be far simpler with transformation underway – ensuring that the organisation can act as a single, coherent entity with a defined roadmap for the future.
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