New EA Awareness: Bridge and implementer for business strategies in the digital world.

The greater the upcoming changes in companies, the more they rely on EAM. There is a growing realization among IT and business managers that enterprise architecture, with its methodological, architectural and technological know-how on the one hand and its understanding of processes and business on the other, is ideally positioned to actively support and structure the necessary digital change. Two members of the Cross-Business Architecture Lab exemplify the changes in the EAM approach.

A company would have to be able to act like a large flock of birds, reacting to suddenly appearing obstacles and dangers with rapid changes of direction in perfect formation flight. In the process, the course originally set is not lost. Modern enterprise architecture can help even complex organizations achieve the agility and flexibility so necessary in the digital age. This apt description comes from Gordon Cooper, Director of Services and Customer Success at MEGA North America. In reality, companies are working hard to achieve this goal picture, but are varying in how close they are. In terms of "new EA awareness," several insights formulated by consultants, users, the Gartner Group and also CBA Lab have prevailed in recent years on the path to such "swarm behavior" - driven by the demands of digitization and, in part, by the impact of the Corona pandemic. What they have in common is that they describe very well a picture that the members of the CBA Lab see today in the "new EA awareness":

  • Business Outcome instead of Process Optimization - EA's recognition that it can only be effective if it makes a direct contribution to achieving business goals. This means, among other things, that it must also develop criteria that can measure this contribution. And it must deal with business assets just as intensively as with IT assets.
  • Focus on total enterprise rather than IT - Enterprise Architecture as an enterprise rather than IT function is already an old requirement (actually, it has been since Enterprise Architecture existed). However, it has only recently been taken seriously outside the EA community. Corporate leaders have now recognized that the sometimes radical changes brought about by digitization can only be realized if a conversion layer builds bridges to connect business strategy and technology. This intermediate layer is enterprise architecture.
  • Consulting instead of control - The rapid development of new business models and processes has made it necessary for enterprise architects to be involved in the change processes much earlier, in agile environments sometimes even as members of development and project teams. They influence architectural decisions as early as the emergence of pilots and minimal viable products.
  • Guardrails instead of command and control - Due to the large number of parallel developments, the architecture would be a clear bottleneck if it were to provide each project with detailed specifications. Today, therefore, guard rails are installed that set the direction but leave individual decisions to the teams within the given framework.
  • Architectural sketch instead of fixed plan - This paradigm shift is also due to the speed of change in the VUCA world. Plans quickly become wastepaper and are more difficult to adapt than making new sketches.
  • Focus on Future State rather than As-it-is State - Enterprise Architecture has realized that it is best accepted by leadership (in business and IT) when it focuses more on change design and accompaniment than on describing the status quo. Of course, the latter is important to evolve, but capturing it is more of a waypoint than a destination.
  • People-focused rather than system-focused - This perspective has been developed in the Cross-Business Architecture Lab 2021. It states that enterprise architecture can be anchored much more easily in companies and the EA guardrails are accepted much more quickly if decision-makers in IT and business are involved in architecture development and take responsibility for the architecture in their areas. This gives communities a role in implementing the enterprise architecture.

The companies organized in the Cross-Business Architecture Lab are working together in a focused way to bring EA to fruition in a new consciousness as described above, and to bring it to bear in their companies - in a way that best suits the individual company. The two examples: Dr. Oetker and Beiersdorf.

Dr. Oetker's Enterprise Architecture to work decentrally

Dr. August Oetker Nahrungsmittel KG, as a company with more than 40 national subsidiaries, a central IT organization, a digital service provider in Berlin and a data center operator linked in partnership, has been increasingly relying on EAM since 2018. Originally initiated by IT and supported by management to bring transparency to the IT application landscapes and harmonize them, architectural thinking in the group has now become more comprehensive. Transparency is now largely in place through a central repository linked to the BPM tool. But now the Enterprise Architecture Team wants to achieve more. On the one hand, it is concerned with planning and governance, but on the other hand, it also wants to achieve the best possible interaction between business and IT, which should ultimately help to balance the sometimes conflicting interests between local units and the company as a whole.

Virtual EAM teams for cross-silo domains

A milestone on this path was the almost simultaneous establishment of the so-called international business main departments, which were formed along the functions of Production, Marketing, Procurement, HR, etc.. The central EA also oriented itself to these main departments and created a separate virtual business architecture team for each of these domains, covering different roles, including that of IT architect and that of business architect, one from IT, the other from business.

Although there is always some inconsistency between local optimization desires and global governance, the business architecture teams in the domains have helped mitigate it. "We also strengthen the community spirit through quarterly meetings of all business architecture teams and the enterprise architecture team, as well as bilateral meetings between the central EAM team and that of a domain," explains Sylvia Lakämper, enterprise architecture manager at Dr. Oetker.

In the long term, the central EAM team is aiming for ambitious goals: "We want to achieve close alignment between IT and business," explains Dr. Marco Carolla, Strategic Lead Enterprise Architecture at Dr. Oetker.

However, there is still quite a way to go before we get there. So far, the company has succeeded in establishing cross-functional teams that are working together more and more effectively. The as-is status of the architecture is well documented and kept up to date despite the various major stakeholders. There is also a close interface with process management. Thanks to a business capability map, it was possible to link architecture and processes at an early stage.

Nine EAM capabilities to be improved

These initial successes have given EAM a good standing in Dr. Oetker's management and enough time to work through the EAM roadmap, which is to be filled with concrete projects by the end of 2023 and with which a total of nine critical EAM capabilities and thus the entire EAM maturity level are to be improved. These include capabilities such as Architecture Planning, Alignment, Framework, Governance and Architecture Value. Plans include projects such as even better process integration, for example in the demand process, establishing group-wide EAM governance, expanding architecture roles inside and outside IT, defining EA services, an EAM awareness campaign, and developing KPIs to measure and continuously improve EAM.

The work will certainly extend beyond the projects that extend to the end of 2023. In the process, the EAM team at the Bielefeld headquarters of Dr. August Oetker Nahrungsmittel KG will not lose sight of its big goals, nor will it forget to think about the interactions that exist between business organization and enterprise architecture.

Melanie Czink, Beiersdorf AG

We developed our EA service portfolio using a service canvas, with clear metrics for measuring value and success in line with the overarching IT strategy determining our journey in addition to the activities.

Beiersdorf: EAM as a link between IT and business

Enterprise architecture is also on the rise at Beiersdorf. The function has existed there since 2010, but until last year was entrusted less with strategic tasks and more with software evaluation. While it also looked to ensure that the software fit the business, there was little cross-functional work or orchestration. "We had few strategic synergies in IT and relatively little contribution from EAM in the digital transformation process," explains Melanie Czink, Head of Enterprise Architecture since January 2021. This started to change very quickly when Dr. Annette Hamann took over the position of Managing Director Beiersdorf Shared Services IT and CIO at Beiersdorf in May 2020. She positioned the topic of EAM much more strategically, entirely in line with the new EAM awareness, and sees it as a link between IT and business.

The goal is clear: The EA organization will be measured by the direct value it contributes to the company's digital transformation.

EA service catalog as the centerpiece

To achieve the necessary strategic maturity level, the EAM team at Beiersdorf has established this service catalog. It is the centerpiece of the EAM roadmap. "We developed our EA service portfolio using a service canvas, with clear metrics for measuring value and success in line with the overarching IT strategy determining our journey in addition to the activities," explains the enterprise architect. A distinction is made between Foundation, Orchestration and Strategic Services. The service catalog is intended to underscore the practical applicability of EAM and show everyone the specific areas in which EAM can provide support.

"Enterprise Architecture will evolve towards laying a solid and sustainable foundation of High Performing IT with our portfolio. Our focus is on delivering a demonstrable value proposition and driving Beiersdorf's Digital Transformation," explains Czink.