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CIOs must use EAs to be successful in their digital transformations

Here are three EA trends that can help you improve transformational efforts.

Video: CIO of the future: How the IT leadership role continues to change

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Reimagining business for the digital age is the number-one priority for many of today's top executives. We offer practical advice and examples of how to do it right.

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The demand for exceptional digital and customer experiences is exposing the constraints of existing technology organization practices. The people, processes, governance structures, and technology of the technology organization must change to drive and enable business success. CIOs need help, and enterprise architects (EAs) are best placed to influence and guide these digital transformations.

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The role of EA is changing: EA stakeholders have different demands of EA, and EA leaders have repositioned their practice as it has matured. Forrester has identified three EA trends that can help CIOs and IT organizations improve their transformational efforts. Each trend is broadening the scope of EA and requires CIOs to develop new ways of thinking about enterprise architecture and its value. The three trends are:

  • Embedding end-to-end design across all business functions. In a world where speed is essential, many CIOs focus on tactical design. Successful transformations are built on a foundation of the four orders of design: Systems, interaction, industrial, and communication. EAs drive the discipline of design and ensure that stakeholders consider systems and interaction design, as well as industrial and communication design.
  • Developing a portfolio of architecture products to articulate the firm's enterprise architecture. DevOps and business product managers have become very skilled in product management. However, it has been difficult to link business and technology products in a meaningful way. EAs have productized architectural components -- customer journeys, value streams, and life cycles -- as a tool to bridge this gap and align business products, architectural products, and technology products to strategy.
  • Designing cross-functional business and technology platforms. Many industries are being disrupted by multisided business platforms. In addition, many software vendors are developing technology platforms to maintain their position in supporting siloed business functions. EAs can drive the conversation to "how best to support the business" rather than "how best to support this business function." This has led to cross-function platforms, particularly customer-facing platforms that better win, serve, and retain customers.

While each of these trends have strengths and weaknesses, the most important aspects for CIOs is how to enable your company to scale with agility. Those CIOs undertaking a digital experience transformation must consider whether their existing methods, techniques, and tools are adequate for such transformations or whether it is time to fully support and adopt the role of EA. A mature and effective EA enables companies to bring together all stakeholders to frame and address the challenges the firms face.


By Gordon Barnett, Principal Analyst

In recent research for the MIT Sloan Management Review, Forrester CEO George Colony explored what it means for CIOs to lead their companies through a digital transformation. Read the article here.

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