The State Of Enterprise Architecture In 2011

Alex Cullen
Vice President, Research Director
November 28, 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. 

These shifts, taken together, point to a broader change in the state of enterprise architecture – moving away from its roots as “the technology standards guys” to a more valuable business-focused and strategic role. Of course, for every organization and program making this change, almost as many are not. Progress is slow. Why?

  • Best practices abound for EA as a technical discipline – but are much skimpier for the business aspects.
  • Changes in EA capabilities and changes in stakeholder perceptions and expectations of EA must occur in lockstep to have impact. EA guidance can’t appear like “stock tips from taxi drivers” – guidance that may be good, but the source isn’t viewed as credible.

How well do you think EA is doing in 2012? Do you see signs of this shift? Would you recommend EA as a career to your son or daughter?

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