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Government agencies and departments have well publicised needs to manage limited budgets and meet citizen expectations; making ICT innovation and digital transformation an imperative.

By now government departments at all levels are on some sort of transformation journey, but to manage the pace of change, and to ensure seamless transformation (we’re talking buy-in, culture, change management, budgets, on-time delivery, IT infrastructure, solution implementation, the works) you need something, or some one, to orchestrate it all.

Enter Enterprise Architecture (EA).

WHAT IS IT?

EA is a conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organisation. The intent of an enterprise architecture is to determine how an organisation can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives.
Initially the EA framework emerged as a response to the increase of business technology, especially in the 1980s when computer systems were just taking hold in the workplace. Companies soon realised they would need a plan and long-term strategy to support the rapid growth of technology and that remains true today.

Modern EA strategies now extend this philosophy to the entire business, not just IT, to ensure the business is aligned with digital transformation strategies and technological growth. The goal of enterprise architecture is to create a unified IT environment across the entire organisation’s business units, with tight symbiotic links to the business side of the organisation and its strategy.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Driven by the demands of digital business transformation objectives we’re observing a dramatic resurgence in the growth of interest in Enterprise Architecture.

While the EA practice initially played a foundational support role, today its scope is more progressive and outcome focused to identify opportunities for growth and change.

EA, which unites IT with broader organisational operations, is especially useful in helping to achieve your digital government strategy, because it focuses on bringing legacy processes and applications together to form a more seamless environment.

More specifically, the goals of an enterprise architecture framework are to promote alignment, standardisation, reuse of existing IT assets, and the sharing of common methods for project management and software development across the organisation. The end result, theoretically, is that the enterprise architecture will make IT cheaper, more strategic, and more responsive – a big win for those operating with limited budgets and under taxpayer scrutiny.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

CIOs, CTOs and CEOs have recently shifted focus towards Big Data, AI, Blockchain and Cognitive Computing to help achieve goals and meet growing citizen expectations. These tools, while sexy need a guiding framework to actually achieve their promise – otherwise they’re expensive buzz. This is where a solid EA helps.

While EA offers a number of benefits – in the public domain the three biggest opportunity areas are…

Operational Process Oversight
As noted EA is no longer the sole function of IT, isolated from the rest of the organisation. Nowadays, it has become much more—a bridge between the broader business and IT, and a guide, offering a holistic, top down view of structure and systems, making it invaluable in managing the complexities of large public sector departments.

In today’s operating environment change is a constant and it happens faster than ever – sometime due to changing expectations, or due to environmental pressures like those we’re all feeling during the Covid-19 pandemic. If your organisation is complex, transforming it in response to these external pressures is very difficult. EA though provides you the holistic oversight needed to understand where you’re at versus where you want to be and makes it easier to plan how best to respond to change.

Break Down Silos and Increase Agility
Needless to say all A/NZ government departments are on some sort of data or technological transformation journey. But rapid change and transformation – like what we’ve seen over the last decade – but especially in the last four months – often breeds complexity.

In today’s complex world of multi-clouds and hybrid clouds, IT systems have become extremely complicated. According to Dataversity well-defined EA promotes a comprehensive understanding of the entire business and has the potential to show the changes needed for optimising infrastructure – with an optimised infrastructure reducing costs through efficiency.

Finally, this type of architecture allows organisations to break down data and operational silos and makes it easier to shift towards more agile ways of working.

Remove Complexity and Improve Standardisation
According to Architecture Center a key benefit of EA is the ability to fosters a higher level of IT standardisation.
By empowering decision-makers to flesh out sound business and operational models EA makes sure all employees are on the same page. It’s easier to manage multiple business units, as well as networks. You can, amongst other things, offer better software support and guidance than ever before.

Finally, EA is also an opportunity to maintain optimal productivity and operability. It integrates services and applications without friction and increases their portability.

Keep an eye out for part 2 of the EA blog series where we take a look at how to align EA with broader organisational objectives and overcome common integration challenges.

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