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Enterprise Architecture Trends 2021

1. Architecture guilds are going to become ubiquitous.

This is the idea that different domain architects will collaborate within their architecture guilds, a more formal way of sharing ideas and artifacts and approving architecture decisions. It will start with data architecture guilds, infrastructure architecture guilds, and application architecture guilds, but it will quickly expand to security, business, and integration. This can only happen if the domain architects are given the authority to make good architecture decisions in the moment on behalf of enterprise architecture.

2. Architectural dexterity is going to drive architecture conversation.

From business architecture, through data, application, and technology there is a difference in the ability to quickly respond to business change. Clearly the business architecture should be designed to be most nimble, then the data layer should be almost as nimble, and so on down through the architecture stack. This will dispel the architecture “red tape” reputation and inspire confidence in projects and programs with architecture support.

3. Architecture review boards are going lean.

When an organization starts to instill more trust in their domain architects to make the right decisions and to impart architecture knowledge at the team level, there will be less need for an enterprise architecture review board. Organizations will work to a point where standards, patterns, and architecture decisions are left to the teams and informed up the chain. This very much aligns to the Agile mentality, which is also becoming a standard development and delivery model.

4. Business architecture has become mainstream.

Business architecture used to be the forgotten child of enterprise architecture. There are very good business architects out there but they are illusive. Business architecture is a art, and a very different discipline from business analysis. It involves articulating the business capabilities, business roles, drivers, collaborations and business process. Modelling these concepts gives us a way to trace our architecture components to ensure we deliver value that is focused on what the business needs, and exactly when they want it.

5. EA tooling and languages come into their own.

EA tools have been around for years, from Rational Architect, to Erwin, to Sparx and everything in between. Just recently we have seen an influx of organizations subscribe to EA tools such as LeanIX, iServer, Service Now, and iDoc. These tools are more visual and do not require the deep modeling expertise needed for the traditional EA tools, but they still provide good insight into where architecture is helping the business. These platforms are going to be the catalyst for enterprise architecture models to facilitate all business change in modernization and transformation programs alike.

6. Architecture follows the Agile lead.

Gone are the days where enterprise architects would climb their ivory towers and lock themselves away for a few months while they pondered the right target state architecture. The modern approach to architecture is a need for just-in-time synchronization, with just the right stakeholders. Building the idea of lean architecture review boards, this may be in the form of spontaneous collaboration in the moment rather than a heavy weight governance process.

7. Enterprise architecture teams and innovation teams become one.

Innovation will drive goal-aligned business success with new and exciting ideas. However, most innovation projects will fail fast and hopefully be minimal cost. Those that do make it need quick support to permeate through the business processes, application portfolios, and data landscapes. This is where a lean enterprise architect practice can facilitate bringing these innovations to the front lines.

Bottom Line

As we surface at the end of the pandemic, digital transformation, mergers and acquisitions, and modernization programs are going to be everywhere. To guide these programs to success, a stealth approach to enterprise architecture is going to be vital.

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