Rise of Enterprise Architecture

By Cat Yong

Business and IT misalignment could be the reason behind why around 70% of IT projects in Malaysia are not fulfilling the needs of businesses. One of the ways that the Global Professional Body of Architects or IASA proposes to overcome this misalignment is enterprise architecture or EA.

But, EA has taken a backseat a very long time although now it is poised to play a bigger role in Malaysia’s private and public sector.

Founder of the IASA Asia Pacific chapters, and chief architect of ATD Solutions, Aaron Tan Dani said, “For the last 15 years, the industry tells us to align IT with business. But is it happening yet? We can’t be sure.

During an IASA and Gartner CIO breakfast meeting event. 
(L-R): Prof. Wardah Bt. Zainal, associate professor, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Hasan Ganny Hanif, Head of Technology, Dagang Net Technologies, Aaron Tan Dani, chief architect, ATD Solutions,
Steve Bittinger, research director, Gartner, (standing) Hood B. Abu Bakar, General Manager, Information and Communication Technology, MISC Berhad.

“The case usually is that vendors will say ‘Do this, buy my solution,’ but we are forced to do things their way. And if it (implementation) doesn’t work this time, it’s because you have to buy future versions of their solutions,” Tan described.

More often than not, the problem is because business users expect IT to perform magic. “But, if business users can’t even describe what they need in human language, how can they expect IT people to perform and deliver in computer language?” asked Tan.

Why EA adoption now?
The arguments for EA now are compelling. There are several reasons, for example one which is that good information management is a competitive advantage.

Also, IT systems simply do not meet the needs of businesses, as they are usually too fragmented, duplicated and not responsive enough for businesses to make changes.

“Budgets end up being focused on system maintenance, and mostly focused on tactical developments instead of strategic plans,” Tan pointed out.

Project management offices (PMO) which carry out IT project implementations, are also often chaotic. “PMOs can be likened to a construction company, but who is doing the architecture prior to the construction?” said Tan.

The project management office
Simply put, IT architecture is based on the 3 elements of framework, technology and skills (FTS). Framework can be understood as best practices; it has been done many times and is proven already. Technology comprises of solutions and platforms by vendors, while skills is know-how of IT architects.


“By having the right IT architecture skills, one can adopt EA frameworks and adopt the right technology platforms; IT architecture skills make framework and technology work together,” Tan explained.

He also opined that EA offices should be driving project management offices, and not be under it. One of the main drivers of EA is understanding business strategies and requirements and this would be difficult to achieve if EA is embedded in PMOs.

Because PMO and EA roles are not properly defined and delineated, PMOs today are processing input as ‘garbage’ and giving rise to serious enterprise challenges like too many isolated islands of IT projects that bring huge cost to businesses.

The absence of IT architecture practices is resulting in business and IT models that have very little integration. Both units are doing their own thing and IT may  be successful at delivering IT projects, but they do not necessarily fulfil the needs of business users and ultimately, the business itself.

The enterprise architect
Tony Murphy of BasisBay had observed, “We are seeing a changing role within the ecosystem itself, which is technology architecture has moved outside of the enterprise and is delegated to partners like a system integrator.”

Gartner research director, Steve Bittinger said, “In a lot of conversations with CIO, we hear a lot about the difficulty of finding someone to lead the enterprise architecture office. At least one thing they must do is have competency to speak to business people and IT people.

He explained that these individuals or ‘chief enterprise architects’ should be the right-hand of the CIO, with one foot in the tech camp, and the other in the business camp., while the CIO ‘schmoozes’ and handles the politics of dealing with business stakeholders.

“After all, the new direction of your business, is going to be enabled by IT,” said Bittinger.

“The next step  in implementing EA is to first understand framework, learn and master the skills and then be able to blend the EA framework as part of a successful enterprise transformation journey,” Tan explained.

ATD Learning, an EA educational arm of ATD Solution has been offering the EA related training, certification and coaching programs based on the IASA ITABoK (IT Architecture Body of Knowledge) and TOGAF from the Open Group.

There are no comments

Add yours