Gartner Identifies New Approach for Enterprise Architecture

Gartner has published a new approach to EA – – which identifies seven properties that differentiate ’emergent’ architecture from ‘traditional’ EA. Seems to be all about coordination rather than control, middle-out or bottom-up rather than top-down, light touch rather than methodology-compliant, and (although this isn’t that explicit in the brief summary referenced) people and their behaviours rather than ‘things’. Ref my previous post, I don’t think this is that new from the point of view of EA in HE experience and lessons learned to date – & I reiterate that I think that HE has a particular advantage in coming to EA quite late and being able to adopt a different approach more attuned to the current (future?) environment from the start. My comments on the seven properties below, from an EA in HE point of view:

1. Non-deterministic – In the past, enterprise architects applied centralised decision-making to design outcomes. Using emergent architecture, they instead must decentralise decision-making to enable innovation.

Not sure HE decision-making is that centralised (or even clearly articulated!) anyway, although decentralisation looks like a good idea. Would argue, however, that there are different levels of decision-making and that not all can be decentralised – but should all be collaborative/open for discussion.

2. Autonomous actors – Enterprise architects can no longer control all aspects of architecture as they once did. They must now recognise the broader business ecosystem and devolve control to constituents.

I don’t think ‘control’ is what EA should be about – & in HE I’m sure it shouldn’t be – & I don’t see how EA could work without recognising the broader business system anyway?

3. Rule-bound actors – Where in the past enterprise architects provided detailed design specifications for all aspects of the EA, they must now define a minimal set of rules and enable choice.
Sounds like EA-light, which I think HE have already arrived at.

4. Goal-oriented actors – Previously, the only goals that mattered were the corporate goals but this has now shifted to each constituent acting in their own best interests.
Hmmm – needs a bit of elaboration, whilst can see that there is a need to recognise/integrate with local goals/objectives, this is not the same as each constituent acting in their own best interests, which seems to be going a bit far!
5. Local Influences: Actors are influenced by local interactions and limited information. Feedback within their sphere of communication alters the behaviour of individuals. No individual actor has data about all of an emergent system. EA must increasingly coordinate.

Well, yes – makes sense.

6. Dynamic or Adaptive Systems: The system (the individual actors as well as the environment) changes over time. EA must design emergent systems sense and respond to changes in their environment.
Seems fairly obvious.

7. Resource-Constrained Environment: An environment of abundance does not enable emergence; rather, the scarcity of resources drives emergence.
If this means that EA becomes more important in a time of constrained resources – understanding/making the best of what you’ve got – then go for it


4 responses to “Gartner Identifies New Approach for Enterprise Architecture

  1. John,

    Good post. I completely agree. We are in a unique position with EA in HE to learn from the past. Based on our own resource constraints and decentralised governance and control, EA in HE can only be successful if it is collaborative.

    Cheers! Leo

  2. Pingback: Roll Program » The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?

  3. John,
    Great update and response to the Gartner post. I agree with you on this. One of the more important aspects of EA is that it is a facilitating function to bring the “right” people in the room to drive the “right” set of decisions for the orginizaiton. As EA’s we don’t have to be the experts in everything but we should be able to guide the orginization through the process of making informed decisions.

  4. Pingback: The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?

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