Will Enterprise Architecture become a dinosaur?

The world have changed dramatically and a few years time and Enterprise Architecture have to adopt to a new environment or risk become getting as extinct as dinosaurs.

We have been talking about The need for more agile IT, What does the concept of DevOps mean to companies today, Need for speed to market and A scrapyard of old crap in a series of  interviews at Architecture Corner. They all touch the urge to be more flexible and faster for IT in order support the changing businesses and new market conditions.

Is there a problem?

The development of new products & services and adoption rate of those are much faster today than before. It took 75 years for telephone to reach 100 M users. For Instagram, it took two years to to reach the same amount of users.

Time to reach 100 M users - Vala Afshar

The digital revolution make the world spin faster and faster. At least it looks like that.

The lifetime of companies have decreased substantially for a number of decades. In the good old days, the lifetime of a Fortune 500 company was forty to fifty years. Now, it shrunk to a mere twelve years and I don't think it will grow again.

If you can't handle change in your organization, the chances are huge that your brand will be bought or your company become marginalized. As business getting more and more dependent on IT, IT must be able to change in a faster pace than today. 

But why are we not able to change? 

Working with a number of large companies, I see three different problems that all have to be addressed in different ways. They are interlinked and we can't improve without taking care for all of them, at least a bit.

    * Technology inventions forces business models to change faster
    * The lack of incentives for change 
    * Best practices ain't best anymore

Technology inventions forces companies to dump existing product segments or to find new streams of revenue. Looking back at the massive onslaught in textile manufacturing to today's bleeding mobile-phone companies. A good example is Sony who today loses a lot of money per sold mobile they build, but earns $20 per phone on all high-end smart-phones thanks to selling the camera components to major manufactures as Apple and Samsung.

The lack of incentives to change is a chapter in it's own and need at least separate article.

Finally, best practices ain't best anymore. This is where we touch Enterprise Architecture, but also project management methods and how we do service operations.

TOGAF, PM3, RUP, ITIL and others were not written with the need for fast changes in mind. They were developed in a world where you defined requirements and the changes were few, neither very often. Today we have to be more agile and this need puts new requirements on how we work with enterprise architecture and other areas.

Can you tell us the solution?

Here is where the new mindset comes in.  If I should say yes or no to the question, I would fall in the same trap as those methods we just talked about. 

My answer is that we have to do a lot of small changes to improve how we work, step by step, piece by piece. If one piece doesn't work in the context for a particular company, we have to adapt the method to the need and not the other way around.

This is why I would say probably. We are a number of colleagues who have been working for a while with a more agile approach to Enterprise Architecture, based on smaller increments, less detail, more business involvement and no requirements for a few years now. We think that this is a better way forward than traditional Enterprise Architecture and waterfall-style methods.

Remember, there is no silver bullet in changing enterprises.