Enterprise Architecture: Go Big or Go Home Why Go Big... It's 2019!

Claudette McGowan, BMO Financial Group's Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Technology Employee Experience
Claudette McGowan, BMO Financial Group's Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Technology Employee Experience

Claudette McGowan, BMO Financial Group's Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Technology Employee Experience

I remember the first time I heard the phrase Enterprise Architecture (EA). My initial thoughts were-what exactly is an Enterprise Architecture and why should I care? With over 15 years in the technology game, I can confidently answer these questions and fully appreciate that many will disagree with my definition of EA.

That said, I think everyone ‘in the know’ WILL agree with my reason for stating that all team members, from the CEO to the entry-level employee needs to care about Enterprise Architecture. I define Enterprise Architecture as your billion dollar blueprint. It’s the conceptual “Master Plan” of models that articulate your structure, processes, standards, capabilities, and logic. It is where people, process, and technology intersect AND effectively enable business results. It's your strategic enabler that will either make or break your business. With less-than-optimal architecture, you will be slower, encounter more deviations, offer costlier solutions and lose market share to competitors.

In a world that's becoming more digital, factors like speed, integration, stakeholder perception, and business outcomes become your most valuable players. Designing world-class Enterprise Architecture is your ticket to the game, and you can’t get this wrong.

How to Go Big – Business-Driven Enterprise Architecture

Organizations need to properly prepare and accelerate their digital transformation while bracing for the rapid onslaught of technological growth. Every company should buckle up for what promises to be a tumultuous journey to the future. The fourth wave of the industrial revolution is multi-dimensional and navigating an optimal path through artificial intelligence, robotics, smart cities/buildings, quantum computing, cloud computing, 5G wireless, self-driving vehicles, etc. will require meticulous planning and significant investment. I recommend this 6-step plan to help your organization “achieve its greatness” through Business-Driven Enterprise Architecture.

1. Establish close partnerships with key business stakeholders and immerse yourself in business strategy.

2. Co-create the future state with key stakeholders.

3. Capture the current state and create the gap analysis in order to build your comprehensive roadmap properly.

4. Leverage an agile methodology to enable speed and rapid prototyping/development.

5. Execute with a resilient and future-focused mindset to deliver on elements such as scalability, security, modularity, and integration. These elements must be embedded in the design/ build phase.

6. Adopt a measurable, experience-centric approach to ensure business goals are achieved with effective governance and guardrails.

BMO’s Big Story!

If I had to choose one word to summarize our BMO Enterprise Architecture journey, the word would be “ENERGIZING!”

It began in earnest with a new senior leadership team who applied fresh sets of eyes to a long-standing challenge and got everyone engaged and excited. There was a renewed focus on building stronger relationships with internal and external partners. The road traveled offered many learning opportunities, a few pauses, and most importantly, immense rewards.

 Business-Driven Enterprise Architecture is a billion-dollar blueprint, and I believe it is also your most valuable enabler 

Getting the right team in place and building the future state with a business-focused Enterprise Reference Architecture delivered remarkable innovation. It not only included a powerful leads generation engine, open connectivity with enterprise API services, real-time event processing, advanced analytics with machine learning, improved credential management with simplified sign-on, scalable enterprise-wide digitization services, smart robotics -- along with a host of other strategic enablers.

From a lessons learned standpoint, one opportunity for improvement relates to the speed at which we transitioned to agile teams, in hindsight, we could have moved faster.

Ultimately, our teams did an exceptional job with implementing meaningful governance and establishing communities of practice. As we look ahead, we remain energized and vigilant about the need to continuously link capabilities with outcomes.

What Happens After you Go Big? Go Bigger!

The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus famously said, “Change is the only constant in life.”

As we look to the future, I have to admit, Heraclitus was right - the name of the game is changing, and we all better get used to it. As fast-paced as things seem today, it may never be this slow again.

If you belong to an organization that hopes to be in business in five years, the time to act is now. Business-Driven Enterprise Architecture is a billion-dollar blueprint, and I believe it is also your most valuable enabler.

Companies that get it right work closely with internal/ external partners align tightly with business strategy, embrace flexibility, design resiliently, focus on the future, and measure religiously throughout the journey. It is the fast-path to delivering exceptional business outcomes.

Bottom line, get the Enterprise Architecture right, and you will have happier customers, empowered employees, new revenue streams, sustainable growth and a massive win for the company.

And, when the company wins, everyone from the entry-level employee to the CEO can… and should celebrate the win.

It’s all part of the Master Plan.

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