Enterprise Architecture in Digital Business Ecosystem

By: Dr. Anil Madhukar Paingankar, Principal Architect, Communication Business Unit, Wipro Limited

A “business ecosystem” – network of organizations and individuals that co-evolve their capabilities and roles, aligning their investments so as to create additional value and improve efficiency. According to J. F. Moore, business eco-system is often built on one single company that is connected, has the keystone advantage. A keystone company in business ecosystem, will be successful only if it continuously reinvents itself and drive participating partners and individuals to generate value.

In general, an organization must continuously innovate, especially when external factors are undergoing rapid changes. These factors are technology advancement, customer expectation, regulatory and political influence and unknown competition. An organization needs to align its people’s skills, process, technology and infrastructure to address this market dynamics.

Critical Success Factor for Digital Business Ecosystem:

Most successful businesses are those that bring collaborative synergy of the ecosystem, encourage cross innovation in value chain and are highly productive. An organization must be highly intuitive, innovative, and collaborate to generate value.

Role of Digital Technologies in an Ecosystem Landscape:

We are in a fast advancing technology era, an organization can decipher this as an opportunity or a threat depending upon the agility of its business and supporting technology. With technology playing a major role in bringing business value, it is difficult to quote that business drives technology and vice versa. Rather, blending business and technology will be the driving factor for an organization. A company that aspires to build a digital business ecosystem, must have a very strong technology platform that is flexible, agile and collaborative to absorb and adapt to technological advancements.

Enterprise Architecture as a well-defined practice guides an organization during development and execution to achieve its business strategy. This article provides a high level insight on how EA as a discipline will proactively lead an organization to address today’s highly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) market.

Enterprise Architecture as a Discipline, In General:

Enterprise Architecture (EA) has long been an enabler of business through technology support. In general, as a discipline it constitutes of 4 aspects:

1. Business and Technology Strategy Alignment:
·Derive technology strategy from business strategy and vision.
·Develop business and operations model, value stream and value chain.
·Identify business and technology hot-spots to achieve business strategy and vision.
·Build business and technology dashboard to monitor and manage.

2. As Architecture:
· Develop Reference Architecture framework that provides a structure to people, process, and technology to operate within domain and holistically deliver business value.
· Develop principles, standards and guidelines that brings distributed strengths of all the units to achieve common organizational goal.

3. Transition and Transformation:
· Maintain and manage current state and future state architecture with roadmap.
· Derive milestone that brings value in stages aligned to end state.

4. Governance:
· As execution and operations board for control over all initiatives and engagement.
· Architecture board ensures development and operations bring value to achieve the business strategy.
EA aspect interrelate with each other to deliver business value. Figure 2 represent aspects of EA and their interrelationship.

Enterprise Architecture as Digital Business Ecosystem Enabler:

Enterprise Architecture (EA) as a discipline, plays a crucial role in driving digital business ecosystem. It is responsible and accountable for its success and growth. EA enables the blending of business and technology, will be intuitive and drive innovation across the ecosystem to generate collective value. EA aspects for digital business ecosystem are as follows:

1. Blend Business and Technology:
· Enterprise Architecture identifies, assess and continuously reinvent participating entities in the digital business ecosystem.
· Derive business and technology elements required to be a keystone enterprise that is highly connected, collaborative, intuitive and innovative.
· EA ensures continuous innovation and faster delivery brings business value.
· Strategically align organization’s vision and capability to technology advancement and business trend.

2. Adaptive-Highly Connected Architecture:
· Build reference architecture that is inclusive and adaptive to technology advancements and business trend.
· Identify partners, their strength and innovation capability to achieve differential market value for the organization.
· Provide architectural methodology that will support diverse technology platform and deployment method across the ecosystem.

3. Continuous Innovation and Transition:
· Build the capability for continuous innovation and faster releases of supporting technology that brings business value.
· Develop platform that integrates participants across the ecosystem for collective value generation.
· Develop competency to integrate internal and external processes and technology without compromising with organizational strategic intent, security and differentiation.
· Develop drives to build innovative synergy across the value chain and enable differential services and user experience.

4. Digital Governance:
· Operationalize EA Board that will enable collaboration, innovation and digital technology beyond organizational boundaries. Digital governance considers cross-industry regulation, cross-organizational governance without exposing or compromising on internal data/information and organization’s business and technology differentiation.

For today’s VUCA market it is necessary to build a strong business ecosystem enabled by digital technology. Enterprise Architecture must blend business and technology, enable and drive participating entities across the ecosystem. Build a highly connected, collaborative platform supported by right skills, process, technology, infrastructure with a matured governance.

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