Nick Malik challenged his readers by asking:
What is the purpose for EA in your company? How do you answer the question: "This is the measurement that we are paid to improve?"
First of all: what is architecture at all? As I posted before, I think architecture can be defined as "purposeful composition" or, in other words, "meaningful arrangement". No more and no less.
As most architectures Enterprise Architecture has more than one purpose. Those purposes may be conflicting and it is the architects job to balance them.
Back to the question of Nick: The most important purpose of EA - in my opinion - is to offer business continuity in an ever changing context from a holistic point of view. So:
The ability to smoothly follow change, measured in the rate of business continuity being agnostic to change.
Not the ability to change the internals of the distinct components, but the ability to follow changing contexts of the organization as a whole.
Recognized aspects - among others - of change in a business context are:
FunctionalityStrategic design-to-change is what EA is about, in contrast to the tactical design-to-release approach of solution architectures, where the purpose is deployment of "function". A strategic design-to-change cycle has focus on guidance. A tactical design-to-release cycle has focus on version deployment.
Changing vision and business scenario’s; marketing strategies and campaigns; propositions
Changing process chains and dataflows
Changing responsibilities; reorganizations; merging; splitting; out-sourcing; in-sourcing
B2B: connections with changing external environments and partners
B2C and C2B: Application access by ever changing intelligent user-devices
Contracts with changing facilitators and service providers
Compliancy to changing regulations; improvements because of security incidents
Growth of volume, frequency, functionality and geography
Innovation; new generations of software products and devices
I see Enterprise Architecture as the layer of indirection between the business and changing contexts.
I depicted this idea in the "donut" below.
The importance of Enterprise Architecture from the perspective explained above is higher than ever before. The current increasing pace of IT-driven technology evolutions changes the world more rapidly and more globally than ever before, socially as well as technologically. A design-to-change strategy is key to guarantee business continuity - or even business survival - in the current era of exponential rapidly and continuously changing contexts and enforcing compliancy regulations.
From an application and application infrastructure perspective the "donut" may be populated - as illustratively depicted below - with currently available technologies that all support ease of change.