How dynamic business models can enhance Enterprise Architectures for information-systems planning

Long ago, I was responsible for a business division’s information-systems (IS) strategy. I was not much good at that, but to be fair to myself, the methods for the task were not much use either. The Strategy field had nothing to offer, so the IS profession had tried to figure out for itself how to get a business strategy defined in a way they could build on.

How things have moved on !! Today, the IS world has a very substantial and solid process to create and maintain strong IS strategies and implementation, based on “Enterprise Architectures”. Moreover, a global industry body – the Open Group – defines how to build and use these things, through The Open Group Architecture Framework, or TOGAF.

What is Enterprise Architecture? (EA)

In very summary terms (IS professionals, please forgive this gross simplification!) an EA starts from a target business architecture, describing how the enterprise needs to operate to achieve its business goals. From there, the process develops a data architecture (what data is needed and how it’s organised) and an applications architecture (what apps are needed and how they are linked). These in turn inform the choice of technology.

The Business Architecture is critical

This EA structure implies that the completeness and robustness of this whole effort is critically dependent on the quality of that business architecture at the top. If that is poorly defined, the whole EA is built on sand and is thus a poor basis for the IS strategy.

From what I can tell, an EA “business architecture” coming out of TOGAF is essentially what others would call a “business model”. Typically, a set of shape/word/arrow diagrams capturing all the processes in the business.

Those diagrams are descriptive and qualitative in style, and very diverse in content and layout, in spite of the rigorous TOGAF method used to create them.

Can we improve on how EAs are built?

Now I have explained before that process models and dynamic models are related – but differ in a quite fundamental way. While process models describe what is done to the “things” that make up the business system, dynamic business models capture those “things” themselves. And they quantify those things, formulate the relationships that determine their values, and play out how they change over time.

This makes a DBM a “digital twin”, that mimics, visually, how the real-world business actually works, with numbers. And since the model’s elements are all observable and measurable in the real world, it is immediately obvious if the model is in any way incomplete or inaccurate.

… and DBMs take less effort and time to build than process models, a by avoiding the ambiguity and subjectivity that is unavoidable in creating qualitative models.

What dynamic models can add to Enterprise Architectures

It is beyond the scope of this post to expand on and demonstrate all this, but given these features of dynamic models, they could substantially enhance EA efforts, by:

  • making EAs more rigorous and powerful

  • raising stakeholders’ confidence in the process and in the result

  • substantially reducing effort and cost

  • making the EA a truly living tool

  • enhancing the capability and prestige of IS professionals and others involved

Learn more in this mini-course about Enterprise Architectures, about dynamic business models (including a real-world example) and about how those models can substantially enhance EA efforts. Get the course for HALF PRICE – enter the coupon ‘mini50‘ at checkout.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *