Enterprise Leverage

Focused Efforts Producing Significant Results

Enterprise leverage occurs when a focused effort produces significant results for the enterprise and its strategy. How do Enterprise Architects help the CIO produce enterprise leverage?

Enterprise Architecture (EA) has to go beyond simply improving operational efficiency, reducing costs and providing technical excellence.

Here are my suggestions for how the EA role could adapt to meet these needs:

  • EA must focus effort to produce substantial results for the enterprise and its strategy. OK so EA should always deliver results. But some EA efforts get side-tracked and overwhelmed by the immensity of the task or end up producing a rainforest of documents. And other programs deliver value, but not the really momentous outcome that changes history.
  • EA must provide a significant contribution to business growth. There should be a clear, direct, measurable link that shows EA plays a major part in sustainable business growth. And personally I don’t think that “growth” should be taken to mean “commercial success”. For me, growth is becoming better, being truly customer-focused, protecting the environment and making a positive impact in the world. Successful EA projects show ROI, but this is often a measure of cost cutting or efficiency rather than growth.
  • EA must build new strategic capabilities. Technology can, and is, replicated from one company to another. Information is more specific to a particular company. By focusing on information first and technology second, EA can support innovative strategies that are hard to replicate. Improving the effective use of information leverages unique enterprise-specific resources.
  • EA must create significant change with limited effort. EA will need to focus on key leverage points, instead of large-scale change programs. There will still be a need for enterprise-wide integration and consolidation of IT, which simplifies and harmonises things that are already in place. In contrast, focused change can transform and introduce radically new ways of doing things.
  • EA must create competitive advantage to avoid commoditization in the market. It is so easy to follow trends and do what everyone else is doing. Sometimes we need to do that too. But a stronger approach is to develop something that is genuinely different from competitors – something that is hard or impossible to emulate or copy.

If I was to sum up the emerging EA role it is to create enterprise leverage through focused change efforts that create unique business advantage by transforming organizational use of information. (A big mouthful, but I couldn’t get it any shorter than that.)