Survey: Enterprise Architecture Helps CIOs 'Hunt' and 'Harvest'

Your organization's enterprise architects may be the CIO's new best friend, according to the results of a newly published Gartner survey. Pressure on these executives to identify "innovative new business models and technologies" may be causing them to look at EA more strategically to support a new agenda of "hunting and harvesting" in a digital world.

In the report on Gartner's 2013 survey of CEOs and senior executives ("Gartner's 2013 CIO Survey Provides Keys to EA Success"), analysts noted the unique value of an enterprise architect's skillset.

"For enterprise architects, particularly those who sit within the IT organization, this is a great opportunity to move EA into a more strategic role," said Marcus Blosch, Gartner research vice president, in a statement. "Business-outcome-driven EA is integral to achieving each of these areas to provide insight and support decision making. The EA team currently has the opportunity to become more strategic by aligning itself to support the CIO and the organization."

Fifty-two percent of the survey respondents reported having a "digital strategy." Gartner groups "digital technologies" under the heading "Nexus of Forces," which includes mobile, social media, big data and analytics, and the Internet of Things. To mount an effective digital strategy, the analysts argue, CIO have to go beyond "tending" IT to "hunting and harvesting for digital value."

EA supports both hunting and harvesting, the analysts conclude, by "linking new technologies and innovations to the strategy and future-state business capabilities." The "hunting" involves technology tracking, and it's up to the CIOs to create management processes to support it. The "harvesting" is about identifying and delivering outcomes and involves techniques such as business capability modeling.

"Capabilities created in one area of the business can be harvested in others, using EA to identify where potential synergies exist," Blosch said. "Hunting and harvesting rely on good relationships with business executives and enterprise architects can use business-outcome-driven EA to build these relationships."

"With the global economy still struggling, enterprise architects around the world will need to use EA to help drive growth and innovation, while at the same time identifying opportunities for performance improvement and cost cutting at a time when IT budgets are flat," Blosch said.

"These competencies must be combined with more-agile approaches to innovation," he added, "such as being able to run experiments. The ability to identify an opportunity, quickly set it up and pilot it, assess the results and decide to expand into another cycle or kill off is needed to support both hunting and harvesting. Enterprise architecture can support this by providing the enabling and diagnostics deliverables as part of the hypothesis formation, setting up the pilot and assessing the results."

Gartner's "Nexus of Forces" is on the agenda of the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013 (Oct. 6-10 in Orlando, Florida).

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].