Enterprise Architecture as a Consumer Advocacy Organisation
A bit of a background story first. Since I joined the company I am promoting the value of information and putting EA as a discipline capable of getting and providing relevant, unbiased and timely information for decision makers. Specifically, information about what consequences and options there are when changing a piece of an enterprise. (Here I am more general because I include Business Architecture under the EA umbrella as well).
I am trying to explain the role of EA in this case on an analogy of a consumer advocacy organization such as “which?”, “Stiftung Warentest”, “dTest” and similar. The story goes like this and it’s a real story from Czech Republic:
Just recently dTest assessed selected ketchup products on the market, from well-known brands to “cheap” brand products of store chains. Surprise surprise, it became obvious that some of them met tomatoes only from a distance, some contain quite some artificial ingredients or even pieces of small living nature. Now, dTest has neither the authority to ban these products nor it can in any way forbid customers to buy them. Nevertheless, the power of information and transparency leads to a change anyway. First of all, customers realized what they were eating and changed their brand preference or even their habits [I’ve got concrete names here]. Second of all, chain stores such as Billa or Tesco and others reacted as well, either by dismissing the product from their offering since ‘it’s not aligned with the quality level the company want’s to offer their customers”, or simply by not calling it ketchup, but a tomato-based sauce instead [you guess who’s who].
I am trying to build up EA function at my organization in a very similar sense. EA provides information to decision makers on investments. Once it’s practically proven that the information is actually useful and it helps to make sense of the possible solutions, decision makers will start seeking the information. Once there’s demand for the information, EA function has much easier job putting methods & tools in place to get the information (this is in fact another part of the story not captured by the analogy and I’ll focus on it in another post). Without enforcement or authority. Later on even projects get on board and will request EA assistance so they can build solutions that have an easy way through decision-making bodies within projects.
And here is just a small sketch to underline the story.
Note: There are different funding models for consumer advocacy organisations. The one I mentioned is not funded by ads and hence is considered unbiased. This might not be the case with the rest.