Digital Transformation’s Pivotal Partner: Business Architecture


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Businesses undergoing digital transformation seek to create and strengthen the connection between technology solutions and business needs. However, these organizations often run into difficulty because they lack skilled talent. According to a recent report by leading analyst firm, Forrester, only about 15 percent of organizations feel they have the people in place to meet their digital business transformation goals.

That’s because digital transformation creates the need for a new breed of expert guides, familiar with the terrain. Who exactly are these experts in digital transformation? Business architects. They formulate business blueprints designed to provide a common understanding of the organization. They align strategic objectives with tactical demands, specifically related to the technologies that can deliver on the promise of digital transformation. Employees equipped with business architecture skills have the potential to help companies collaborate more effectively, increase return on investment for new technologies and open up new growth opportunities.

The Dual Roles of Business Architecture
Business architecture experts couple advanced business acumen with strong technical knowledge to develop and execute digital roadmaps. They work to identify critical business functions and map technology solutions to business outcomes. There are two primary roles that they can play.

One is the customer consultant. Business architects who work for technology vendors or solution providers serve as trusted partners to the companies their solutions are sold to – they help enterprise customers get more value from their digital transformation initiatives and drive business outcomes. Their work involves four primary areas: enterprise architecture, technical consulting, business management and consultative selling.

The other role is that of the internal analyst. Business architecture professionals in enterprise organizations are often employed to focus on internal challenges. These professionals often come from varied backgrounds, including product managers, technical leads or engineers. Having navigated enterprise architecture frameworks, they can look at business needs from an insider’s perspective and determine what technologies and what digital transformation milestones will best serve the organization’s strategic goals.

Business Architects Possess a Multitude of Skills
There are many varied skills involved in being a business architecture professional. These include a foundational understanding of routing/switching, wireless, collaboration, security and other technologies that businesses rely on. Technical skills and capabilities are complemented by an understanding of business principles and a practical view of how enterprises work. Business architecture is best applied with a deep understanding of digital journeys, business roadmaps and how to map specific business priorities to outcomes and solutions.

In the customer consultant role, business architecture professionals typically collaborate with organizations at the start of the sales process to address customer needs. This requires extensive communication before, during and after technological deployment. Considerations such as meeting quotas or trying to move a particular product take a back seat to business goals. Instead, the business architecture professional takes into account the maturity level of the organization and works to provide solutions best suited to the customer’s needs and organization’s capabilities.

If, instead, working in the internal analyst role within an enterprise, business architecture professionals assume a strategic mindset, evaluating how different technologies could be used to activate business goals, such as reducing costs, growing revenue or improving efficiency. These individuals must work across the enterprise, collaborating with business and IT departments, to determine strategic priorities and map those priorities to specific digital transformation initiatives. Technical expertise, collaboration and business acumen are vital skills in this role.

A Practical Example
Across the board, business architecture professionals are accelerating digital transformation.

GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, offers a prime example. When GE Aviation transformed its business model from selling jet engines to providing a host of performance enhancements across the management of a flight, the company needed to find ways to drive adoption and integration of new services and drive additional value.

Aiding in the process, the business architecture professional worked to identify pain points, map solutions, and integrate the correct technologies and services to drive incremental value. Essentially, the business architecture professional drove service adoption and growth for GE Aviation by mapping outcomes to digital solutions.

Strengthening the Connection between Business and Technology
Digital business transformation holds the promise of significant benefits – increased growth, improved efficiency and expanded adoption of new products. It also comes with its challenges, and is best approached with navigational support from the business architecture professional. As customer consultants, business architects support and enable sales, maximize customer interactions and help customers achieve their digital transformation goals. In internal analyst roles, these professionals enable greater success for the organization in terms of growth and revenue.

In order to capitalize on these benefits, organizations can develop internal talent with technical and business skills in business architecture. By providing employees training and certification opportunities specific to the practice of business architecture , organizations ultimately create and strengthen the connection between technology solutions and business outcomes.

Tejas Vashi
Tejas Vashi is an advocate for learning and its critical impact on business transformation. In his role as senior director of product strategy and marketing at Learning@Cisco, he is responsible for defining the education strategy, driving business innovation and establishing strategic industry partnerships. A technology industry and Cisco veteran, he has seen firsthand the effect that technology can have in driving business growth and is considered a thought leader in learning as it applies to business transformation.


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