Enterprise architecture as the engine of digital platforms
Why digital platforms should be governed by an architecture of processes, information and applications.
We are immersed in a massive digital transformation.
Digital transformation as an evolution of the productive model of companies, digital transformation as a change in their relationship model with their clients, digital transformation as a disruption in business models and, finally, digital transformation as a change in society, as a radical change the way we work, the way we communicate, the way we organize ourselves, the way we have fun, the way we interact, the way we live …
A transformation that arises and is supported by the explosion of digital technologies, in fixed and mobile broadband communications, in the Internet, in applications, in the cloud, in mobility, in social networks, in Big Data …
One of the concepts that digital transformation brings with it is that of platforms. A name that encompasses two phenomena with a common root but very different in their implications.
On the one hand, platforms as a business model, as ecosystems in which a main actor coordinates a network of agents and partners, companies or people, who interact under a common model to provide differential value to markets and customers.
And platforms as an operating model, as a way in which the different units of a company interact with each other, coordinate and add value to their customers.
Although platforms are mainly a business concept, the truth is that as a technical engine and enabling and essential support, we find advanced IT technology, technology that integrating concepts such as BPM and SOA provide the technological environment that allows and enhances these interactions between the units of business and of these with partners.
But it takes more than a business model and technology for a platform to work properly. Governance and guiding principles are needed to provide consistency, completeness and integrity to the modules that make up the platform.
And at the center of those guiding principles we find the concept of enterprise architecture, an idea that, introduced by Zachman in 1987 in his famous article ‘A framework for information systems architecture’, has evolved from a vision dominated by the IT perspective. to a more business-focused vision.
Enterprise architecture provides us with a structure for business concepts. Although there are many variants, and no clearly dominant model, we can consider that an enterprise architecture typically includes the following three planes:
- A map of processes of the company
- A map of information corporate
- A map of Applications
These three maps are usually accompanied by a technological and integration architecture that guide and delimit the construction and integration of systems, selecting technologies and standards.
The role of enterprise architecture is to provide completeness, order and coherence, offering, in the three indicated planes, processes, information and applications, a map where the elements that compose them have these three properties:
- The union of all the elements of each plane (process, information or applications) provides the complete vision of the company in that plane
- The elements of each plane do not overlap each other
- There are no gaps between the elements of a plane
In addition, the elements of the plans are related to each other with a perfect and known traceability:
- Business processes use information entities and are implemented on applications
- Information entities are housed in databases and application software and constitute the data that drives business processes.
- Each application implements a series of process elements and manages a series of information entities.
In the private sphere or in C2C relationships, things can evolve in many ways, but when we talk about business and the corporate sphere, companies that aspire to be leaders in the digital world will do well to perfect and fine-tune their digital platforms. and, in doing so, govern those platforms with the principles of enterprise architecture.
Header photo by Andres Garcia