Architecture and Dynamics in Business

Dynamic Business Environments, Static IT Architectures Create Constant Battle

There are several reasons for the IT alignment problem. Consider the Zachman Framework approach, for example, using successive transformation of views of the information systems architecture. If the technology in row 4 is changed, it impacts the design, or the system logic in row 3 above, (see diagram below). If the business changes, then the design represented by row 3 is impacted by the business changes. This is known as the “row 3 squeeze” so design is impacted from two directions. Change is most likely from the business side as the organization reacts to changes in the business environment.

Below is the diagram that shows the layers of architecture in an enterprise ranging from dynamic to stable architectures. Each architecture layer, as shown in the diagram, has characteristics that are different from the layers on either side. One key characteristic is the amount of change over time for each layer. The part of the architecture suite that is most dynamic is the point which perceived market needs are developed to respond to the changing business environment. Architectures become more stable as they approach the enablers, as enablers, including systems, are the most stable architecture to develop and manage.

The layering of architectures from the business environment down to the enablers

Architecture and Dynamics

Enablers include the digital part of the business managed by IT as well as skills, policies, procedures and business technology. It is no wonder alignment of architecture is such a big problem. Perhaps virtualization and SOA technologies will help increase the alignment possibilities between IT and the business.

There are multiple models in an architecture layer. As an example, the classic functional decomposition of processes is shown as a hierarchical, or tree structure. This logical nesting of the organization's processes shows only unique process names. Another tree structure process model shows the same process names but is constructed to show the sequence of execution of the processes. In this second hierarchical model, a process name may appear many times. These models, along with process flow models, workflow models, case management models and process context matrices, represent the actions of the business, which form the business process architecture.

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Frank Kowalkowski