As described in the Intel IT Annual Performance Report, “Driving the Digital Enterprise Transformation,” Intel IT’s broad view of the enterprise combined with business savvy and technology experience puts us in a unique leadership position. One pivotal aspect of digital transformation is to define an enterprise architecture (EA). Just as you wouldn’t build a castle (or even a shed) without detailed blueprints, it’s impossible to transform and grow a business without a clear strategy and plan. EA is the blueprint for the corporation and how it works, and how you’re going to deliver business strategy and ultimately business outcomes.
As director of Enterprise Platform Architecture for Intel IT, I am familiar with the challenges and opportunities enterprise architects are tackling in the midst of digital transformation.
Translating Business Needs into Technical Strategies that Produce Business Outcomes
Enterprise architects have a tough job. They have to think strategically but act tactically. A successful enterprise architect can sit down at the boardroom table and discuss where the business needs to go, then translate “business speak” into technical capabilities on the back end. The key to EA is to always focus on business needs first, then how those needs can be met by applying technology.
It comes down to the concept of IQ (intelligence quotient or “raw intelligence”) and EQ (emotional quotient, or “emotional intelligence”). As a recent Forbes article stated, “when it comes to success in business, EQ eats IQ for breakfast.” Good enterprise architects need to have good IQ and EQ. This balance prevents pursuing the latest technology just because it’s cool but instead determining what’s the best way to meet the business need. At the end of the day, an EA should be measured by the business outcomes it’s delivering. Our approach to EA (see below) starts with a business outcome statement, and ends with governance processes to verify we’re achieving those business outcomes and adhering to the EA blueprint.
Moving from Accidental Architecture to Enterprise Architecture
Without an EA, large enterprises like Intel tend to develop “accidental architectures.” What I mean by that is that over time certain applications or solutions get created, and they work—they’re running the business. But then a new need arises, and these solutions grow in an ad hoc manner, with one customization after another. This leads to a high level of complexity and causes performance and stability issues across the entire business landscape. This accrual of technical debt prevents the business from quickly adapting to new trends and markets.
So, it’s not enough to just solve the business’ pain points for the short-term, like this quarter, or even this year. Enterprise architects must take a longer-term view, to ensure that the decisions being made now aren’t going to create a situation where the business cannot continue to grow and change in the future. So, the EA has to be future-proof and we need to plan ahead for the next three years or even five years. That’s not an easy task!
What’s Next for EA at Intel
I am going to be focusing on three EA items:
- Reducing that complexity and looking to consolidate and remove technical debt out of the environment.
- Adding automation into various systems so they can be more self-monitoring and self-healing.
- Cleaning up our data so that it is complete, accurate, and easily accessible to everyone at Intel.
Less complexity, more automation, and better data will free up resources that Intel IT can use to tackle new things and deliver business outcomes and digital transformation according to our new EA blueprints.
Want to Learn More?
Find more details about Intel’s EA, technical debt, and data initiatives in the 2018-2019 Intel IT Annual Performance Report, “Driving the Digital Enterprise Transformation.”