Today, technology is becoming a pivotal enabler for businesses. At the heart of this, the role of the CIO is evolving from that of a technology expert to a business strategist. As such, the modern CIO faces a new challenge - aligning IT strategy, technology and processes with much broader business objectives in mind.
That said, CIOs need help and Enterprise Architects (EAs) are best placed to influence and guide these digital transformations. That’s because the key role of an Enterprise Architect is to create a scalable framework of IT assets and business processes aligned to corporate governance that supports the organisation to deliver on its goals and strategic objectives. As such, CIO’s are increasingly turning to Enterprise Architects to help bridge the divide between IT and the business and drive digital transformation.
So how can Enterprise Architecture meet the various pain points of the modern CIO?
Guesswork and delay in decision making
According to the Boston Consulting Group, 80% of companies are now attempting to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. Meanwhile, IDC predicts that through 2022, 70% of organisations will have accelerated their use of digital technologies, transforming existing business processes to drive business resiliency. With digital initiatives evolving at such an impressive rate, CIO’s will need to make smarter, faster decisions that enable transformation.
However, business decisions require quantifiable, contextual, and actionable insights that provide enough value to justify an investment. That’s why CIOs are increasingly turning to EAs, as they are uniquely positioned to identify enterprise data opportunities that people working within silos are unable to do so. Additionally, EAs can understand end-to-end data flows to ensure optimisation, ensuring that digital and business strategies are aligned to meet an organisation’s needs of the present and future. Consequently, these advantages can translate into practical applications that are critical to measurable business outcomes, making EAs key collaborators for CIOs in driving data-driven decision making.
Spiralling technology costs, mounting technical debt and increasing complexity
IT represents an important part of total spending yet its direct contribution to overall revenues and profits is sometimes difficult to assess. As an unsurprising result, many organisations are eager to squeeze their CIO’s budgets to reduce costs across the IT portfolio. Undoubtedly, significant reductions are possible if companies take a broader look at the way they manage their IT strategy as a whole.
Indeed, CIOs need to focus on controlled investment across their technology portfolio. This is made possible with the support of Enterprise Architects and their ability to lay foundations for teams to determine what will be of most use to the business. With clear visibility across the entire IT portfolio, and a comprehensive view on how different projects interface together, Enterprise Architects can use EA tools on the whole to prioritise high value, low complexity tasks. As such, EA helps to fundamentally establish a single source of truth in otherwise somewhat chaotic technology landscapes. This helps CIOs develop a clear roadmap to remove redundant technologies and data, thus reducing costs.
In December 2020, an advanced persistent threat group orchestrated a supply-chain attack on SolarWinds. Using a backdoor program referred to as ‘Sunburst’, the group was able to gain access to sensitive information while remaining virtually undetected, infecting many of SolarWinds’ customers and exposing leading technology businesses such as Cisco and Microsoft. This latest attack has served as a wake-up call for CIOs to find new ways to defend themselves against sophisticated cybersecurity attacks through giving their security architecture teams the best software tools available on the market.
Security architecture offers complete oversight and control over cybersecurity operations business-wide, operating several levels above threat management or the direct implementation of security platforms. Additionally, there are Enterprise Architecture tools that give teams on the ground an enormous advantage when it comes to taking remedial action - for instance, being able to track every single instance of a breach or infiltration once it has been identified. Ultimately, Enterprise Architecture offers businesses a workable methodology and framework for CIOs to follow. This is not only for organisations to defend themselves but to revolutionise how they manage security from the inside out.
Constrained by existing tools
In response to governments across the globe issuing “stay at home” orders for their citizens to help control the spread of COVID-19, CIOs have found themselves having to scramble to ensure they have the technology resources needed to enable mass remote working for their workforces. This has led to a surge in demand for Cloud-based video conferencing tools, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and Cloud business productivity tools to ensure employees can continue to communicate and collaborate as they did in the office.
Of course, having to pivot at pace and scale in such a way is a real challenge for CIOs alone. Instead, CIOs can leverage insights via Enterprise Architecture to both guide and de-risk this journey, unlocking its full potential. This can lead to several benefits, such as giving enterprises a competitive edge, reducing operational costs and increasing the effectiveness of IT processes.
Ultimately, when we consider the number of challenges CIOs face today to deliver digital transformation objectives, CIOs would do well to employ Enterprise Architecture teams supported by modern tools to develop secure technology roadmaps for the future.