Enterprise architecture (EA) defines how your organization will meet future business problems. Begin to build stability into your organization by creating an enterprise architecture.\nArchitecture details multiple layers of abstraction to form a complete and common view of information, guidance, and direction. Together these benefits form the guardrails for solutions\u2014considering what\u2019s best for the organization\u2014by adding guides and constraints to those solutions.\nEA organizational benefits\nEnterprise architecture forces a decision based on outcomes. Does the organization limp along within the confines of the existing architecture, or does the organization make a strategic decision to be better? This is the beginning of EA.\nShifting from silo-based systems, curating business value, and measuring outcomes will drive your organization away from domain and system silos toward a unified and, more importantly, integrated enterprise ecosystem.\nCIOs have recently moved their attention toward blockchain, artificial intelligence, and cognitive computing. Why? Because they\u2019re sexy. What\u2019s not sexy? You guessed it\u2014enterprise architecture. However, there\u2019s an equally powerful reason for CIOs to spend time talking about enterprise architecture, enabling applications, host infrastructure, business services, and reference architecture: a rock-solid enterprise architecture can transform an organization.\nEnterprise architecture can affect any architectural domain:\n\nStrategy\nBusiness\nData\nApplications\nInfrastructure\nSecurity\n\nEach domain can be used to capture, analyze and visualize plans for change.\nEA business-model benefits\nWhat you sell today may not be what you sell tomorrow. Avon started selling books before shifting to beauty products. Nokia sold paper before experimenting with phones in the 1960s. Wrigley pushed soap and baking powder before shifting to chewing gum. There\u2019s one common element in each of these fundamental business model changes\u2014enterprise architecture. Each company drastically had to shift its strategic goals, business model, data, applications, and technology. A sound enterprise architecture either enables or inhibits organizational agility.\nThere are five common areas that benefit from implementing EA: data management, application development, IT infrastructure, business process, and organizational impact\nData management, application development, and IT infrastructure\u2014when combined with enterprise architecture\u2014influences cost, redundancy, integration, agility, reuse, and standardization. Business process injects modularity, automation, integration agility, and address redundancy. Typically, business-process benefits impact enterprise architecture maturity and governance. These controls act as a supporting framework for decision making.\nEnterprise architecture improves organizational impacts through productivity, agility, product and service timeliness, revenue growth, and cost reduction. Each of these individually can make your case for enterprise architecture. However, combined, these benefits form a compelling business case.\nA methodology for collaborative EA planning\nThe Common Approach to Federal Enterprise Architecture defines the Collaborative Planning Method. The methodology is business-partner centered and is broken down into two phases: (1) Organize and Plan and (2) Implement and Measure.\nOrganize and Plan comprises the first three phases, followed by two phases of Implement and Measure:\n\nIdentify and validate: Engage sponsors and access business-partner needs, analyze and validate needs, formulate a case to address these needs, and identify and engage governance.\nResearch and leverage: Identify organizations and service providers to engage, analyze opportunities to leverage, and determine whether to leverage.\nDefine and plan: Formalize collaborative planning-team and launch planning; define the vision for performance and outcomes; analyze the current state, determine adjustments, and plan the target state; formulate the integrated plan and roadmap; and initiate execution governance.\nInvest and execute: Define the funding strategy and make a decision, obtain resources and validate the plan, and execute the plan.\nPerform and measure: Operate with the new capabilities, measure performance against metrics, and analyze and provide feedback.\n\nIdentify and validate captures the major business needs and priorities objectives between business partners. Research and leverage aligns challenges across the organization (including service providers) and assesses if capabilities can be leveraged to address these needs. Define and plan establishes an integrated plan that could cover any or all of the architecture domains including strategy, business, data, applications, infrastructure, and security. Invest and execute provides the investment decision required to implement changes as specified in the integrated plan. Perform and measure integrates plan objectives and measures performance outcomes against identified metrics.\nA framework for investment\nThe Common Approach to Federal Enterprise Architecture also defines a Consolidated Reference Model. This framework establishes a common language to describe and analyze investments. The framework is made up of six reference models that can be used with some latitude to apply to private sectors:\n\nPerformance reference model: links business-partner strategy, internal business components, and investments to measure the impact of those investments on strategic outcomes\nBusiness reference model: describes an organization through a taxonomy of common objectives and service areas instead of through a siloed organizational view, thereby promoting co-opetition\nData reference model: facilitates discovery of existing siloed data holdings to enable understanding of the data, how to access it, and how to leverage it to support performance results\nApplication reference model: categorizes the system and application-related standards and technologies that support the delivery of service capabilities, allowing business-partners to reuse common solutions and benefit from economies of scale\nInfrastructure reference model: categorizes the network, cloud-related standards and technologies to support and enable the delivery of voice, data, video, and mobile service components and capabilities\nSecurity reference model: provides a common language and methodology for discussing security and privacy in the context of the business partners\u2019 business and performance goals\n\nReference models deconstruct enterprise architecture into useable and tangible assets that encourage organizational reuse. The performance reference model (PRM) focuses on goals and objectives, capturing unique performance indicators. The business reference model (BRM) concentrates on intra- and inter-business partner shared services and customer partners. The data reference model (DRM) targets business-focused data standardization and cross-business partner information exchanges. The application reference model (ARM) details the software that provides functionality including enterprise service bus (ESB) or microservices interactions. The infrastructure reference model (IRM) looks at the hardware providing functionality and the hosting, data centers, cloud, and virtualization components. Lastly, the security reference model (SRM) defines risk-adjusted security and privacy protections, identifying security controls and how these controls are implemented. To summarize:\n\nPRM: goals, measured areas, and measured categories\nBRM: objective, business function, and services\nDRM: domain, subject, and topic\nARM: system, application components, and interfaces\nIRM: platform, network, and facility\nSRM: purpose, risk, and control\n\nEnterprise architecture and the use of applied reference models allows more effective management of information technology portfolios to deliver more consistent positive outcomes.\nEnterprise architecture adoption improves business modularity. This additional flexibility supports faster responses to market conditions that change your competitive landscape.\nUse enterprise architecture wisely. Why? Because it changes how you do business.