The much-anticipated The Cloverfield Paradox was recently released on Netflix.\u00a0 While the surprise trailer and announcement received much praise, the movie itself was widely (and sometimes, thoroughly) panned.\u00a0 I enjoyed it.\u00a0 (I have an admittedly low bar for what constitutes an enjoyable movie.)\u00a0 Regardless, I do like the idea of an anthology of loosely coupled concepts around a central theme.\u00a0 It provides the freedom of countless creative options, but it also introduces the challenges of continuity and connectivity within the series over various timelines and contexts.\nI also like paradoxes.\nOn the professional front, I\u2019ve noticed that enterprise architecture (EA) is making quite the comeback.\u00a0 According to a 2017 Harvey Nash\/KPMG CIO survey, \u201carchitecture staged a comeback after several years of decline.\u201d\u00a0 A decline?\u00a0 Then, why the sudden 26-percent uptick from the 2016 survey?\u00a0 And, what were the causes of any decline?\u00a0 A potential paradox, indeed.\nWhile the enterprise architecture practice generally began in the IT unit at most organizations, enterprise architecture-like activities were also happening elsewhere.\u00a0 Regardless of where EA originates within a given company, enterprise architects have historically struggled, not truly knowing and architecting their enterprise.\nIn the world of EA before the 21st century, companies were able to successfully operate in functional and departmental silos, so there was no real penalty to EA efforts that didn\u2019t cover the enterprise.\u00a0 Architects who only saw the IT areas\u2014applications, technology\/infrastructure, and data (sometimes, but usually not elevating into information)\u2014were unable to connect the architecture to operational or financial results. \u00a0Many of us are familiar with the \u201cyou aren\u2019t\/weren\u2019t invited because this isn\u2019t\/wasn\u2019t an IT-related discussion\u201d challenges that have hindered getting visibility into the human and machine interactions.\u00a0 Conversely, EAs coming from the perspectives of business strategy or business process were not able to see, relate to, or did not have much interest in the IT-specific complexities and opportunities.\nAs the business and operational impact of technology continued to evolve, business leaders started seeing the state of their fractured enterprises and holding enterprise architecture departments to account.\u00a0 Enterprise architecture efforts were being disbanded\u2014increasingly so as Agile and Scrum trends were on the rise.\u00a0 (I contend that Agile methodologies like Scrum only really work at the intersection of a supporting organizational culture and underlying architecture.\u00a0 It is not sustainable in the long term if either of these two supports begin to diverge.\u00a0 Agile works really well when there is little or no legacy architecture involved.)\nIt\u2019s hard to justify your existence when your role or title reflects \u201centerprise architecture,\u201d yet you were unable (for any reason) to actually do so and demonstrate business value.\u00a0 That\u2019s why the decline occurred.\u00a0 But, we have to also consider the fact that there wouldn\u2019t be any decline in EA at organizations that already figured out how to get value out of it.\nSurviving EA practices did so by realizing what Robert Frost once wrote: \u201c[People] work together whether they work together or apart.\u201d\u00a0 They were able to successfully identify the person-to-person, person-to-machine, and machine-to-machine linkages present across their enterprise.\u00a0 They were able to successfully communicate these connections and how changes thereto can enable better business results.\u00a0 They were able to continuously evolve their organization\u2019s operating model to capitalize on technology\u2019s evolution and societal changes.\u00a0 (And, they did so with more agility and much less internal friction.)\nThe apparent flash-point of technological ubiquity simultaneously shines a spotlight on \u201cthe enterprise\u201d while challenging the very definition of it. \u00a0Digital expands the reach of the enterprise and its surrounding ecosystem.\u00a0 This brings some clarity to the interconnectedness of people, process, and technology inside the enterprise, but exposes new and yet-more-opaque areas of external business integration, omnichannel, chatbots, RPA-enabled business processes, a world of \u201cthings,\u201d and AI.\nYes, this amorphous thing we call \u201cdigital transformation\u201d is too an anthology of loosely coupled concepts.\u00a0 Gartner\u2019s research on what they refer to as the \u201cdigital business technology platform\u201d reinforces this new landscape by laying out components like customer portals and apps, API management, core and back-office systems, analytics, the various \u201cthings\u201d in the growing IoT, and algorithm and AI engines.\nThis brings us to the uptick in enterprise architecture.\u00a0 I think organizations now have a better idea of what they\u2019re looking for from an EA.\u00a0 When done properly, it can be instrumental to unlocking the value in all initiatives\u2014digital or otherwise.\u00a0 \u00a0Enterprise architecture becomes extremely irrelevant when it is only producing diagrams and documentation disconnected from successful business results.\nSo, was the digital transformation trend borne out of past success in EA efforts to meet technology-led change or is the future success in EA efforts a result of addressing digital disruption and transformation?\u00a0 I believe the answer is a paradoxical knot of two yeses.\u00a0 EA was able to sustain missing the enterprise in its past, but the digital imperative brings a Cloverfield monster-sized challenge.