Part 3: The Architecture Journey — How is Enterprise Architecture Evolving?

Digital Transformation Perth held a panel discussion to tackle the topic of managing enterprise evolution in an architectural context. The panellists were Cristian Southall (CTO of JourneyOne), Darryl Carr (JourneyOne Solutioniser/EA Consultant), and Jackie O’Dowd (CEO of Realising-Potential). 

Below follows the transcript of Part 3 of the evening’s opening discussion. 

Interviewer: As architecture evolves, what are some of the progressive changes you’re most excited about? 

Enterprise Architect Jackie O'Dowd

Jackie: I think there is a realisation, finally, that it’s needed. People don’t know what to do with it, but they think they need it. That’s one of the transformations.  

Secondly, from what I see, there’s a falling away of the framework and certification push that’s been going on for God knows how many years. It’s now about what we can do, how we do it, when we do it, and what makes our organisation different. So, part of that evolution is doing just enough to get the results that you need to make the organisation viable and more confident in its future. Without that, we’ve got nothing.

Enterprise architect Darryl Carr

Darryl: There’s a couple of things that have happened recently. One is the increasing presence of business architecture. That’s good to see because it ties the IT architecture world, which is what traditionally EA was, back to business value. It gives a sense of purpose. So, having business architecture increasing its visibility is a good thing for a lot of very good business architects around the world.  

Second is something I’ve been talking about a lot lately: collaboration between disciplines. So, trying to make architects realise they’re part of a change discipline. There’s a whole bunch of other disciplines that have complementary skills and they should be working with them, not trying to control the situation.

Cristian Southall Headshot

Cristian: Architecture as a discipline is there to support change. The kind of architecture that we know has come out of IT / Information Systems practice, and we’ve been trying to shake that off for a bit. I think it took technologists to put some structure around some of our approaches to strategy and capturing organisations so we can reason about them and visualise change to them. So, it took some of that structure, but we then had to expose people outside of technology to how that was done.  

The pendulum is swinging the other way, though. There’s been an attempt in architecture to force-converge some of the architecture practice and technology practice again. I’m thinking particularly around agile architecture and emergent architecture, etc, which I’m not dismissing out of hand, but I think it’s a movement that was forced. However, there are some aspects that are amongst some of the most exciting things. So, rather than just trying to take a broad field like agile and smoosh it with architecture, I’m looking at something like data mesh, which sounds like a thing, but it’s like agile – it’s more like a process, a set of principles for delivering functionality as systems within our organisation; be that technology, data, people, process.  

When I started in the software space back in the 90s, domain driven design was a technique and it has remained this core, unchanging aspect of software development ever since. There’s a good reason for that.  

Then what I’m seeing with something like data mesh is that it’s taking that domain driven approach and using it as a lingua franca for us to talk about the organisation as a whole. So, we’re unifying our concepts, our delivery, our products, our people and our data around the business, as described in this domain model. I think we’ve got a long way to run on this yet, but I’m finding it really exciting. I’m working with some organisations at the moment where we’re doing that thing that architects do: take a framework that we think is going to help us change (but that we know we couldn’t possibly get past the organisation) and use it to inform every action that we take whilst trying not to say too much about it. 

Continue to Part 4 of the discussion >>