What is “the Enterprise” in the Mind of an EA?

By The Elyon Team

With all the adamant touting on behalf of the business transformation tool commonly known as Enterprise Architecture (EA), it seems that the important word enterprise has, regrettably, been scantily defined. Even among the steadily growing community of worldwide EA practitioners, who of course are supposed to be leading the way in accurately defining words for their respective organizations, the most important word in the entire industry remains a mystery.

This excludes, naturally, those who have joined the world of PEAF, which stands for Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Framework. PEAF’s creator Kevin Smith has likened EA to a garden scenario in which EA correlates to the broad and wide-scoped task of setting up the environment for the garden, rather than the detail-oriented work of buying supplies, laying piping, and the like. Claiming that EA sets up the garden’s environment is a transformative concept with staggering implications, even if only for the simple fact that it relies on a description of the enterprise that seems so alien to the “mainstream” understanding of the enterprise, including the views held by many EA practitioners.

If EA refers to the environment, the context, then it includes the consideration of many factors and aspects of reality, extending beyond the firm itself. Like in a garden, the weather must be considered as an influence, as well as pests and zoning laws and vehicular accessibility etc. As Kevin Smith notes in his introductory book on PEAF, the enterprise must include “communities, governments, non-clients, non-suppliers, anti-clients, etc.).

If this is the case, and we here at Elyon are convinced that it is, then the implications are important. In fact, the current struggle that the EA world faces in differentiating between EA and E(IT)A can be removed simply by defining the word enterprise correctly. For if EA was an IT-only issue, then the “E” must be defined in a way that strips it of its power. But Elyon and PEAF refuse to do that. We insist that EA is nothing without the power and effectiveness of the Enterprise.

And only when we look through that holistic lens can transformation begin to take root.