As senior management team sign off on multimillion dollar investments in digitization, thousands of people across all industries are rapidly uncovering new ways to use technology to increase productivity and create a competitive advantage. Line managers should partner more closely with the corporate IT team to ensure their business strategy makes full use of the digital capabilities at the company’s disposal.
The firm’s enterprise architecture (EA) team – whose main task is to describe and document the design of organizations, including processes, systems, reporting structures, and technology – is often well placed to help business partners navigate opportunities for digital innovation. But as line managers now have a much wider range of digital ability and ambition than ever before, EA teams need to understand how to flex the way they engage with business partners, depending on the context of each specific interaction.
EA’s Adaptive Engagement Postures
More of IT’s business partners are in need of a greater range of technology support than ever before. To keep up, EA teams need to find new ways of engaging with stakeholders that don’t rely on business partners bringing projects to IT at inception. EA teams should move from project-focused engagement, to a more flexible combination of five engagement postures. Examples of each are provided below.
It’s important to note that the most effective posture for any activity will vary by stakeholder, and vary over time. For some stakeholders, a combination of postures may be most appropriate. For example, EA may consult business partners in the development of a business capability model and then coach stakeholders on how to use that capability model to guide resource allocation and technology investment decisions.
Evangelizing: EA identifies a new technology solution that can offer near real-time customer preference data to the firm’s marketing department. On their own initiative, EA then introduces this opportunity to the potential end-user and explains how it could be implemented.
When to use: EA should use this posture when applicable new solutions enter the marketplace.
Consulting: EA encourages and supports business-led technology experimentation by providing guidance to business partners as they develop hypotheses, and by offering information about service improvement opportunities.
When to use: This posture is most useful when business partners can benefit from IT expertise but retain ownership over the initiative.
Brokering: EA facilitates collaboration between two disparate business units with overlapping business capability requirements that are considering investments in similar technology.
When to use: Business partners will depend on EA as a broker when they need help orchestrating support or ensuring consistent service performance from a third party, whether external or internal.
Coaching: EA helps business partners develop the skills and competencies required to take full advantage of data analytics tools available across the enterprise.
When to use: This posture is most useful when business partners lack specific expertise — that EA can help them to develop over time — which will enable business partners to make better use of the company’s technology and information.
Delivering: EA develops a tool that business partners can independently use to assess and compare the complexity-level of technology investment options they are considering.
When to use: EA should adopt this posture when business partners’ needs are best met by EA directly applying its expertise to a technology initiative and owning the delivery of the solution to development or engineering teams.