How to define Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise architecture is an architecture that encompasses an entire organization. An enterprise architecture is not limited to the technical or ICT domain (functionality, applications and infrastructure), but rather connects to the organizational domain, with business processes, organizational structure, products and services. Experience has shown that successful application of ICT in an organization requires more than just the implementation of that technology, it is about changing the organization that ICT is part of. Moreover, ICT is increasingly becoming an ‘enabler’ of that organizational change and innovation. An enterprise architecture can therefore not be described as a one-dimensional architecture. It is essential that this is seen as one consistent enterprise architecture that you can look at from different angles.

An enterprise architecture serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it is a communication tool to provide insight into the relationship between all these aspects. That is why an enterprise architecture often pays a lot of attention to design; after all, it is a means of communication to provide insight into something complex. On the other hand, an enterprise architecture is also a steering tool. The models, principles and guidelines form frameworks for changes that are implemented over time in business processes, functionality, applications and infrastructure.

Enterprise architecture focuses on the entire organization. In an enterprise architecture, it is not about the individual systems, but rather about the connection between business processes, products and services, functionality, applications and technical facilities in an organization. Within the enterprise architecture, different sub-architectures are often recognized. We distinguish the following four:

  • Business architecture provides insight into the organization of the business processes and their mutual relationships, and the relationships with the processes in the environment (chain) of the organization concerned.
  • Information architecture provides insight into the relationship between functionality (functional areas), their interdependencies and data flows.
  • Application architecture provides insight into the concrete applications and their mutual relationships.
  • Technical architecture portrays the really physical aspects, the technical infrastructure, such as the hardware and networks.

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