Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, and more generally during any crisis, one word has been on everyone’s mind and lips: RESILIENCE. Behind the concept, often full of hope, there lies a real anticipation for surviving during a crisis and bouncing back from it. This is one of the key roles of Enterprise Architecture (EA).
Resilience: a way to focus on what matters most
Even if weak signals can make it predictable, a crisis remains generally sudden, following a trigger: this is the case of the US mortgage crash in 2006, which led to the financial crisis in 2008, or the global COVID-19 pandemic, which paralyzed the economy in 2020.
When the crisis strikes, the best prepared organizations will be able to face it most effectively i.e., those which can focus on the capacities most critical to their business. This might seem obvious, but the reality is much more complex. After identifying the criticality of business processes and capabilities, the next important task is to identify the interdependencies between the processes, and all the IT services associated with them. This activity will help prepare organizations to maintain critical business capabilities under operational conditions.
When the COVID-19 lockdown took place in several countries in March 2020, the best prepared organizations were able to implement their immediate business continuity plan combining on-site presence, reducing employees’ hours, and teleworking – with an information system ready to integrate new ways of doing business in “downgraded mode.”
Transformation: how to adapt to the post-crisis world
All crises, whatever their nature, have one thing in common: they leave the world changed. In the post-crisis world, things don’t return to normal because now there’s a new normal dependent on technological, regulatory, and economic developments that happened during the crisis.
This is the power of a business resiliency plan: not waiting for the world to return to its initial state but anticipating the developments to come during the crisis and prepare for them now, before the crisis subsides. In fact, resilience is not just about surviving, but knowing how to bounce back, at the risk of finding oneself unsuited to the post-crisis world.
Throughout the crisis, organizations must think about the evolution of their business model, organization, processes, products, and even their services. In this context, the role of enterprise architecture is to consider several scenarios, associate them with the needed evolution of IT services, and help managers make the right decisions.
Enterprise architecture: the heart of resilience
During the 2020 pandemic, enterprise architecture teams have been in great demand for the immediate and future migration of business applications to the cloud – depending on their business criticality, feasibility, security, budget, development strategies, etc. EA teams have also been crucial to accelerating the digitization of processes, like remote contract signing for example.
Enterprise architects are part of a multidisciplinary team able to understand company structure, as well as the transformation projects that will support a rapid rebound once the crisis has passed. Enterprise architects can capture company strategy and translate objectives into the necessary business capabilities. While working alongside business analysts, application owners, IT and solution architects, enterprise architects can translate business objectives into clearly defined business transformation projects.
As the digitalization of business accelerates, enterprise architects are the essential interface between IT and the business. In times of crisis, they facilitate business continuity by focusing resources on the company’s critical capabilities and help accelerate the rebound once the crisis has passed by making the most of the new environment. Enterprise architects provide business resiliency, needed to not only survive a crisis, but thrive post-crisis.
About the author
Robert Raiola has over 25 years of experience managing sales and marketing teams in the high-tech industry. After more than 10 years at Microsoft France, he joined Adobe for 8 years and led marketing teams in France and then EMEA. Since 2014, Robert has served as Chief Marketing Officer at MEGA International, a global software firm recognized as a leader in enterprise architecture. In his position as CMO, Robert helps MEGA communicate the value of combining enterprise architecture, data governance, and GRC to support digital business transformation.