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Why should CIOs worry about enterprise architecture?

Why should CIOs worry about enterprise architecture?

Basically, for career protection and enhancement.

At one time it was unusual for a CIO to be involved in major C-suite decision-making, except perhaps at budget-setting time. Today the digital revolution has changed the game. CIOs are now expected to take leadership roles, such as directing product/service strategy and harnessing the technology to drive major business change. Success in these roles requires a CIO to get to grips with their organisation’s business challenges to an extent that would have blown the mind of an old-style DP manager.

Digitising an organisation’s products and services requires a broad appreciation of external market conditions, as well as an understanding of the potential of the technology and its associated costs and risks. But equally important is the knowledge of the organisation’s existing capabilities, and both where and how these need to change. To be a well-informed strategic player, a CIO will need access to a reliable and well-managed enterprise architecture that covers the critical aspects of both the current and potential future states of the organisation, as well as the road-maps needed to bridge between these states.

Such knowledge of the business operating model is also vital when M&A is on the strategic agenda, or when organisations plan to outsource critical business processes. This is because a common reason for the failure of such ventures is the inability or the unwillingness of over-ambitious business executives to appreciate their operational consequences. All too often the CIO can end up serving as a convenient fall-guy when things go wrong. Armed with the evidence provided by their organisation’s enterprise architecture, a smart CIO will be well-positioned to inform and guide the top-level decision-making processes in such cases. And if business executives then choose to ignore this advice and guidance, then the CIOs should at least have more time to explore more promising career paths.

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