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COVID-19 - Is Enterprise Architecture Now a Luxury?

Ryan Grant

14 May 2020

by Ryan Grant

( Words)

The long-term economic impact of Covid-19 is yet to be seen, but one thing we can be sure of is that there is going to be a long road to recovery for most industries, with many companies not surviving the pandemic’s effect.

What has become clear is that in times of economic uncertainty hiring budgets are usually the first thing to be cut, as the time comes to reduce cost and increase the efficiency of a leaner workforce. According to LinkedIn data, the countries hit hardest by Covid-19 have reduced their hiring by a mind-blowing 40-45%.

Moreover, with the unique furlough scheme in place, companies are having to make tough choices about which of their employees are more valuable than others. Whilst technology professionals are comparatively better off than those other job types, it has become clear that in a time of crisis and economic downturn they are also not exempt from this decision-making process.

‘What Is Business Critical?’

Every single company is now asking themselves this question. Some parts of the technology function are more downturn resistant than others – such as crucial roles in Information Security, Data & Infrastructure – where companies can’t risk security breaches, not knowing where or how customer data is being used and can’t afford for their technology platforms and products to stop working.

Where does this leave IT Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture – often referred to as the ‘town-planning’ part of the tech function – is the forward-looking, strategic team that aligns both the business and technology strategies, targets operating models and spots opportunities for commercial benefits – notably revenue generation & cost reduction.

Pre-Covid-19 there were many arguments that ‘traditional’ Enterprise Architecture was dying out anyway – the TOGAF obsessed, ‘academic’ function was often criticised as not really delivering much. In fact, Solution Architecture (which is better aligned to the more popular product-centric technology functions, sits closer to Engineering teams and is able to upskill in the commercial ‘Enterprise’ thinking), was a more popular choice for CIO and CTOs.

Covid-19 has merely shone an uncomfortable light on an already vulnerable discipline.

In a world where every company is now a technology company – can you afford to stand still?

Will successful, market-leading companies like Tesla, Amazon or Netflix tread water during this crisis? Almost certainly not. Yes, they will be mindful of market conditions, but organisations like these are built on innovation and forward-thinking. Companies looking to their CIO or CTO to gain a competitive advantage in a world that will become even more technology obsessed, driven by social distancing & remote working, should consider Enterprise Architecture.

Bad technology decisions made now – a poor SaaS selection, incorrect vendor choice or improper due diligence of a new platform’s ability to integrate - will all end up spiralling costs for the long-term. Alternatively, the opportunity cost of not investing in a new technology, not knowing where new technology products will be funded from or not having a unified business and technology strategy will have you chasing the competition.

Enterprise Architecture allows companies to avoid these scenarios, both of which are fatal.

The current situation has highlighted to us that providing 'value' is everything. Provided that the Enterprise Architecture function achieves this, as an outcome & delivery-centric player, then, even in frugal times for investment & in the midst of a global pandemic, we’ll see that there is always a place for Enterprise Architecture.

For more information, get in touch with ryan.grant@lafosse.com and visit our Architecture capabilities.