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SA sees EA as 'nice-to-have'

SA has a vibrant enterprise architecture community that actively participates in many global collaboration projects, says Ovations' Peter Robb.

In SA, enterprise architecture (EA) is still viewed as a 'nice-to-have' capability that only a small cross-section of an organisation can deploy.

This is the view of business transformation solutions provider, Ovations, which notes that the country's EA sector is comparable to the rest of the world in terms of skills and exposure.

Chris Kleb, principal consultant at Ovations, says the major difference between the South African market and developed markets is that of policy requiring multinational organisations to enforce EA as a compliance mechanism, while locally, organisations see it only as a 'nice-to-have' capability.

According to Ovations, the global EA market is undergoing a consolidation phase resulting in many mergers and acquisitions, as the market emerges from the economic downturn.

It adds that markets are beginning to stabilise and strategic focus is shifting from cost cutting to renovation.

Kleb points out that corporates and industries are beginning to aggressively rationalise their IT spend and assets, so as to get rid of unnecessary overhead.

On the other hand, Peter Robb, practice lead for architecture at Ovations, says SA has a vibrant enterprise architecture community that actively participates in many of the global collaboration projects.

“This bodes extremely well for the country's future aspirations to stake its claim in architecture circles. The King III Report on corporate governance is also driving an increased awareness on standards like Cobit and ITIL,” says Robb.

“Less mature organisations in SA are often entering enterprise architecture discussions through these initiatives. Organisations attempting to take a more holistic approach to enterprise architecture are starting to adopt EA frameworks, one of which is TOGAF [The Open Group Architecture Framework],” he adds.

Describing the EA challenges local organisations are facing, Kleb points to the “old problem of a disconnect that exists between business and IT.

“The legacy this has built over the past decade equates to overspend on resourcing, tooling and mobilisation – all symptoms of organisational verticals not having access to or leveraging off commoditised services within the organisation.

“This results in the purchase of additional assets, which duplicate existing capability within the organisation to serve their immediate need. This leads to the old adage where architecture may be seen to be counter-productive, but in fact is protecting the business against itself, ensuring it does not engage in initiatives that it is not capable of producing.”

Meanwhile, Robb says a challenge facing the market is that of the 'brain-drain' and recent staff movements, especially within the financial sector.

He adds that human capital is vital to any organisation. “These are the individuals who understand the inner-workings of their respective companies and industries. When they leave, they take large chunks of intellectual capital with them, requiring large reinvestments in skills and staff.”

Robb believes this makes the practice of EA more challenging when the holders of such strategic knowledge leave, taking with them years' of tacit knowledge that has to be relearnt by their replacements.

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