User-Centric Enterprise Architecture: Enterprise Architecture Design

By Andy Blumenthal

User-Centric Enterprise Architecture: Enterprise Architecture Design.

User-centric Enterprise Architecture provides information to decision-makers using design thinking, so as to make the information easy to understand and apply to planning and investment decisions.

Some examples of how we do this:

  1. Simplifying complex information by speaking the language of the business (and not all techie).
  2. Unifying disparate information to give a holistic view that breaks the traditional vertical (or functional) views and instead looks horizontally across the organization to foster enterprise solutions where we build once and reuse multiple times.
  3. Visualizing information to condense lots of information and tell a story—as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  4. Segmenting end-users and tailoring EA information products to the different user groups which we do with profiles geared to executive decision makers, models for mid-level managers, and inventories for the analysts.

Interestingly enough, in the summer issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, there is an article called “How to Become a Better Manager…By thinking Like a Designer.”

Here are some design pointers from the experts that you can use to aid your enterprise architectures (they are written to parallel the principles from User-centric EA, as I have previously described above):

  1. Embrace simplicity—“people often confuse simplicity…with simplistic….it takes courage to be simple…and the simplest solution is often the best.”
  2. Look for patterns in the data—“good problem solvers become proficient at identifying patterns.” Further, designers seek “harmony to bring together hierarchy, balance, contrast, and clear space in a meaningful way.”
  3. Apply visual thinking—often managers…rely heavily on data and information to tell the story and miss the opportunity to create context and meaning,” instead managers need to “think of themselves as designers, visual thinkers or storytellers.”
  4. Presenting clearly to specific end-users—“good design is about seeing and communicating clearly.” Moreover, it’s about “seeing things from the clients point of view…designers learn pretty quickly that is not about Me, it’s about You.”

MIT Sloan states “we have come to realize over the past few years that design-focused organizations do better financially than their less design-conscious competitors…design is crafting communications to answer audience needs in the most effective way.

This is a fundamental lesson: organizations that apply the User-centric Enterprise Architecture design approach will see superior results than legacy EA development efforts that built “artifacts” made up primarily of esoteric eye charts that users could not readily understand and apply.

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