Designing the digital enterprise

What do we know?

You wouldn’t construct a new building without an architect. Even greater expertise may be required to retrofit the building, as regulations and practices change over time. Enterprises, like buildings, require a strategic design incorporating the interaction of people and infrastructure. Modifying an enterprise likewise brings the challenge of connecting new processes and IT with legacy systems – and digital typically augments both value and risks.

In order to explore opportunities and issues around architecting an enterprise, Henley Business School has teamed up with McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s most prestigious strategy consultancies, to produce the enterprise architecture (EA) survey. The online survey targets CIOs, EA heads and business leaders, and to-date has received over 100 responses. Here we share some highlights and reveal how the Strategy & Enterprise Architecture (SEA) programme addresses the challenges.

The EA survey found that few organisations can ignore the role of digital in designing their business. Over 60% of surveyed organisations see digital technologies as highly disruptive and a similar number believe new digital business models have a major impact. Most companies surveyed view EA as key to digital transformation and a core enabler to reduce IT complexity and cost.

How can EA help?

Full integration with digital is difficult, hence companies may buy time by creating new point-to-point connections, further applications and more interfaces. The EA survey found this adds future complexity and integration costs. The impact is serious – even average integration costs were 40% of application spend. Additionally, the resulting complexity has a knock-on effect on the agility of the enterprise, which is vital for dealing with digital disruption. EA can help decide the right trade-offs through early intervention. Unfortunately, in more than 40% of the surveyed organisations, business stakeholders are unaware of what EA can do for them.

How do we address this gap?

Henley was asked by EuroCIO, a membership organisation of CIOs across Europe, to create the SEA programme with partners in Germany (Technical University of Munich) and the Netherlands (TIAS School for Business and Society). In the programme, Henley’s module in Strategy and Business Design is followed by Enterprise Architecture at TUM and Governance in TIAS.

Let’s leave the participants to describe the benefits of the programme.

"It’s easy to adopt in my own organisation. A lot of models and best practices I can use immediately."

"Very open-minded, international learning atmosphere."

"As a non-mature organisation on strategy, it can help me to build a story and communicate about it."

"The blend of theory and practice [and] having such great speakers was fantastic."

"Mix of themes that are currently relevant but that will be much more so in the future."

"Great programme, great chance for an exchange with others and chance to reflect things you are doing."

An important finding of the EA survey is that effective engagement of architects leads to improved projects. SEA participant feedback is that their stakeholder engagement has increased as a result of the programme.

The target SEA participant is anyone who works or has aspirations to work to strategically align IT and business. If SEA had been available during my own European CIO tenure at Electrolux and Diageo, I would certainly have enrolled my senior and high potential people.

The McKinsey and Henley EA survey is available at

Find out more about the Strategy & Enterprise Architecture programme.

Sharm Manwani, Director of Strategy & Enterprise Architecture Programme


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