An architect’s role is generally considered to be a key factor in reducing costs, improving quality, supporting timely delivery against schedule, supporting delivery against requirements, as well as reducing risk in a project. We discuss these objectives in this section by highlighting specific benefits. It is up to IT to put the enterprise on a digital architecture or risk transformation stalling. Technology is the fuel that innovates business, but architecture is the chassis. The layers of data and application architectures in modern digital architecture ¬†differ fundamentally from those in traditional IT enterprise architecture, not just due to the technologies, such as cloud hosting and ISMAC. Developing a digital architecture requires agility, responsiveness, and scalability. The cost of legacy systems is reduced and complexity is reduced. Furthermore, it enables rapid deployment of innovative, customer-centric services.

A comparison of traditional and modern IT architectures

For digital business transformation to succeed, IT organizations must master and implement digital architecture. In this free Hackett Group report, you can find out more about the other four.

The digital architecture stack follows the same structure as traditional architecture in that it supports the entire business value chain – employees, partners, customers, suppliers. A relatively new layer of business architecture is experience architecture, which allows for precise customer targeting, personalization, and engagement. Customer experience is delivered by combining application and data architectures. Core infrastructure underpins it all.

The layers of a modern digital architecture

Managing digital architecture with mixed ownership is a challenge for IT leaders. It is the executive team’s responsibility to have a business architecture and a customer experience architecture, while the customer-facing business functions are responsible for experience architectures. It is more common for IT to be responsible for the bottom two layers of the system. Integrating all of these layers harmoniously is the challenge, and it is up to IT to ensure this happens through management and governance.

It is not feasible for most companies to build a digital architecture stack at once due to resource constraints. Migrations or replacements of legacy systems and application and data rationalization are instead used to introduce elements gradually. Rather than building their own digital architecture, companies can “buy” it during platform migration. An example of a public cloud-hosting vendor is a company that offers cloud-based hosting services for digital applications and data. In addition to digital architecture components, traditional system vendors also offer digital architecture components. An important element of Oracle’s experience architecture layer is device-agnostic mobile-access capabilities for customers.

Essentially, modern digital architecture must have the following seven features:

  1. Standards, documentation reviews, and compliance tracking should be improved in order to improve architecture discipline and maturity.
  2. Implement a formal master data management and data stewardship process to improve the quality of your data.
  3. Minimize the impact of data storage complexity on applications by virtualizing data.
  4. Utilize orchestrated processes and microservices from libraries and catalogues to develop applications faster and more responsively.
  5. Enhance agility by adopting cloud-based platforms, services, and data.
  6. Implement omnichannel, personalized engagement solutions by leveraging “experience architecture”.
  7. Integrate components obtained from cloud-hosting vendors and application vendors into the architecture.