Table of Contents
The dawn of technology was perceived as good news by business organizations, whose main objectives were reducing operational cost and increasing revenue. Enterprise architecture (EA) is the key to the adoption of technology. EA refers to a clearly delineated praxis by means of which organizations can perform enterprise evaluation, planning, projecting, and realization. In the process, they use a comprehensive approach and relevant techniques in order to execute strategic decisions. However, regardless of the often quoted benefits of enterprise architecture, several studies have strongly criticized its role in reducing costs. The majority of businesses employ cost efficiency as a strategy in eliminating competition. One of the parts of enterprise architecture that has attracted much criticism is the user experience. There is a tradeoff between the organization’s user experience and cost efficiency, with cost efficiency being the opportunity of not focusing on the user experience of enterprise architecture. This implies that if the user experience appears to hinder cost efficiency and overwhelm company resources, an organization is more likely to settle on cost efficiency at the expense of the user experience. Against the provided background, this paper argues that enterprise architecture aligned with the business objective of the organization does cater to the user experience.
Over the previous years, following the maturity of software development and systems engineering, it has been acknowledged that the architectural view of systems is essential. According to Sessions (2007), such essentiality has risen because of the increase in system and software complexity, and their interactions within and between organizations. In addition, the continued emphasis on decreasing the costs of implementing and maintaining information technology while delivering real and quantifiable business significance also requires clear-cut comprehension of how systems enable business strategy (Sessions, 2007). The ANSI/IEEE Standard 1471-2000 defined the architectural view of systems as the fundamental organization of the system, exemplified in its components, their association to one another and the environment, and the core principles governing system design and transformation (Sessions, 2007).
In consideration of how business organizations manage change and IT adoption, the customary approach to strategic business change utilizes the top-down-view of the business in relation to its people and process (Sessions, 2007). Nevertheless, the customary software and systems engineering methodologies appear to focus on the identification and delivery of a particular functionality needed in the automation of a task or activity. The way in which the resulting system will interact with other business systems, an organization, and even customers in the quest for delivering business benefits is usually of less significance (Sessions, 2007). As such, there is frequently a bridge between the business strategy, the user experience, and the systems implemented in supporting them.
A highly effective enterprise architecture constitutes a comprehensive view of an organization, including its vison, drivers, and strategy; the organization and services needed in the delivery of the vision and strategy; the information systems and technology required for the efficient delivery of services (Duri, Cole, Munson, & Christensen, 2001). The components and their inter-association should be viewed in relation to the services they offer, as well as the characteristics, such as scalability, security, performance, and integration, needed for the effective provision of services. According to Sessions (2007), the components of enterprise architecture can be classified based on their service characteristics and distribution. The diagram below summarizes the components of a highly effective enterprise architecture (Sessions, 2007).
Despite enterprise architectures being conceptually designed in a top-down manner, organizations may witness budget constraints for strategic technological efforts that do not readily present measurable organizational benefit (Sessions, 2007). As a result, several enterprise architectures are developed as components of large projects, which might restrict integration of fine-details and requirements. Budget constraints also limit the integration of effective user experience tools, such as graphical user interfaces (Sessions, 2007).
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User Experience (UX)
The concept of user experience appears to be not clearly definable even amongst the UX experts themselves. Perhaps the elusiveness inherent in the definition of user experience explains why enterprise architectures fail to cater to it (Markus & Tanis, 2000). It is difficult to implement something that has no shared understanding. Consequently, a UX expert in the implementation of enterprise architecture might come up with what he or she ‘thinks’, rather than what has been proven, will meet the needs of the user. Several studies, theories, and discussions have been conducted to research the conflicts concerning the formal definition of UX. Duri, Cole, Munson, & Christensen (2001) defined user experience as one’s perceptions and responses resulting from the use or expected use of a service, product, or a system. The limitation of this definition is that it still leaves room for varied interpretations among the UX experts themselves. The design of user experience is a fusion of both art and science with several rules based on user behaviors (McGovern, 2004). Essentially, the user experience is part of a larger business strategy that is aligned with enterprise architecture.
User experience provides benefits to an organization. The first benefit is customer satisfaction. Markus & Tanis (2000) argued that better experience could guarantee happier and returning customers. However, there is a possibility that when using enterprise architecture, user experience might not present this benefit to an organization. This is because enterprise architecture integrates business strategy, which is more likely to cater to the increased satisfaction among customers (Markus & Tanis, 2000). Consequently, user experience might duplicate certain roles inherent in the company’s business strategy, thus resulting in increased costs (Markus & Tanis, 2000). It appears useless to force both business strategy and user experience to focus on increased customer satisfaction. This explains why enterprise architecture does not cater to it, and leaves it to UX.
The second benefit of user experience is the increased sales. Markus & Tanis (2000) argued that happy customers were likely to share their experience with their families and/or friends. By sharing a good experience with an organization, customers assist in the building of a positive word of mouth, thereby marketing a company. In this scenario, one can see that user experience is again trying to accomplish certain business roles outlined in the company’s business strategy, which is integrated in its enterprise architecture (McGovern, 2004). Consequently, there is no need to for an organization to focus on enterprise architecture and user experience separately since they both can yield the same benefits. By focusing on the enterprise architecture’s holistic approach, a business can increase its sales and save on costs related to the implementation of user experience (McGovern, 2004).
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Marketing Divide Resulting from User Experience and EA
The failure of the enterprise architecture to cater to the user experience can also be comprehended by examining the marketing divide that bedevils most organizations (McGovern, 2004). In the corporate world, the conflicts between marketing and information technology teams are a well-recognized, though a rarely investigated, issue. Frequently, a marketing team or a corporate communication department of an organization has the vision for online or other technological initiatives, whereas a technology team is in control of their execution. The stereotypes of marketers versus IT experts are too simple to capture in this scenario (McGovern, 2004).
Undoubtedly, the conflict boils down to two divergent positions. On the one hand, marketers feel an information technology team does not comprehend the value of brand communication. According to McGovern (2004), an information technology team, in its turn, feels that marketers do not comprehend the architectural and practical implications of strategic technological decisions. In reality, this polarization inhibits enterprise architects from putting into practice all their expertise on decisions that affect user experience. As a result, Duri, Cole, Munson, & Christensen (2001) argued that a marketing team should always be coordinated to perform the role of policing the practical design of technology.
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Likewise, information technologists, in coordination with enterprise architects, make crucial decisions that are aligned to organizational strategies without the understanding of the user. According to Markus & Tanis (2000), the association between enterprise architects, information technologists, and marketers can offer an understanding of the user. The effectiveness and success of enterprise architecture relies significantly on these parties working in coordination, yet conflicts relating to their roles and business strategy frequently polarize them.
The absence of shared understanding between marketing experts, enterprise architects and technologists has also been one of the common significant barriers to the creation of effective user experience. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technological Officers (CTOs) tend to speak of platforms, enterprise architecture, scalability, integration, and extensibility, while marketing officers mostly focus on brand value and multi-channel marketing.
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This paper has argued that enterprise architecture aligned with the business objectives of the organization does not cater to the user experience. The three key elements discussed in the paper to prove the argument included the various components of enterprise architecture, the definition of user experience, and the marketing divide between technologists and marketers. In terms of enterprise architecture, the paper has argued that the budgetary constraints in the adoption of enterprise architecture compel technologists to focus not on user experience but on key functionalities and system services. The definition of the term user experience is not clear, and for this reason, it remains relative. The polarization between marketers and technologists limits the integration of user experience in enterprise architecture.