Enterprise Architecture Definitions

Definitions of Enterprise Architecture

Gartner Definition of Enterprise Architecture

“The process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key requirements, principles and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution. The scope of the EA includes not only business processes, but also the people, information and technology of the enterprise, and their relationships to one another and to the external environment.”

Ovum Group Definition

“Being able to provide the right information at the right time to the right people so that they can make the right decision.”

Tom Graves’ Definition

“Enterprise architecture is a business-capability that manages a body of knowledge about enterprise structure and purpose”

This definition comes from an excellent article discussion “What is NOT enterprise architecture“:

  • If it doesn’t manage an explicit body of knowledge used in organisation-wide decision-support, it’s probably not enterprise architecture
  • EA is a decision-support system, not a decision system. Decisions are the role of strategy
  • If it doesn’t provide executive-level advice, it’s probably not enterprise architecture
  • A scope any less than the whole enterprise it’s domain-architecture. (e.g. business-architecture, applications architecture, technology architecture)
  • If it doesn’t deal with the intersection of structure and purpose, it’s probably not enterprise architecture

The Open Group Enterprise Architecture Framework (TOGAF)

This TOGAF definition is of architecture and so is again not strictly a definition of enterprise architecture. Also there is a general consensus that TOGAF uses the notion of enterprise architecture as enterprise wide IT architecture (EWITA) rather than Architecture of the Whole Enterprise (AWE) “Formal description of a system, or a detailed plan of the system at component level to guide its implementation”, or as “the structure of components, their interrelationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time.”

MIT Center for Information Systems Research

“The organizing logic for business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting the integration and standardization requirements of the firm’s operating model.”


“A conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organization. The intent of an enterprise architecture is to determine how an organization can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives.”

See also:

  • Robert McIlree’s pages of enterprise architecture definitions (http://enterprisearchitect.typepad.com/ea/2012/03/the-enterprise-architecture-definition-collection-part-iii.html)

Twitter length definitions from the LinkedIn EA group

Nick Malik • EA applies rigorous engineering methods to the task of shaping business relationships and planned investments to meet enterprise goals

Trishit Baran Sengupta • EA facilitates:

  1. Crafting business strategies and transforming the same into successfully managed and implemented outcomes
  2. Managing complexity and change

Kevin Mark • Translate vision and strategy into effective organizational change (ed. Gartner’esque!)

John Wu • EA was initiated to overcome stovepipe systems in business processes, application system, data and technology solutions where EA is the means not the end. The ultimate goal is to close the gap between strategy and execution. The unique value of EA is to facilitate enterprise collaboration.

Scott Nelson • EA bridges gaps (such as terminology, viewpoints, and priorities) … to increase the value of the Enterprise as a whole.

Charles Yokley • EA is the structured, logically consistent expression of information that flows among and integrates the processes of change management.

Zenny Sadlon • An EA is the explicit description and documentation of the current and desired relationships among business and management processes and information technology.

Steve Nimmons FBCS CITP CEng • The purpose of Enterprise Architecture is to enable informed decision making, balance the imperative and aspirational, and formalise the design and governance of holistic Information Systems.

Pallab Saha • Enterprise architecture provides the capability to tackle complexity and advance organizational coherence.

Adam Goode • All so serious – Enterprise Architecture is that magical fairy dust that enables business goals to be delivered at the lowest possible cost without complaint.:)

Wayne Schmidt • Enterprise Architecture is a way that can assist people to define, enable, govern and adapt business in response and in support of client need. It’s hallmarks are simplicity, adapability, and minimalism of control to achieve the practitioners goals placed before it.

Hans Nelsen • Provide vision and evidence for the business to make a sober decisions around the tradeoffs between development efficiency & quality, TCO and user experience. Control failure through prototyping, in order to provide evidence and develop vision.

Wayne Heller • EA provides insight into what the business does and how it does it now; faciliates the process of defining and aligning strategic intent with specific changes initiatives for the sole purpose of sustainably and wholistically improving the business

Dave Mao • EA helps complex organizations figure out the best way to spend their limited resources to maximize long-term enterprise-wide benefit. Booyah!

Zafir Yousaf • EA helps organisations maximise business assets by applying governance principles to build the right capability and clear business outcomes whilst ensuring organisations can easily adapt to customers needs.

Tom Zorde • EA supports evidence based decision making for strategy and planning improving company agility.

Sean Megley • the purpose of enterprise architecture is to unleash innovation in the organization while avoiding random acts of technology and senseless acts of governance.

Hugh Madden • EA is the practice of optimising the returns of organisational change investments over a target set of time horizons and business operating models.

Ralph Hitz • To boldly go where no man has gone before – cementing the enterprise foundation and enabling agility on the edges – while having lots of fun

Adam Hintz • Enterprise Architecture is the alignment of all points of information in an organization into a visually represented, coherent model.

Mark Delbridge • EA provides access to information to enable services to be delivered.







Definitions of Architecture (Generally)

A BPM Institute definition of enterprise architecture

“an architecture represents one element linked to other elements to form, collectively, a structure” – BPM Institute

ANSI/IEEE Standard 1471-2000 specification of architecture

Not strictly a definition of enterprise architecture and this specification refers to the architecture of software-intensive systems. It is included as the TOGAF definitions are based on this one. “The fundamental organization of a system, embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and the environment, and the principles governing its design and evolution.”

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Enterprise Architect