Enterprise architecture (EA) has gained increasing dominance in organisations as a strategic enabler to manage complexity. However, most organisations are still finding it challenging to materialise the full benefits of EA. Instead, literature reported that most organisations either failed to institutionalise EA or have caused additional complexities due to architecture decisions being disconnected from the broader strategic context. This highlights a need for investigating the root causes of the key challenges and finding ways to improve EA decision-making at the strategic level. In response, this thesis proposes a shift in focus for strategic EA decision-making. It provides a review of literatures, and a qualitative analysis of the points of view of key EA decision-makers and business executives.
The findings were collected from the two of the largest South African retail banks. In-depth interviews were conducted with the key EA decision-makers and the business executives with whom they usually work. Insights were drawn to compare the views on strategic EA decision-making, forming the viewpoints and value propositions of EA service providers and EA customers respectively. This thesis takes the view that the customers, experiences and value co-creation should be the fundamental focus of strategic EA decision-making.
This thesis starts by establishing the strategic role of EA in a typical organisational context. It enables organisations to be highly flexible with reduced level of complexity. However, the current EA institutionalisation is still littered with challenges. The thesis then presents service-dominant (S-D) logic as an alternative lens to examine the current business-EA relationship in strategic EA decision-making. Challenges in the current business-EA relationship are then examined to understand the various points of view and specific aspects that caused the disconnect between business and EA. This thesis analyses each specific aspect and establishes that they are largely ineffective and are grounded in goods-dominant (G-D) logic. Finally, based on the adapted premises of S-D logic, this thesis develops an initial conceptual framework that provides a set of guiding principles to address the business-EA disconnect in EA decision-making.