An Analysis of a Wikipedia Article on Enterprise Architecture

26 Sep

For this assignment, I created a Wikipedia account and home page  and I selected a Wikipedia article to analyze on the term Enterprise Architecture.    I have conducted extensive research over the last several years on Enterprise Architecture given my role as an information coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; And given our agency’s desire to transform and upgrade our information systems in tandem with a transformational re-designed operating strategy.  My chief desire in this research was to inform the agencies thinking and planning, as I believed that enterprise concepts and strategies were missing in the previous development of our information systems.   I elected to evaluate this term because I thought it would prove challenging for the Wikipeida collaborative model.  Enterprise Architecture is a term that has evolved only recently and is not widely understood, or agreed upon, even in the technology field.

Overall, in spite of several problems described below, I found the article to be very comprehensive.  Wikipedia’s format for articles encourages that definitions contain various sub-headings that provide a variety of contexts for the term in question.  The Enterprise Architecture article had headings for Definition, Scope, How to Develop an Enterprise Architecture (EA) (Definition, Using an Enterprise Architecture, Benefits of EA, The growing use of EA, and Relationship to other Disciplines.   However, I did detect several shortcomings that made the article unnecessarily confusing.  The problem I observed was that that the actual term was defined in three slightly different ways in the first several paragraphs.  The first paragraph has no heading but begins with the phrase ‘Enterprise Architecture is…’  The next block has a bold heading “Definition”, if you were reading the article top to bottom the definition was already covered.  The ‘Definition’ block actually contains two more definitions that also begin with the phrase ‘Enterprise Architecture is….’  Although the descriptions are similar they are not entirely consistent.  Additionally, the article appears confused whether “Enterprise Architecture is a verb or a noun, as it is sometimes described as a process.

The only important aspect of the definition that I thought was missing was an emphasis that the critical first step of designing Enterprise Architecture is choosing your business operating model, then aligning this model with your Enterprise Architecture, and by extension your organizing logic for your IT systems.    The Book Enterprise Architecture as Strategy by Jeanne W. Ross and Peter Weill from MIT Sloan (Peter Weill is cited in the article), spends the first several chapters establishing that fundamental link before moving on to more complex aspects of EA.

There are numerous citations that are used to flesh-out the various aspects of EA.   The citations of MIT Sloan are excellent as they have numerous publications on the topics.   Gartner and PEAF, who have international credibility in the technology consulting space, with PEAF actually specializing in Enterprise Architecture, are also prominent well respected sources.  I would rate the citations as very solid.  However, one problem with referencing I noted is that the article references a key term ‘Business Architecture’ in relation to Enterprise Architecture without defining it, or providing a link to define it, which is a weakness in the piece.

The article adhered to the neutrality perspective that Wikipedia demands of its articles.   Other than the opening paragraphs that struggled a bit with the definition I found the writers did a good job in delivering a basic understanding of a complex concept that could be comprehended by someone not immersed in technology or business operations strategy terminology.  Yet the article provided significantly more detail for those who had a deeper background, who would be more likely to be searching for a very a term used by a narrow segment of the population.   The one exception to is in the heading “Developing an Enterprise Level Architectural Description” where there is a fragmented sentence all in caps that does not flow with the sentence.   It is possible this is a malicious entry.

From a formatting and illustrative perspective, the article made very good use of a graphical depiction that visually demonstrated how Enterprise Architecture inter-relates directly with business segments and specific business processes within the enterprise, usually through a set of technology solutions.  The article is well constructed.

Overall, though there were several areas that I noted could be improved upon, Wikipedia’s article exceeded my expectations in providing a relevant definition for an important, yet narrowly used term.

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