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Assisting the Digital Transformation

How SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer Supports IT Decision Making

by Juergen Jakowski | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 2

April 26, 2016

When exploring new solutions for your IT environment, there are plenty of resources that can help you sift through different technology options. But when trying to develop a strategy — or build a business case for that strategy — there aren’t nearly as many options out there. IT professionals often have to cobble together justifications from a variety of sources. For that reason, SAP launched SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer, which makes it possible to evaluate strategies at a high level and choose the approach that works best for your organization. Discover how SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer can enable you to plan for and justify IT solutions in the broader context of your company’s needs and resources.

Any investment, whether it’s about user experience (UX), landscape optimization, or adopting a new solution, must be justified. IT decision makers and enterprise architects need to prove that a given project can satisfy business cases, relate to business needs, and address the right concerns. It’s easy for them to find descriptions about products, applications, and technology functions, but information that helps justify the importance of an IT improvement project to management is much harder to find.

IT decision makers need an information hub that provides useful, educational information that helps them find the most suitable improvement options and explains why these options are of value. SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer is an online self-service resource that helps these practitioners understand terms and concepts of trending IT focus areas, such as UX and Internet of Things (IoT), as well as methods and strategies to leverage these trends for the benefit of the business.

A Proven Concept with SAP UX Explorer

Even the most complex environment can be made transparent if placed into some kind of structure. We followed this conviction by launching the SAP UX Explorer in 2013, with the idea to shine some much-needed light on different technologies, technical functions, and concepts in the context of UX. We put them into a database as topics, such as SAP Fiori or user interface (UI) guidelines, that could be related to each other using the concept of semantic networks, combining this with a strict presentation structure. Over time, the content was enriched with a strategic dimension that, among other things, can help companies create an enterprise UX strategy by easily understanding topics, their technical facts, and how they relate to each other. More than 90,000 individual users in more than 160 countries have reaped the rewards of using the SAP UX Explorer.

This success led to a demand to process other essential IT focus areas outside of UX — such as landscape architecture or IoT — in the same way, which is why in March 2016 we launched SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer.

Beyond Products and Functions: Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is a software-agnostic approach to modeling the entire enterprise, from the top of the business and its strategy down to IT and its landscape. It makes it possible to evaluate options at a higher level, without being influenced by the capabilities of an individual product. Enterprise architecture is underpinned by sound architectural principles and valuable methodologies for structuring content. 

SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer (see Figure 1) uses some of these methods to help you overcome complexity. Instead of focusing on a given product or function, an IT practitioner can focus on a concept. For example, a customer whose concern is to improve UX for power users might have several transition paths that lead to a target that involves adaptations of existing screens with a certain tool, such as SAP Screen Personas, or another that leads to the replacement of existing UIs with new solutions such as SAP Fiori applications. Figure 2 illustrates the creation of customer concern-based information that is modeled from the concern across the various architecture viewpoints1 down to the connected products and functions.

Figure 1 — Several ways to start exploring with SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer


Figure 2 — A customer concern-based approach


A Central Information Hub for IT Focus Areas and Architecture

SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer serves as a complement to other SAP online sources, such as the SAP Innovation Discovery and SAP Solution Explorer self-services or sap.com. Many of these sources are product-centric and, of course, are still very valuable if this is the focus of your exploration.

SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer is not intended to cover all SAP products and solutions. Instead, its main drive is to follow the most crucial IT focus areas on the customer side, such as UX or landscape architecture. Another important example is IoT, which we recently started incorporating into our semantic network.

The goal is not to cover the entire SAP portfolio or indeed any other IT scenario. Instead, what we want to achieve is to enable customers to identify their options and to learn from the methodologies that we describe and use ourselves. The semantic core of SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer allows users to explore content originating from every direction and interest.

The Future of SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer

The focus in 2016 is on creating more content that satisfies the needs of IT decision makers and enterprise architects. We will also seek to further enhance our tools to provide even greater ease for users when exploring the continually increasing amount of information. After that, we plan to concentrate on concern-based content creation and significantly more architecture viewpoints, architecture patterns, methods, strategies, and transition paths. Another major priority will be to distribute architecture reference models through SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer.

For more information on how you can take advantage of SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer, visit http://sap.com/eaexplorer.

1 For more information, see bit.ly/SAPEAExplorer. [back]

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Juergen Jakowski
Juergen Jakowski

Juergen Jakowski (juergen.jakowski@sap.com) has been leading the Explorer project since 2012. Before this, he held various positions in user experience and user interface technologies. Juergen currently focuses on how to build enterprise UX strategies with the help of Enterprise Architecture. He joined SAP in 1998 as a technical consultant.




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