Enterprise Architecture and its role in Strategy Execution within Large Nordic Enterprises

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School of Science | Master's thesis
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Companies often work with strategies to define their future long-term competitive plans, but strategies often leave open the question of how execute and implement them. Translating strategy into enterprise change is especially challenging in information-intensive industries where information technology and information systems are key elements that must be addressed in almost all strategic initiatives. A structured and holistic approach to this translation task is Enterprise Architecture (EA), which encompasses enterprise change from both human and technical domains. This thesis examines how EA can facilitate and benefit strategy execution in the information-intensive financial services industry. Through a systematic literature review and a case study at a Nordic financial services company this thesis found recommendations of how the case company can incorporate EA more closely with existing planning processes. The literature survey found, that most financial services companies that utilize EA today are in the early phases of adoption, and that EA maturity is on average relatively low in the industry. Typical challenges with incorporating EA involve creating a shared cognition about EA, gaining stakeholder and management buy-in for EA, and measuring the benefits and business value of EA. The challenges faced by EA initiatives at the case company strongly resemble those found in the literature survey. At the case company EA was often perceived as an IT-discipline, especially by business-side stakeholders, and enterprise architects were seen as high-level IT architects. Common findings for the case company and the financial services industry in general was also the strong influence that business functions tend to have over investment decisions. These findings mean that the EA functions often do not have the necessary buy-in and influence required to directly affect enterprise change as a holistic approach, but becomes mainly an IT practice. Despite these challenges the case company revealed one instance where EA was successful incorporated to facilitate simultaneous strategy and project portfolio planning. Besides this single instance, project portfolios were not found to be tightly coupled with strategies at the divisions studied at the case company. To improve the incorporation of the EA functions with the overall business, this thesis suggests that the case company (1) explicitly defines the role of EA in facilitating enterprise change planning, (2) internally promotes success stories of EA more actively, and (3) expands the use of EA as a systematic framework to connect project portfolios with strategies more closely.
Saikkonen, Heikki
Thesis advisor
Helenius, Mika
enterprise architecture, företagsarkitektur, strategy execution, verkställandet av strategi, financial services, finansföretag
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