There is still no definite answer within the architecture community about the use of the terms Business Architecture and Enterprise Architecture. Is this the same? Is it one part of the other? Unfortunately, there is still no common statement in the world of architecture. Everyone has his or her own idea, same as what you see happening with the term ‘Agile Architecture’. This is difficult because the architecture tool can be quite useful when setting up more complex companies. So it seems useful to simply make a practical agreement about the distinction ‘Business’ versus ‘Enterprise’.
Architecture used in decision-making
The use of architecture is on the rise to map out the complexity of companies and to be able to make sound decisions about the organization of the company. Very often nowadays reference is made to business models. Consider, for example, the popular term “the business model canvas”. However, these models are often not architectures, but rather visual layouts of topics that need to be addressed in order to set up a business. After all, a business model canvas is not about the organization of the company, but more about determining its products, customers, added value, revenue models, costs, and so on. Very important topics, but not architecture.
Business architecture to define business domains
What a business architecture ultimately embraces is also a subject of debate within the world of architecture. I like to use a definition that is mainly about defining business domains. These are areas for which undivided and coherent responsibility can be taken. A business domain includes business objects and business functions. Business domains are designed in such a way that an optimal business process is possible to deliver the added value of the company – possibly across those business domains.
Business versus Enterprise
Thus, ‘Enterprise’ in most cases refers to the scope of the architecture, while ‘Business’ refers to the aspect (or domain) described in the architecture. For IT architectures, we have known aspects/domains such as logical data models, functional, information, application, technical, infrastructure, and so on for much longer. If we continue the line of thought along that line, then we can refer to ‘business’ as a domain or aspect of architecture.