How market ecosystems demand outside-in enterprise architecture

Chris Potts
26 January 2015

Markets are the ecosystems in which enterprises thrive, survive, and periodically die. A successful enterprise understands its value in the context of the wider environment, and can constantly redesign itself as the ecosystem evolves.

Understanding context when designing or re‐designing a structure is one of the fundamental capabilities of any architect. Whether their medium is buildings, landscapes, ships or enterprises, the value of an architect is in the relationship between each structure they design and the wider systems in which that structure exists.

For many enterprise architects, especially those who are employees of the enterprise, it is a significant challenge to understand how the entity appears and performs from the perspective of the market. They are used to working ‘inside‐out’. Analogously, it’s like trying to appreciate and re‐design how a building appears from across the road while sitting in one of its rooms. This inside‐out perspective risks designing an enterprise that is a projection of its internal structure, creating an incoherent and low‐value entity from an outsider’s perspective.

In the era of market consumerisation, and ‘cloud‐based’ delivery models, the ability of enterprise architects to work ‘outside‐in’ is now vital. What does this mean in practice, for enterprise architects themselves and for the people they work with and influence? Can they rely on the same motivations, mindsets and models that have underpinned their work in the past? How much do enterprise architects need to invest in redesigning their own value proposition and practices, to survive and thrive in an ‘outside‐in world’?

Chris is a mentor in strategies for enterprise investment, working with executives, enterprise architects and project portfolio managers. He is also an entertaining and provocative speaker, as well as the author of the world’s only trilogy of business novels – the FruITion Trilogy. Chris works with people all around the wold, in diverse cultures, industries and enterprises. Find out more at