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Philip Huysmans, Kris Ven and Jan Verelst

Designing for Innovation: Using Enterprise Ontology Theory to Improve Business IT Alignment

In today’s economy, innovation plays an increasingly important role in the strategy of organizations. Managers therefore need to understand and be able to manage the innovation process. The recent research efforts in the enterprise architecture domain are very relevant in this regard. Most of these frameworks acknowledge the importance of aligning the information technology (IT) infrastructure with the enterprise architecture. In this paper, we focus on a case of an organization that was able to realize substantial business innovation by aligning its IT architecture to its enterprise architecture. Notwithstanding the successful outcome of this enterprise architecture project, the approach taken by the organization strongly relied on the heuristic knowledge of employees, thereby limiting the repeatability and reproducibility of their approach. In addition, it remains unclear whether the modeling technique that was used will be able to provide the required level of evolvability in the future. It therefore seems useful to apply a systematic method to be able to recreate these results in other organizations. We therefore take a design science approach by repeating the enterprise architecture project using the Enterprise Ontology theory. Our results show that the model created by following the Enterprise Ontology theory was very similar to the model created by the organization, which is a desirable result. The main advantage of Enterprise Ontology is that it provides a more repeatable and reproducible result and that the resulting models are more evolvable.