An enterprise is a large, interconnected business that is made of individual units or departments. According to Gartner, some defining characteristics include:
- The overall business strategy arises from the individual units working together
- Employees think of themselves as belonging to a larger company than their unit
- The business is financially connected: underperformance in one unit affects the others
- Units share some resources (like software tools) between them
- There are rules and metrics that apply across the entire business
In other words, enterprise is a way of saying "a big company". Institutions like universities are often thought of as being enterprises, too.
Enterprise as anti-pattern
Enterprise standards are often far too complicated, over-engineered and built around the needs of technology vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle etc. rather than based around the needs of individual users.