December 13, 2007

Wanted Enterprise Architect!

A friend at work sent me an interesting article from Business Intelligence Review ( 13 December 2007 about someone who recently went to the Gartner EA Summit in Las Vegas and what he learnt about enterprise architects.

He writes that “If you set out to write the most outlandish job description in corporate America, your classified ad might read something like this:

Wanted: Person or persons to chart IT and business transformation in a huge, old established corporation. Candidate(s) will model current and future states of business drivers, regulation and market dynamics along with the functional role structure of all business units and sub-units. Candidate must understand and relate technology projects and project portfolio, integration programs, application and information systems, business processes (and everything else we own) to business optimization for future planned market dominance. Salary TBD.”

Later the author recounts how “one vendor described, the perfect EA might be ‘half cowboy VP with clout, half academic.’ It’s a situational role.”

He goes to say that while “most demonstrations I saw represented the incipient need for EA more than its result. You could say that EA is in part providing some insurance against future risk and some assurance that investments will make more sense going forward …You can’t help but salute these individuals, their visionary companies and the work they are doing.”

From my perspective, I don’t know about the cowboy VP with clout piece, but what I do know is that EA is not a job for the faint of heart.

An enterprise architect must understand and be able to straddle both the business and technical sides of the house. EA’s have responsibility for architecture perspectives that range from performance, business, information, systems, technology, and security. They must understand not only the mission and business functions and processes and desired results of operation, but also how that translates into information requirements and various technology solutions. Further, EA’s need to be able to translate the business requirements to the techies. Simultaneously, EA’s must be knowledgeable in a broad swath of technology areas (such as systems, technologies, standards, IT security, information sharing techniques, IT best practices, IT governance, IT planning, service oriented architecture, modeling, and so on). Enterprise architects must be able to not only know the current technologies, but also have an eye out toward the emerging. EA’s must be able to explain technical jargon in simple, easy-to-understand language to business executives and program offices. EA’s develop the current and planned state of the enterprise and a path for getting from one to the other.

EA’s need to work across the entire organization, as well as up and down the hierarchy—from being expert in enterprise architecture, to also being highly knowledgeable in line of business segment architectures and developers’ solutions architecture. EA have to develop and maintain catalogues of information; business, data, and systems models, and high-level visual profiles that can “paint a picture” for executives in 5 seconds or less. EA must not only develop and maintain these information assets, but they must be able to analyze them and come up with meaningful, actionable findings and recommendations (like gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and opportunities) for executive management. EA’s should be experts in organizational culture and change management/tranformation. EA needs to be able to articulate its vision for the organization and to present regularly to staff, management, and executives. EA’s provide not only information products to the enterprise, but also governance services in terms of technical reviews of new IT projects, products, and standards. EA’s deal with internal subject matter experts and stakeholders and also external private and public sector entities that provide best practices, legal requirements, and other mandates.

EA is a challenging, invaluable, and awesome field to work in!


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