Enterprise architects, the economy is in your capable hands

Enterprise architects, the economy is in your capable hands

Summary: CEOs don't know enough about technology, so EAs are becoming the most important players in the emerging digital economy.

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Soon, all companies will be technology companies in one form or another. It's the only way to compete in a global, digital world. And there is but one breed of professional who can help with this journey: enterprise architects. 

That's the view of Thomas Lawton, visiting professor of business administration at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, who makes the case for enterprise architecture to advance today's businesses. And he's telling this to a wide audience -- readers of U.S. News.   

While IT is the best response to competitive pressures and a rocky economy, CEOs and business leaders are not particularly well equipped to deliver a strategic IT approach. They're too focused on "operational and strategic topics, such as managing cost drivers and finding new revenue sources," says Lawton. "Few CEOs really understand the implications of new, rapidly changing and complex IT systems and processes for the current business model or perceive a strategic potential and value in new technology implementation."

Enter the enterprise architect. These professionals know how to build the bridge between technology and business goals. As Lawton describes it:

"The role of enterprise architects is to act as partners to senior executives, understand what is on the CEO's agenda and how IT fits into it. [They] exploit IT efficiency, effectiveness and change potential and link it with strategic objectives and operational delivery."

As a result, there is growing interest in the process and practice of enterprise architecture, Lawton observes. Business leaders know IT is the future of their organizations. In fact, in many cases, IT is becoming the business. EAs are needed, desperately, to provide the guidance in this journey from widget-making to data and service provider. 

 

Topics: IT Priorities, CXO, Enterprise Software, NextGen CIO, Project Management

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5 comments
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  • Chief Mobility Officers on the rise

    The trend Joe has identified is undoubtedly true. Within IT in general, enterprises are recognizing the importance of mobility as evidenced by the rise in the number of Chief Mobility Officer roles in the marketplace. Those who fill this newly-established role will face the challenge of both mobilizing a product or service and achieving greater operational efficiency through the mobilization of the business applications used by a company's employees.
    Kelly Fee
  • EA is not IT

    Unfortunately, the author of the article effectively equates EA with IT, which in my opinion spells the death of EA. For instance, the central quote is "The role of enterprise architects is to act as partners to senior executives, understand what is on the CEO's agenda and how IT fits into it. [They] exploit IT efficiency, effectiveness and change potential and link it with strategic objectives and operational delivery." So the author, in my view, has done a serious disservice to EA by identifying it so closely with IT, and to such a broad and non-technical audience at that.

    I define an enterprise's architecture as the structure of its data + the structure of its processes + the interactions between the two, informed by the enterprise's goals and objectives. I define the EA's job as creating (for start-ups only), documenting, rationalizing, optimizing, educating about, evangelizing about, and consulting about that architecture. The EA should also have authority and responsibility for architectural oversight of all creation of, and changes to, the enterprise's data and processes -- the "bones" of its architecture -- to ensure that those data and processes stay consistent with the enterprise's architecture, or that the architecture is adapted to accommodate them. (However, the EA should not have direct responsibility for those creations and changes; that's for solution architects.)

    Note that none of the above is specific to IT.
    XTRAN_guru
    • EA is not IT (I agree)

      I couldn't agree more with your definition, the main role of an Enterprise Architect, is exactly that, to build the functional structure (along with its operation processes) that allows an organization to reach its goals. Yes, IT may be part of the equation, but definitely is more than that.

      I have tried to explain what EA should be through a very informal animation on YT channel: http://youtu.be/yoxhkZ9LaO4
      Herberius
  • Soon, all companies will be technology companies, don't think so

    We all know that the Cloud takes away the IT technology from the enterprise.
    What the enterprise sees is a business service independent how and what technology delivers it.
    Since the outsourcing to IT tends to be handled by business rather than IT people the role of the IT department in the enterprise will be diminishing.
    Hence, I would say the opposite, that the trend is for companies to become less technological than they are today.
    That only means that the EA role has to become, as it should, business and Cloud integration focused.
    TheGrigoriu
    • Completely Flase

      "We all know the Cloud takes away the IT technology from the enterprise". This is a completely fals premise. The cloud is a platform for deploying technology. A tool an organization can use manage capacity and scalability, among other things. The core need for IT excellence is still there. In many ways it's even greater because, while it can lead to tremendous benefits, the cloud introduces new challenges as well (e.g. Managing data exchanges between cloud and non-cloud based applications). Don't equate cloud adoption for the complete outsourcing of all IT know how. No company with a mind towards long term success would consider such a course of action.
      Jimmy McSchnabaldorf