2012 outlook for enterprise architecture

More stress, more cloud, less IT: six key trends shaping the enterprise architect's job in the months ahead, as predicted by The Open Group.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

Just a few years ago, most organizations did not have enterprise architects. Now, they have become the bridge between the business and IT worlds. And there never has been a time when there has been a greater need to bring these two worlds together.

Here is another 2012 prediction list, but this one is worth a look by anyone involved in enterprise architecture and SOA, since it was issued by The Open Group, the leading professional body for enterprise architects:

Growing stress within the EA community: This is the result of both "the demands being placed on it and the diversity of opinions within it increase," according to Leonard Fehskens, VP of skills and capabilities for The Open Group. "While this stress is not likely to fracture the community, it is going to make it much more difficult for both enterprise architects and the communities they serve to make sense of EA in general, and its value proposition in particular." Much of this stress arises from the continuing challenges for EAs to see problems and solutions as part of the "business" at large, versus something more IT-centric. Fehskens also sees the mantra of “enterprise transformation” as "a dangerous strategy that risks promising even more when far too many EA efforts have been unable to deliver on the promises they have already made."

A more defined career path for enterprise architects will evolve: "Today, there is no clear career path for the enterprise architect. I’ve heard this from college students, IT and business professionals and current EAs," says Steve Nunn, COO of The Open Group and CEO of the Association of Enterprise Architects. "Up until now, the skills necessary to succeed and the roles within an organization that an EA can and should fill have not been defined. It’s imperative that we determine the skill sets EAs need and the path for EAs to acquire these skills in a linear progression throughout their career. Expect this topic to become top priority in 2012."

Continued growth in EA certification: Both Fehskens and Nunn report progress in the area of EA certification, which will continue to grow  in the year ahead, as EAs seek ways to differentiate themselves within the industry and to employers. "This growth will also be supported by EA certification adoption in emerging markets like India and China, as those countries continue to explore ways to build value and quality for current and perspective clients, and to establish more international credibility," says Nunn.

Greater involvement from the business in enterprise architecture: "Business executive involvement will be especially helpful when outsourcing IT processes, such as cloud computing," Nunn says. "Expect to see greater interest from executives and business schools that will implement coursework and training to reflect this shift, as well as increased discussion on the value of business architecture."

Five key technologies from cloud to social to resurgent ERP will dominate EA agendas: Kevin Daley of IBM and vice-chair of The Open Group Business Forum says EAs need to understand the implications of cloud, consumer IT, the Internet of Things, Big Data, and the ERP resurgence. "Cloud will help increase the speed of development and change. The business architect will be called upon to ensure the strategic relevancy of transformation in a repeatable fashion as cycle times and rollouts happen faster." As for consumer IT trends such as social networking and mobile computing, "the business architect will help develop new strategies as organizations strive for new markets and broader demographic reach."

Less reliance on core IT services: This will bring an increased expectation of “I’ll buy the services, you show me know to knit them in” as the prevalent user approach to IT," observes Dave Lounsbury, CTO. This will require "increased attention to use of standards conformance." IT departments will change from being "the only service providers within organizations to being a guiding force when it comes to core business processes, with IT budgets being impacted."

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