Enterprise Architects: Educating Their Way to IT and Business Alignment
By: IDG | 07/20/2016
As we know from previous IDG research – InfoWorld’s The Rise of the Developer persona study – enterprise developers hold both strategic and technical roles within their organizations. Now, based on an additional persona study, we know the future role of many of these individuals will hold – enterprise architects, aligning IT and business. The enterprise architect role is growing in visibility and importance to the organization as their job responsibilities include converting business strategies to IT strategies, providing solution architects with roadmaps or specifications, and assisting infrastructure in mapping future strategy to align with IT. A certain character is needed with the enterprise architect role as well, and these must-have traits include:
- Strategic thinking expertise (67%)
- Business savvy (56%)
- Tech expertise (51%)
“Yes, I think there is a huge need for [enterprise architects]. But of a specific variety: people that are capable of working with all of the groups within the company and not just IT, and able to express the ideas and communicate issues in a common format.”
Senior Architect, Consulting
From the very beginning of their role, the enterprise architect must be able to display an essential skill; and that is to communicate effectively and efficiently with various types of colleagues. Eighty-eight percent say that being “bilingual” in a sense, and communicating effectively with IT and business departments is a critical/very important skill to have.
Additional skills necessary to the enterprise architect role:
- Keeping up with the pace of technology change (86%)
- Educating themselves about various siloed business problems across the organization (85%)
- Making the case for new business technologies (82%)
Successfully completing these duties is no easy task. But enterprise architects have a solid education strategy to continue their influence on the business. They spend a chunk of their workweek self-educating. On average, they spend 9 hours per week researching and learning about unique business needs and departmental problems, with less experienced architects spending on average 10.5 hours per week. Over ¼ (29%) of IT architects spend between 6-10 hours per week, while 34% spend 0-5 hours.
Education comes in all sorts of formats, and enterprise architects use whichever options they have available to them, including meeting with various roles within the organization. Seventy-three percent meet regularly with infrastructure subject matter experts to learn about recent upgrades and changes. Additionally, enterprise architects collaborate with line of business directors and managers, business strategists, and product/solution managers; which works to their benefit because 85% say that they have cultivated strong relationships with senior business stakeholders while in their role.
Despite these connections to learn from, enterprise architects still struggle to obtain the necessary information they need to succeed in their role. Only 26% of architects report that they have the ability to access information relevant to their role and challenges, while only 20% say they have an opportunity to connect with their peers in a similar role. As the architect role continues to grow with more importance within organizations, business unit leaders must provide enterprise architects with the tools necessary for them to lead the organization towards a successful IT and business alignment.
“Enterprise architecture is not something which you can just train someone over a day or two. It’s not something you pick up as a skill. It takes time to really understand and then add value, and you need to be patient, and you need to be thinking out of the box.”