One of our client consultancies recently raised an issue about using the name “Enterprise Architect.” Many of their clients, particularly on the business side, didn’t understand the title unless a lot of context was included to help explain it. While I think most IT types have had enough exposure to EA to understand what it is all about, this isn’t true on the business side. Even though the name might be the industry standard and reflect (to some extent) what we do, if it takes explaining then maybe it isn’t the best name.
I do think it is the “architect” term that is the main problem, but “enterprise” anything has also left a bad impression with some companies – and really, what does “enterprise” mean anyway? Who else uses that term in their title? Finance and HR operate exactly the same way as EA – they have enterprise accountabilities – but don’t have enterprise in their titles – or at least I haven’t seen it yet.
Additionally, when I work with new EA programs, I frequently find that they are in their third, fourth, and sometimes fifth iteration of building an EA practice. Often there is a negative connotation around the EA term built up from past failures. These clients also would like to use a different label for enterprise architects.
Forrester sees EA as primarily a strategy function. It can be focused on business strategy, technology strategy, or both depending on the organizational approach. In a recent client session we brainstormed a number of different names for the enterprise architect including: IT Strategist, Business Technology Strategist, Enterprise Strategist, Corporate IT Strategist, Corporate Business Technology Strategist, Enterprise Alignment Consultants, and Enterprise Strategy Consultants. We also came up with a similar series of names replacing strategist with advisor.
Despite the lack of a sustained full-on recovery in the global economy, one gets the feeling that we're at the beginning of a period of tech expansion and growth, doesn't one? For many, 2011 budgeting planning is happening now, so it remains to be seen what yourexpansion and growth will be in the near term, but there's certainly no shortage of interesting new developments from technology vendors to whet your appetite.
While it's fun to look at emerging tech and imagine what impact it might have several years from now, it's a bit more pragmatic to focus on the technology trends that will be hitting the mainstream and making significant waves in the corporate world and in the public sector in the next few years.
In Q4 of last year Forrester published The Top 15 Technology Trends EA Should Watch. The author, analyst Alex Cullen, spoke with a few dozen analysts for input and then applied strict criteria for inclusion of a particular tech trend in the doc: 1) significant business or IT impact in the next 3 years; 2) newness, with implications not only for new business capabilities but also for the organization's understanding of the technology and how to manage it; and 3) complexity, especially regarding cross-functional impact to the organization.
I recently led a workshop with 35 clients from a variety of industries to uncover the challenges they face in their business architecture efforts. Through brainstorming and breakout discussions, the group created more than 160 individual challenge statements. In subsequent analysis I was able to identify 14 unique challenges in three major categories: EA skill/capability, organization/culture, and support/resources.
Here are the challenges I identified:
Lack of business skills in the EA team
No proven BA methodology to follow
Low EA visibility/credibility in the business community
Poor business-IT goal alignment
Gatekeepers protect their business relationships
Business units plan and work in silos
A culture of change resistance
Tactical business focus
Lack of clearly articulated business strategy
Lack of executive sponsorship
BA’s value proposition hasn’t been established
Lack of funding for BA initiatives
Concern over impact to other initiatives
Management puts a low priority on BA
Fourteen challenges seem like a lot to deal with (and I am sure there are more). But as I looked at the list I realized that these are not unrelated issues that can be solved independently but in fact are clearly structurally related. For example: A lack of funding can only be solved when you have a compelling value proposition, which can only be created when you have demonstrated value in some way, which can only be done when you have the right skills and capabilities. A general model of the relationship is below. I know most of us would like to start with funding and executive sponsorship, but it just doesn’t work that way.