About The Enterprise Architect Role

I was recently interviewed for an article in PC Pro about IT careers…

How do you go about getting into an enterprise architect role?

Enterprise Architects can come from a broad range of disciplines but generally are very experienced in one domain – technology, business or information.  The vast majority have a technology background reflecting the fact that most architecture practices are more developed in that area.

Is it a matter of experience and working your way up through the ranks, or are there courses and qualifications that can put you on the fast track?

It is a matter of experience and being able to span the gap between IT and the business.  It is only now beginning to transition into a profession with degree courses starting to appear, such as this from Penn State.  In terms of professional qualifications, the one with the most traction is The Open Group Architecture Framework.  Also, Gartner offer Foundation Seminars for their approach to EA.   Enterprise Architecture as Strategy is a key book for anybody interested in becoming an Enterprise Architect.

How much of the job is technical, and how much of the job is to do with understanding business processes and seeing where you can make them more efficient?

The Enterprise Architecture of any organisation comprises of business, information and technology.  However, many Enterprise Architecture practices, especially new ones, tend to focus too heavily on technology.  As they mature they become more balanced.

Are there any personal qualities that make someone a good enterprise architect?

A good Enterprise Architect needs to have good people skills, good listening skills and comfortable working across a number of different disciplines.  I was reading an interesting article about hostage negotiators recently and it struck me that these are the kind of qualities that an Enterprise Architect needs.

To what extent is it a bridging role, making the case for technical projects to people who might not have technical knowledge themselves

It’s all about bridging the gap between IT and the business.  This may be identifying gaps that the business have not identified themselves, spotting opportunities for converged common solutions across business units, identifying trends that the business needs to adapt its strategy to e.g. new technology drivers.  The classic examples in recent times are mobile, social media, big data and cloud.

What are the most challenging aspects of the job, and what are the most rewarding?

The most challenging and rewarding part of the job is working with people.


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