Business Architects – In the Driver’s Seat

Do they Finally Get It?

“By 2008, 40% of enterprise architects will have primary expertise in business strategy or process engineering” 2004 Meta Group, Inc.

They get it. It took some time, but they get it now. I might generalize and say that most medium size businesses have some sort of architecture function in their midst. I’d go further an say every large business now believes that architecture is the brass ring as far as IT success is concerned.

Why is that? Some might argue that that SOX and Clinger-Cohen in the United States have enacted regulations that force this issue. Others might just say that the world has become technical enough to demand it. Or, we’ve got enough airplane magazines now that use the word.

Let’s be optimistic here – we, as IT professionals finally get it, and that is why. What do we get? That Business drives IT. Period. End of sentence. Business strategy drives enterprise architecture, and business is the pure and simple reason that IT exists in the first place. Enterprise architecture success is determined by corporate and line-of-business managers support.

We have started to group our IT product catalog around services. We have application, technology and operational service portfolios that contact web products such as applications, frameworks, web and internet hosting, as well as customer support. Components are groups into services in each portfolio rather than around business applications.

We are starting to understand leverage and reuse. We are getting a spot at the dinner table when the family discusses business strategy. If we are complete, we will ensure that we have some definition within our IT house walls, of the organization’s environment, its goals, objectives, major programs of action and the resource allocation choices required to execute them.

We seem to understand integration…

An integrated strategy which includes technology is enabling businesses to gain successes as never seen before. When we listen to what the business is trying to achieve, and find ways to enable their desires through technology and they can see it, we are viewed as both compliant and successful. If we are to show up at the dinner table and talk only about new cool technologies, our stock continues to tumble.

Business Executives always go back to the basics when considering strategies. They look at perspectives such as product differentiation and marketing segmentation when considering new strategies. If we can enable them to reach new levels with the use of technology, and speak to how we can help them to arrive at these goals in their terms, they understand, accept and encourage us.

Learn Business Speak

We, as enterprise architects, need to truly understand more business speak. If you are the architect in a commercial setting, take the time to understand some basics. For example, market factors are an excellent area of business knowledge worth knowing. If you spend as some time this month researching various marketing factors such as market entry, product risk, product differentiation and product price positioning in relation to the types of technologies that might be required to implement such strategies, you will have well spent your reading and research time.

I would suggest you spend some time looking at various business decision making techniques, such as Boston Consulting Group’s Product Portfolio Analysis and Porter’s Five Forces Analysis. I’ve spent time studying and using many such models and techniques when I’ve both analyzed and modeled business architectures and share some of this information at my decision making site.

Strategic planning considers business strategic value of IT investments. Learning business strategy yourself will payoff in spades to your future. It is something that may not interest you in theory initially, but when you understand how it relates to technology, you might become much more interested and your stake value will increase dramatically!

— A reprint of an Architect Abstract newsletter article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Connect with Facebook