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Becoming the Enterprise Architect of Tomorrow: Part 1

Posted by Lesa Moné on November 27, 2017

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The enterprise architect (EA) profession is making major waves. The demand for the EA skillset is up an astonishing 26% from 2016, making it the fastest-growing sought-after skillset in technology.  A recent KMPG study reports that big data, analytics, business analysis, and enterprise architecture are the most in-demand or fast-growing skills - yet six in ten respondents consistently report a technology skills shortage. 

How can you sharpen your skills and become a highly valuable EA of Tomorrow?  Follow this blog series to learn the five most important traits that high-performing EAs of tomorrow must possess. The series will also cover actionable tips on how to develop and apply said traits. 

An Enterprise Architect’s (EA) role is elaborate and extremely dynamic. They can deliver great value by cutting cost and complexity by aligning IT concerns, technology tools, and strategic business goals. EAs previously produced exhaustive 5-year plans consisting of excessive amounts of analysis, slow timelines, and rigid conceptual models. With the agility and DevOps movement on today’s IT management best practice, old EA mentalities are forced into obsolescence. Successful EAs of tomorrow must acquire five integral traits to guide their company to success. Implementing these traits will enable the company to scale up and quickly meet the speed and demands brought forth by digital transformation.

By redirecting the EA focus to a data-driven, agile-minded, forward-thinking, problem-solving viewpoint, EAs of the future will be significantly more valuable, increasingly more recognized, sought after, focused on impactful subjects, and provide measurable value for themselves and their company.


Ability to execute

Some EAs of the past invested a disproportionate amount of time documenting information and collecting hordes of data for the sake of collecting it. Unfortunately, while the data was actively decreasing in relevance, EAs would use said aging data to generate a 5-year plan. Bluntly said, after creating the directive, the EAs would disappear back to their decks, and begin the ineffective process again.

Progressive EAs assess which systems or processes are currently working and keep a sharp lookout for the imminent challenges and opportunities ahead. EAs of the future must quickly grasp, store, structure, and analyze information that could help solve an oncoming problem in the enterprise landscape. Not only propose and investigate possible resolutions but remain helpful and accessible, offering supplemental support until a solution is reached.

For example - Helvetia, one of the largest insurance companies in Switzerland, substantially benefited from having a more hands-on, results-driven approach to consolidate two substantial IT landscapes. Over the span of 150 years, Helvetia has grown from a small number of Swiss and foreign insurance brands into a successful insurance group that operates in six European countries.

Today, around 7,000 employees serve more than 4.7 million customers. After merging with the former Nationale Suisse insurance company in 2014, Helvetia needed clear changes in architecture framework to ensure business as usual operations, combine IT departments, and provide IT support for the integration of all business processes.

With so much on their plate, Helvetia turned to LeanIX to help execute a successful IT merger. Balancing the complex requirements of IT integration in a merger required solid communication between technology leaders and business management. The EA team worked closely with the CIO and mapped out an IT management system using custom-built IT management tools.

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Fig. 1: Five integral traits of tomorrow’s Enterprise Architect

The EA team provided up-to-date knowledge about the IT landscape to the group. Keenly focused on results, the EA team took every opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, in short, frequent workshops that provided valuable feedback to tweak processes and to deliver fast results. The EA team provided further/continual support and involved the teams in short data sprints to improve the knowledge on the Helvetia IT landscape on an ongoing basis.

The merger not only proved successful, but it was also extremely cost-effective for Helvetia. In addition to achieving improved start times of IT projects and reducing project setup effort, Helvetia identified a million euro deficit caused by IT redundancy. Helvetia’s use case proves that whenever EAs are directly involved in the implementation of projects and help execute changes in the data model, processes run smoother, deliverables come quicker, and money is saved.

Tech savvy

Take the initiative to gain the digital skills you require to make a difference in your organization, and find a way to provide value to the CDO. You will be more valuable to your organization, your skills will be more current, and you’ll have more fun as well. What do you have to lose?” – Jason Bloomberg

The EA of the future must not only be aware of the availability of industry-relevant APIs, microservices, and emerging database technologies; but it is also imperative to exhaustively understand how a proposed service might improve or negatively impact the company. Where EAs of the past would have nominally researched possible solutions and handed it off to the prospective team to resolve, tech-savvy EAs of tomorrow are in close continual contact with CIOs, CDOs, application leaders, and IT teams, educating themselves on the technical mechanics of each project. EAs of the future understand the importance of staying abreast of DevOps and emerging applications that could save the company time and money, and open up unlimited possibilities. All teams will directly benefit from having a connected/educated enterprise. One of the key architectural changes is microservices. EAs will undoubtedly have to give well-founded advice on this framework, and its possible benefits to their company.

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Fig. 2: Monoliths and microservices, according to Martin Fowler

The microservices style of architecture develops complex application software from small, individual applications that communicate with each other using language-independent interfaces (APIs). Companies run into trouble if they are unable to scale monolithic architecture that has developed over time if their architecture is difficult to upgrade or maintenance becomes too complex. Microservices can be the answer to this problem, as they break down complex tasks into smaller processes that work independently of each other.

However, it is extremely important to define a target architecture before beginning to implement microservices, otherwise, the IT landscape may end up devolving into chaos and exhibit worse properties than the existing monolithic applications. Tech-savvy EAs give clear-cut advice on microservices and implement a framework to benefit from microservices, service-oriented architecture, DevOps, or any other emerging trends.

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