Aligning business technology with an organization's strategy and goals can often be a complex and overwhelming process without the right tools and expertise. Enterprise architects are now a valuable part of any modern and traditional enterprise. Enterprise architecture is a strategically and technically high-level role that scales elements of IT architecture for critical use in enterprise environments.
While business transformation employs many skilled and specialist roles, enterprise architects should not be confused with solution, technical, or business architects. While there is an overlap, the overarching purpose of each role differs.
An enterprise architect is an IT professional who ensures an organization’s IT strategy is aligned with its business goals. They analyze business properties, define all business needs, and the external environment.
EAs work closely with stakeholders, management, and SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to develop and implement an organization's strategy, information, processes, and IT assets. An EA is responsible for using this knowledge to ensure IT and business alignment.
Among all IT architects, EAs will have the most overarching view of an organization, and vast knowledge of its business capabilities and potential. EAs play a key role in identifying business needs using both external factors (such as competitors) and internal factors (such as the company's IT landscape).
The role of an EA requires strategizing to manage legacy and cloud systems, replace obsolete software and lead migrations to support business operations across each department.
While other IT specialists such as technical architects focus on solving day-to-day technology solutions, enterprise architects will be strategizing multi-year roadmaps to enable business growth, ensure compliance and reduce the complexity of key business and IT processes.
During the day-to-day, EAs will play a vital role across the enterprise IT landscape; they will be defining the applications, establishing architecture principles, leading digital transformation, developing enterprise frameworks, decommissioning or transforming legacy applications, data migration, security, privacy, etc.
EAs will also be mentoring the team to move an organization toward its target architecture.
There are a few myths that organizations should be aware of before employing an enterprise architect and employing an EA strategy. Enterprise architect myths include:
There are several skills and qualifications required to be a successful enterprise architect.
Both soft and hard skills are required to become a successful EA which becomes visible already in common enterprise architect interview questions. The role requires both strong communication skills as well as analytical skills to ensure that businesses have the right tools for success. Skills include:
Enterprise architect qualifications are varied because they can come from a variety of backgrounds including business analysts, consultants, IT specialists, or leadership. A combination of education and experience is required to become an EA.
EAs leverage working methodologies and frameworks developed by consortiums, governments, or prominent tech companies which have laid the groundwork for today’s modern enterprise architecture practices. The most popular enterprise architect frameworks are:
The average salary for an enterprise architect can range from $96,000 to $175,000 per year, depending on the level and experience. The average EA's salary in the United States is currently $137,639.
EA's salary expectations will range hugely based on experience, certifications, and qualifications. As increasingly sought-after IT and business landscapes are becoming increasingly reliant on one another, this will also factor into salary negotiations.
It will also vary depending on the country and state (in the USA).
|Senior Enterprise Architect||$157,064|
|Entry Level EA||$99,375|
Most people don’t just become enterprise architects overnight but will have come into the role from a variety of different career paths. The majority have degrees in computer science or IT management, and have then spent many years gaining relevant experience through other strategic or planning positions; such as corporate or business planning, senior IT positions, or even C-level roles.
The most common path is starting as an individual contributor or consultant, moving to a solution architect role, and later on to an enterprise architect.
The job role requires applicants to have a strong educational background and at least 7 years of experience before seeking employment as an enterprise architect. Any career training provided within an organization will focus on familiarizing architects with the IT systems and business processes already in place within the company.
Certifications prove to any employer that the candidate has the relevant experience to be a successful EA. Some certificates are more valuable than others, however holding several certificates will only be a benefit to employers.
These are arguably the most important enterprise architect certifications:
As the discipline has developed, more and more EA tools have become available to help architects and businesses achieve their goals and target architecture. Modern enterprises require tools that facilitate the implementation of a business strategy focused on business outcomes and risk mitigation. Therefore, selecting the best EA tool for your organization proves to be essential.
The LeanIX EAM is designed to manage the transformation and risk of an organization’s IT landscape. This tool leverages technology to make decisions and manage change using an outcome-driven approach. Other enterprise architecture tools are available for application portfolio management, technology & risk management, and business transformation.
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To be a successful EA, candidates must be deeply knowledgeable of EA best practices and have strong leadership and organizational skills. How to be the most successful? Focus on these values:
While there is a crossover between the two roles, Data Architects and Enterprise Architects aren’t one in the same. A Data Architect is specialized in data management and will work through EA methodologies on the “What," "How," and "Where" of a project in regards to gathering and analyzing data. Enterprise Architects, however, are responsible for the over-arching needs and success of the project – not just the data.
An Enterprise Architect and the Chief Architect have similar roles, however, the Chief Architect will take on a more administrative role. The Chief Architect is responsible for all the architectural activity across the business to ensure needs are being met everywhere. Their job is to make technology choices, supervise the implementation of designs, and develop high-performance architects.
Software Architects provide a hands-on approach to architecture by providing technical leadership within the project lifecycle. They are responsible for integration standards and strategies within software development, and are not so concerned with the wider business activities of the organization as an enterprise architect would be. It is another senior position involved with decision-making in regard to tools and platforms to be used.
A System Architect defines the architecture of a computerized system. Their job involves dividing complex systems into manageable smaller systems which can be handled by individual engineers. It is another high-level position and has a strong background in computer science and information technology to assist in the design, scheduling, troubleshooting, planning, and pricing of major projects. Once again, the Enterprise Architect is more concerned with an organization’s business objectives in regards to their IT systems.
A Principal Architect has a broader set of responsibilities. They will normally have general concerns rather than a focused specialization on a single architecture domain. They tend to be responsible for producing the contract documents. Principle architects typically have overall responsibility for a portfolio of solutions and involve a more diverse set of stakeholders.
An Enterprise Architect, on the other hand, is concerned with the informed strategic execution of solutions. They design elements of business initiatives in accordance with a planned future state that includes and reflects the strategic goals of the organization.
A business analyst understands the value of a project or initiative and focuses on the business's needs and solution delivery. Business analysts and enterprise architects have similar responsibilities but BAs are primarily concerned with the facilitation of communications between tech groups to make sure requirements are successfully implemented. EAs are involved in both sides of the business and IT. Business analysts are more concerned with business activities.
IT architects, such as enterprise architects, business architects, solution architects, and tech architects are a dream team when planning and executing the transformation and upgrades of an organization’s business activities and processes. These roles successfully work together to align the company's technological resources with its business practices and to continuously transform.
Enterprise architects are here to stay but they require collaborative and intuitive tools to achieve their purpose. Without it, the EAs can be seen as a one-time project that only exists for IT.
The core competencies of IT architecture
How to become an Enterprise Architect
How to become a Solution Architect
How to become a Technical Architect
The daily use cases tackled by each role
Is an enterprise architect a good job?
How do I become an enterprise architect?
What are the skills of an enterprise architect?
Are Enterprise Architects in-demand?
How hard is it to become an enterprise architect?
Is enterprise architect a technical role?
Why do you need an enterprise architect?