Professional Development Needs of the Business Architect: 2016 Survey

business architect development pie chart

In April 2016, Penn State Executive Programs and Business Innovation Partners executed an online survey to explore the educational needs of the business architecture community. The survey targeted both current business architects and others interested in the field.

We found most business architects have little or no formal education and perceive a lack of high-quality educational options are available. Our findings also revealed a high interest in learning practical techniques, both technical and nontechnical. Most favor some type of virtual presentation format.

Survey respondents indicated time, money, a shortage of high-quality educational offerings, and management’s lack of recognition of business architecture’s value all presented significant challenges to furthering their professional development.

SURVEY DEMOGRAPHICS

The objective of this survey was to capture the widest possible view of educational needs in the business architecture community. The survey targeted current business architects as well as others interested in the field. The Business Architects Development Survey was distributed through Penn State’s enterprise architecture and business architecture interested parties list, readers of The Business Architect blog, and members of the LinkedIn Business Architecture Community but was not limited to respondents from those groups.

The largest portion of survey respondents (38 percent) are business architects with enterprise and technical architects making up another 28 percent. The remainder of the respondents came from roles that typically lead to positions in business architecture.

SURVEY RESPONSES

Cost, time, and perceived lack of options are all significant obstacles to business architecture professional development (see figure 1). Though travel was reported as a very low concern, comments indicated that it was a significant contributor to both cost and time issues.

A large number of comments indicated senior management’s lack of perceived value of the business architecture function made it difficult to secure resources for professional development in this area. There is also a strong sentiment that current professional development offerings are lacking.

Despite the lack of high-quality professional development offerings and concerns over both cost and time commitments, less than 20 percent of respondents have established a sufficient business architecture development program. Seventy-five percent have no internal development program.

We found interest in business architecture topics trends toward practical application of business architecture tools and techniques with less interest in basic concepts and practice management. Over 40 percent of survey respondents expressed interest in 11 of the 13 tool choices listed in the survey (see figure 2).

business architect development tools and techniques

Survey respondents also expressed a high degree of interest in non-technology business architecture skills with a very high degree of interest in measuring the value of business architecture (see figure 3). This data aligns with the comments regarding senior management’s lack of perceived value of BA. Business architects would find acquiring resources for professional development much easier to justify if they could articulate a strong value proposition for the business architecture practice.

business architect development related topicsSurvey respondents reported a strong preference for virtual classes with almost no interest in one-on-one coaching. Most think a hybrid model of virtual and real time form the best option.

Respondents are equally split on their value of certification with one-third regarding it as highly important, one-third giving it moderate importance, and one-third assigning little importance. Respondents valued certification through an industry professional body over university certification despite there being no widely recognized professional body to perform certification. Over 75 percent of respondents reported interest in a master’s degree in business architecture.

SUMMARY

Business architects are playing important roles within their organizations with little or no formal education in the field. High-quality business architecture education and training, delivered through reputable universities and other providers, will be a crucial component in the continued evolution and expansion of the business architecture profession. Professionals interested in business architecture do not see high-quality education options currently available to them. Time, money, and poor value propositions are all concerns but are within the business architects’ control. There is significant interest in a wide range of topics. This lack of focused interest provides little guidance to guide educators’ efforts.

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About Brian Cameron and Jeff Scott 1 Article

Bill H. Cameron, PhD is strategic director of Penn State’s Center for Enterprise Architecture and is associate dean for Professional Graduate Programs in the Smeal College of Business. Dr. Cameron is also the founding president of the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO). His primary research and consulting interests include enterprise architecture value measurement, hybrid enterprise architecture framework development, enterprise integration, information management and storage, and the use of simulations and gaming in education. Dr. Cameron has designed and taught executive education sessions for senior IT executives.
Jeff Scott, president of Business Innovation Partners, is an internationally recognized thought leader in business architecture, strategy execution, and organizational transformation. He has a master’s in learning and experimental psychology from Wake Forest University. Scott is a former Forrester analyst for business architecture and member of the Business Architecture Guild’s advisory board. He currently writes the blog, The Business Architect, chairs The Business Architect’s Roundtable, and is the editorial director for the Business Architecture Institute.