By Paul Preiss, Founder and CEO of IASA Global
Of the many questions I get from people, there is one that I don’t talk about often enough. Whether it is hard to answer, or I am uncertain how to communicate the answer, I don’t know.
But the question is: “Why do you do this?”
I think about the answer to that question a lot, or other questions that spin off from it, like:
“Why do I agree to make less money, even though I got regular offers for more?
Why do I participate in a job that may never change things, especially when many people don’t understand the vision?”
Even though these questions are directed specifically it me, I get the feeling that IT architects everywhere experience some of these questions as well.
Here is at least part of the answer: Together, we can actually change things of importance. Separately, we may do good individual work. But until we band together, we will always be ignored on the larger stage. This has been true of all professions. So, I thought I’d write a series of articles about issues that need to be addressed on the larger stage and how we, as a profession, can fix them.
What Is the Larger Stage?
The larger stage in my mind is the set of issues and opportunities at the industry, government, education, professional (inclusive of all), cultural, legal and societal levels. For example, sustainability is on the larger stage. Training is not. But Career Paths for architects are. Voice in governing definitely is there. Contracting and procurement methods. Technology and society. Accredited universities. Health. Disaster relief. Value awareness to the CXO and client. Saving lives. Security. Identity. Defense. Politics. You get my drift.
I started IASA Global because I believe that architects, as a single body, should be at the center of technology and society; that we have a societal contract to be experts in how technology impacts business, value, health, human safety, law and security; and that we are positioned best to make sweeping changes.
Here are the top issues I’d like to address in these articles:
- Technology adoption and spending is ludicrously broken. We follow marketing dollars. Stakeholders make investment decisions based on hype or emotion or ego. Architects have very little voice inside their companies, or are ignored completely. The industry is built on fads and huge IT spend.
- Vendors and large consulting companies have WAY too much power. I do not believe the employees are “bad,” but this is like asking the fox where the chickens can sleep safely. Marketing dollars control almost everything we learn, search for, and deliver. I just watched a GenAI marketing pitch on building AI reports. It all worked so “magically.” It looked so good I almost forgot I watched the same damn thing with portals, reporting tools, dashboards, time and time again.
- Beneficial trends take decades to roll out and people still do them horribly. The quality of technique adoption is terrible. Think of agile. After a quarter of a century the number of excellent adoptions is marginal at best. Why? If we adopted medical techniques this way we would all be dead.
- Technologists still don’t function as a part of business. Our tools are the most important in the world to business success, but we still function as order takers? Other businesspeople still take credit for the wins and blame us for the losses? WTF?
- Contracts and execution have no individual liability. The assumption is to “build it with the cheapest people and govern them (police the idiots)” not “build it with the best people who know what they are doing already.” Consulting organizations are body shops that send us school buses full of fresh graduates to make their big mistakes on OUR systems. There is no standard of skills even for their “architects” since they make them up themselves. And we are ok with that? Sorry, all of you lovely organizations and your billions of dollars of client money which you spend on marketing. I’ve seen how you train architects. And I’ve seen how it changes with the internal political waters. I’ve seen how you change titles to sell more! Reinventing the same things and then calling it new. Digital freaking transformation indeed. Cloud native. Enterprise architecture strategy. Blah. Blah
- Government listens not to professionals, but to vendors. We have no voice in policy, in government contracts, in audits. Where are our reviews? Where are the unified skill standards? The recognized and accredited certifications necessary to build hospitals, energy grids, transportation?
This is starting to sound like a rant. Maybe it should be. But my goal is to focus on solutions.
Architects can work together to publish real case studies and real results. This is my dream. Chief architects, solution architects, business, information, and infrastructure working together to recommend to industry a means of adoption and a timeline. A set of risks and security concerns. A package of patterns. A level of skill needed by individuals implementing it (and the consulting orgs that don’t provide that should not get the business).
And this is not just an organization play. It isn’t even, “invest in the IASA and you get the results.” It will be open to individuals, universities, and organizations including those that I have been bashing. As long as they play by the rules.
Maybe I will see this emerge in my own career. Or at least during my lifetime. It is one of the things I have dreamed of for 20 years. It is how we as a profession can be truly heard. And it is how we fight the stupidity rampant in our own organizations and on the larger stage!
Watch this space for future articles that take a deep dive into these issues.