The Enterprise Architect of Tomorrow

The pandemic has turned every industry upside down, and with that, it has changed the job description of many Tech specialist roles. What does an Enterprise Architect look like in a post-COVID era? What qualities should they possess, and what skills should they focus on? Read as share my perspective on the secret to the ideal Enterprise Architect of tomorrow.

An Enterprise Architect (EA) is the key to achieve the technological upper hand through information. Enterprise Architects are responsible for developing products that require high technical involvement; they determine the product requirements, functional designs, and the risks associated with Innovation. Enterprise Architects requires innovative and creative thinking, solving complex business and technology problems, and strategizing which services will support business operations.

Enterprise Architects work across the organization, analyzing & assessing enterprise requirements, recommending technology, designing systems that merge applications and information sources to achieve business objectives.

In this digital age, organizations expect their Enterprise Architects to focus on driving outcomes that support business. EAs are expected to work in more resilient and innovative ways to develop a vision of a successful future and the methods to achieve it.

In 2021, Enterprise Architects are expected to understand business and technology landscapes and the apparent demand to deliver critical advice and priority deliverables credibly and rapidly.

A successful Enterprise Architect is trusted and possesses the ability to anticipate new ideas. He/She always remains connected to the organization and supports relevant data-driven and responsible decisions. An EA should always try to integrate the value chains in an organization.

According to a Gartner study:

  • By 2023, 60% of organizations will rely on EA roles to lead the business approach to digital Innovation.
  • By 2021, 40% of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies.

Traditional EA is still far-reaching and supports IT governance, assurance, architecture standards, and architecture review boards. Still, as the digital transformation is expanding, EAs are now focusing more on tracking and applying technology trends to businesses for better outcomes, rather than only dealing with command and control, traditionally the case with EA.

The first EA idea emerged in 1980; since then, technology has gone through quite a revolution. Today, Enterprises no longer expect their EAs to be exclusively focused on IT standards, structure, and control, but instead, they want them to fulfill the need for Innovation and flexibility. This provides EA with more opportunities to contribute to the success of the enterprise.

18 traits of the Enterprise Architect of 2021

Enterprise Architects are fully capable of creating big ripples. In today’s world, Enterprise Architecture is the most in-demand tech job out there, as enterprises recognize the importance of their roles in cutting costs and managing complexities. Future EA must use the latest business and technology ideas to create new revenue streams, services, and customer experiences.

With the pandemic, the need to digitally transform and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic brings new meaning to why and how businesses should process. Yet, it also marked a defining moment for the potential of enterprise architecture practices. EA in post covid era must understand the landscape across people, processes, information, and technology. They should provide designs that illustrate how strategic planning can impact these dimensions positively.

They should help decision-makers recognize the risks ahead. EA must understand and resolve the challenges of the pandemic and guide business leaders towards strategic objectives within the current and future landscape.

Note: Below Traits are complementary to each other and not in any order of prioritization.

1.     Execution is the priority – Focus on Delivering Business Value

Organizations invest a massive chunk of time documenting information, collecting vast amounts of data, and developing five-year plans. Still, capable Enterprise architects prioritize execution over planning while investing time in continuous assessment of systems and processes. Research has shown that short data sprints allow EA to process continuous improvements and produce faster results. This execution-centered approach gives faster initialization to IT projects.

2.     Think Architecturally

The role of an Enterprise Architect is very robust and can quickly change to fit in numerous sectors. This requires them to be sharp as a tack and quick on their feet. There is no ‘one size fits all solution when it comes to being an Enterprise Architect. EAs should master the way of innovating exclusive ideas quickly that helps businesses increase their approach faster. They must also understand the need for strategic planning, cost-effective ways and design an architecture that changes as soon as business needs change., They need to know their methodologies well enough to be able to customize them according to the contexts. Implementing dynamic methodologies across the enterprise can improve the software production timeline drastically.

Avoid the pitfalls of traditional EA by focusing on business value and business outcomes — first establish the “why” and “what” — then the “how” of “doing” EA.

3.     Hyper-Automation and Emerging Technologies

EA of 2021 must “know the ins and outs of current and emerging technologies and grasp how they can impact their organization.” Enterprise architects of the future understand:

  • Applying Hyper Automation across application and business process landscape
  • staying abreast with emerging Technologies like 5G, Robotics, DevSecOPS, Low Code No Code Platforms, AR/VR/MR, Decentralized and Multi-party platforms and solutions, Composable Apps, AI / ML, Quantum Computing, Emerging applications and toolsets, and trends that could save the company time and money and create new opportunities.

A good enterprise architect keeps up with new technology trends and can anticipate these trends in the business for beneficial results.

4. Data-Driven

Enterprise Architects need to make critical decisions that will lead to a drastic increase or decrease in performance through the software development cycle. For this purpose, their choices need to be data-driven to focus on a task that produces results and gives their enterprise a competitive edge. Efficient enterprise architects are up-to-date with analytics and prove hypotheses with data, regularly conduct A/B tests on the practicality of current systems and make decisions only from relevant data. This trait is essential as we live in a world where there is no shortage of data. The real task for enterprise architects is to isolate the data which is not relevant and use the required data in a meaningful way.

5.     Action-oriented

To provide real value to your organization, you must bring people together in whatever way works. Restart EA efforts by knowing how to begin. Construct a value proposition and go on a “roadshow” to get business leaders’ and product managers’ buy-in and mandate.

EA needs to move the needle and come to the table opinionated. Overwhelming your collaborators with too many viewpoints will only confuse them.  Your business model canvases and capability maps are great in EA but far too detailed for the distracted executive of today. Due to increased digital transformation, executives’ attention span has reduced, and the demand for quick and distinct results has increased. So, it is better to opt for short and relevant documentation that benefits the business.

In present times, the idea is not to create new but to reshape the existing information. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, find ways to utilize the current potentials to benefit a business. This can be quickly done by considering yourself as the axis of applicable technology trends and then initiate the plan.

6.     Modernize Business IT Systems Blueprints

  • Modernize Systems of Records (SoR) to Systems of Records & Intelligence
  • Refine the Systems of Engagement (SoE) to System of Engagement & Experience (SoEE)
  • Platform approach for Systems on Innovation (SoI)
  • Cloud-first for Systems of Insights & Compliance (SoIC)
  • Establish Systems of Knowledge and Learning (SoKL)

7.     Culture of continuous learning

  • Gain experience and knowledge with MVP
  • Be Agile with Agile Methodology

Successfully delivering Enterprise Architecture depends on a clearly defined and actionable business strategy, but this is often ill-defined or unactionable. EA and technology innovation leaders must deduce and clarify business strategy to deliver business outcomes.

8.     Design for Intelligence and Human-Centric Design

Use design thinking approaches to act as an internal management consultancy. Track and evaluate emerging technologies and map them back to the business model to identify how they can create opportunities. Add value to the enterprise through strategic technology integration.

9.     Innovation with Cloud-First mindset

Enterprise Architects needs to develop a Cloud-First mindset for reducing Technology Debt and leveraging Cloud as a catalyst for fast-paced Innovation to accelerate the Digital Transformation journey and build the future sustainable and resilient business.

10.Intelligent Multi-Experiences powered by AI and ML

Future EA needs to develop the skillset around developing intelligent multi-experience solutions and applications.

Natural User Interface, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Extended Reality, and Mixed Reality technologies would be the core of developing the new customer and employee experiences. Most of these new Intelligent Experiences would also require expertise with AI, ML technologies. To be successful, EA would need to understand the domain of:

  • Responsible AI
  • Responsible and Composable Enterprise
  • AIOps
  • Frameworks to building Responsible, Sustainable, and Resilient solutions

11. Refocus on Information Architecture (IA) and Solution Architecture continuum

EA should focus on optimizing and refining solution delivery to make it repeatable, effective, and efficient. They should identify and promote the value of information architecture.

It is high time for EA to develop the ability to deeply understand and frame the wide range of information to adapt to information-centric business models and drive competition and profitability. EA must create a business model that displays its objectives, future goals, associated risks, etc.

Create a vision, value proposition, and roadmap for the team, shifting the practice and raising the skills and competencies of team members.

12. Sustainability and Circular Economy

Future EA would need to develop the Sustainability and Circular Economic skills to help the enterprise achieve Net Zero emissions and new Sustainable products and services.

13. Cybersecurity and Zero Trust Design

Security and Trust are business imperative for businesses now. To succeed in the future, enterprises need to adopt Zero trust Design across Infra, App, Data, and governance domains.

As we advance EA, needs to develop its Technology acumen for Cybersecurity and Zero Trust Design.

14. Master the Digital Ethics and Digital Fluency with a new modern toolset for EA continuum and Hybrid Work

15. New Soft skills

21st-century EAs need to keep developing better skills and find different ways to collaborate between humans and technology. Consciously listening to staff, suppliers, and partners will help Enterprise Architects to understand their demands better and empower new working ways.

In reality, architecture is 90% people and 10% architecture. So future EA needs to develop some new Soft skills (in addition to standard aspects of Communication and Collaboration skills):

  • Empathy
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Active listening
  • Influencing
  • Creativity
  • Negotiation
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Partnerships with Technology Providers and Supply chain ecosystem

16. Guide the journey: A talent for navigating to the future

Enterprise architects should take a three-pronged approach to navigation. The priority for an EA should be building a game plan that benefits the future conditions of the business. This can quickly be done by including working methods and technologies that support the business process to move forward. Enterprise architects must collaborate with shareholders across organizations to design pragmatic roadmaps. Lastly, Enterprise Architects actively support the transformations necessary to help a business grow sustainably.

17. Curiosity, Adaptability, and Change

Enterprise architects must continue to apply a business-outcome-driven lens to technology investment planning & prioritization. A robust understanding of the relationship between business outcomes, business strategy, technology, and operations enables EA to identify and adopt the necessary changes to business and operating models.

Future EA – needs to be Curious about the Art of Possibilities, be adaptable, and drive the Change with Learn It All mode.

18. Coaching and Mentoring

EA groups that have developed some form of internal management consultancy capabilities will find it easier and faster to facilitate business redesign in a time-boxed, agile way. Their enterprise architects are equipped with the behavioral competencies required to coach business leaders, product, and fusion teams to make a wise investment and delivery decisions.

 

Summary

Enterprise Architects of tomorrow will be well-aware of the demands of individual aspects of Innovation. The EAs of the future will emphasize studying the requirements of individual stakeholders in the entire supply chain. They will be aware of the latest updates in the market to provide maximum value to their teams and the organization. They strive to change and grow with a holistic view and continuously learn from their past bittersweet experiences.

 

Gaurav Aggarwal is a thought leader and strategist known for innovative and disruptive approach in driving Digital Transformation, and developing scalable practices for Cloud, Application Modernization & Outsourcing & Intelligent Experience domains. Currently as Global Lead – Everything on Cloud Solution Strategy & GTM at Avanade Inc, he is responsible for developing futuristic Cloud solutions across Infra, Apps, Data and Security domain.