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New business architecture: How to get fired as an enterprise architect


By: Eric J. Bruno


I know plenty of great enterprise architects, with superior technology vision and understanding. These folks are like artists, with enterprise infrastructure as their canvas. Most of them have been fired more than once. Why? Because they couldn't (or were afraid to) propose their innovative new business architecture to the executive team.


Communicate directly with the CEONew business architecture starts at the top

I speak a great deal about accountability as an architect. This means putting your job on the line when it comes to achieving release success and meeting deadlines. Although this is important to your company, you can take it too far. For example, if you spend most of your architecture time with developers or the product group, you may be regarded as a technical advisor and not someone directly responsible for adding true value.


Instead, you need to provide business value to the CEO. Too many enterprise architects forget that new business architecture should support the company's technology vision, which the CTO creates to support the company's core business. This means you need to think in terms of budgets, costs and revenue, as much as you do in terms of mobility, cloud and big data. Years ago, I emphasized this by coining the term economics-driven architecture, supported by the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI) cost benefit analysis method (CBAM).


The bottom line — think in business terms, support the technology vision, and communicate your new business architecture vision upwards.


Stand out by making mistakes

This business approach to enterprise architecture puts you right in the crossfire: finding ways to increase revenue, decrease costs (or waste) and create shareholder value. You might think this puts you more at risk of losing your job, but that's not the case. First you need to get past that fear of failure.


It's been said that if you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough. This isn't an excuse to fail through lack of preparation. Effective communication of a sound (though possibly flawed) business architecture requires skills honed through experience, education and a formal approach.


A formal approach to business failure

Of course the goal is to succeed, but with any agile and iterative process, small mistakes along the way are acceptable as long as they're identified quickly. Constant communication with the CEO is the first strategy to ensure this. Next, use a formal process such as CBAM or the critical success factor method from the Open Group. With a formal process, you define architectural strategies driven by business goals that address important parameters such as performance, usability, security and mutability — something to provide to development. The output parameters are based on both cost and benefit — something to provide to the CEO.


To solidify this approach to business architecture, you need traceability from the business to IT. You do this through a formal approach, as previously described, and by breaking down the business goals into components to be implemented, supported and maintained as the business changes. This new business architecture consistency leads to long-term success.


Finally, embed leadership throughout the process, creating key proponents to communicate the business architecture vision to all levels of the organization. A good architect shouldn't be measured solely on the artifacts they create, but by how well they enable and empower others to take it to the next level.


In a nutshell: nimble communication throughout the organization allows everyone to explore new ideas without fear, knowing small mistakes will be turned into successes early on. This all starts with the enterprise architect's communication with the CEO.


Know who has your back

The final piece of the puzzle for effective business architecture is to never go it alone. Find a partner! Companies such as HP offer enterprise services to help you succeed, such as:


  • Business Process Services: orchestrate processes with technology to directly support business strategy and tactics with governance, security and regulatory compliance.
  • Industry Solutions: focus on verticals and other customer-specific problem spaces such as financial services, manufacturing, healthcare and so on.
  • Support Services: architect problem avoidance, reporting and resolution in from the start, including performance management, lifecycle management and capacity planning.
  • Security Services: companies often cite security as their leading technology concern for mobility, cloud, and IoT — all hot topics you need to focus on. Seek outside help to limit liability.

And of course, to support development — which is still important — HP offers workload and cloud services, mobility and workplace services, analytics and data management services, security services and more.


Bridging the gap between the CEO and the development teams that implement these strategies may not be easy. But done well, it can be viewed as the most important and rewarding job in the enterprise. How's that for job security?


Get to the art of the possible by moving to the new style of business. Read the Insights: 2015 Infrastructure Imperatives eBook to see how you can use digital technologies to increase agility and boost innovation.


Insights: 2015 Infrastructure imperatives



About the author

Eric BrunoEric Bruno


Eric Bruno is a computer scientist skilled in the art and science of full life cycle, large-scale software architecture, design, and development. His accomplishments span client/server development, highly distributed development, multi-tiered web development, real-time development, and transactional software development. He writes and speaks often on software architecture and development related topics.

About the author

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 Follow me on Twitter ericjbruno

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