Understanding the role of an enterprise architect [EA] can be complex, as it spans business functions, capabilities, processes, roles, physical and organizational structure, data stores and flows, applications, platforms, hardware, and communication. Simply put, an EA is involved with the entire business — not just the IT department.
A derivative of the business vision, an EA develops business and technologies strategies to align IT with the overall business goals and applies the business strategy to an actionable plan to deliver the determined outcomes. In order for an EA to achieve success, the concepts must be understood by everyone versus only the IT department.
How to Claim a Seat at the Boardroom Table
To fully appreciate the value of an EA, it needs to be accepted and clearly understood. An enterprise architect must have passion and determination to earn a seat in boardroom discussion and decision-making. While pitching for an EA representation will require preparation and patience, it will lead to powerful payoffs for all stakeholders.
Here are four ways to ensure an enterprise architect joins the boardroom as an invaluable asset.
1. Tailor each conversation to each stakeholder
Simplify what enterprise architecture is without the jargon. When all participants in a conversation speak a common language, the dialogue is comprehensible, not confusing. Since each stakeholder has the expertise that benefits the boardroom, tailor each conversation to catch their attention.
A marketing expert will understand the advantage of quick time to market, while the head of IT will react to a conversation focused on updates to the IT component lifecycle, and the executive management will be paying attention to lowering cost, increasing agility and decreasing risk. Begin by building relationships by meeting with the executives in meetings and informal settings to spread the value proposition of an EA.
2. Create collaboration across the entire organization
An EA's consultative capabilities can be beneficial to all supporting teams with a strong understanding of the entire organization's landscape, processes and vision. Invite all stakeholders to engage in a collaborative, integrated method by helping teams solve challenges.
For instance, identify which applications to invest or divest in a portfolio to support the CIO, share updated application overviews that handle crucial customer and employee data with the security teams, and share the data and insights required to understand and solve the issue at hand in a function or department. Once allies are present, a buy-in for EA initiatives will begin.
3. Know the data
Data is highly valuable to an enterprise, some even say that data is enterprise currency. All boardroom decisions are data-driven. An EA must identify how the data for specific business requirements are adapted into technical specifications for the board and produce reports on the status of the current application landscape and IT inventory to address critical boardroom assessments and decision-making. This is an opportunity to tie the EA to data reports and business processes during meetings. Use data to emphasize real issues with use cases and diagrams and present options along with results.
By overlaying the EA on top of the business model, boardroom members can clearly see the cost, revenue, risk, and performance metrics to align their decisions with initiatives. Make the enterprise architect the data guru of the boardroom.
4. Executive sponsorship opportunity
Foster executive sponsorship to promote engagement of EA initiatives and impact the strength of an EA strategy including budgets, vendor options, and acquisitions. By understanding the business side and dynamics, the enterprise architect will be able to identify who is open to change and who is not; who has the most influence, and where the fractions are. Prepare from the start to engage executives in purposeful conservations to build unity and to be seen as an ally and supportive consultant.
From business to technology to operations, an EA can prove value in output, timeliness, revenue growth, cost reduction, agility, and scalability for all stakeholders. To achieve this, networking and preparation are necessary for an EA to secure a permanent seat in the boardroom.
Enterprise Architects' Advancing Role
The enterprise architect uses AI, data, and analytics to plan, manage and track business investments while involving every policy, process, and department in an organization to create a collaborative and holistic framework. The role of an EA is integrative with technical expertise, market sector knowledge, and skills with consultative capabilities. The invaluable role of an EA uses data to determine if applications need to be re-hosted, retired, or revised based on current objects and evaluate the wellness of platforms in real-time, using data to determine if initiatives are on track.
Today's enterprise architect is no longer operating in a silo, they need to be seen as a valuable team player who contributes and collaborates across the entire enterprise. Holistic input and varied expertise will benefit the boardroom and enterprise architects effectively represent operations to this council of decision-making, in such a way earning a rightful place at the table. Using a common language will gain the buy-in of the value of the enterprise architecture and will increase the expertise of the board members with the high value of data delivered in a clear manner of its initiatives.
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