There are endless specializations in modern information tech – everything from clouds and servers to software, efficiencies, security, and more. All these different areas have to work together in tandem to create digital spaces that enhance our workflows in meaningful ways.
But how does this digital work translate to the real world? Who interprets a business strategy, with tangible goals and metrics, and aligns it with the much more abstract and customizable IT landscape? That job falls to an important but often overlooked person, the enterprise architect.
What is an Enterprise Architect?
An enterprise architect is the person ultimately responsible for aligning an organization's business strategy and objectives with its IT strategy and capabilities. The role involves designing and managing the structure of an organization's IT systems and technology infrastructure, ensuring they effectively support the overall business goals. In essence, they get everything pushing in the same direction from all areas of a company.
What Does an Enterprise Architect Do?
The role of an enterprise architect involves multiple short- and long-term responsibilities that range from daily operations to overarching, high-level strategic decisions. Typically, here’s what their core competencies and tasks would include:
Understanding Business Objectives: Enterprise architects work closely with business leaders to understand goals, objectives, and processes. This provides insight into the current state of the business and identifying areas where technology can provide strategic advantages.
Developing IT Strategies: Based on a thorough understanding of the business, enterprise architects contribute to the development of the organization's IT strategy, outlining how technology can be leveraged to support and enhance the way forward.
Architecture Design: Enterprise architects often play a role in designing the overall structure and framework of the organization's IT systems. This includes defining standards, protocols, and best practices for technology solutions to ensure consistency, interoperability, and scalability as a company grows.
Technology Evaluation and Selection: These architects evaluate emerging technologies and assess their suitability for the organization. They help in selecting the right tools, platforms, and solutions that align with business goals and fit into the existing IT architecture. This is an ongoing process, as new tools and software are emerging all the time.
Creating and Maintaining Architecture Documentation: In partnership with other IT positions, enterprise architects create and maintain comprehensive documentation of the IT architecture. This serves as a reference for stakeholders and provides a clear understanding of how different components of the IT ecosystem interact.
Collaboration with Stakeholders: Enterprise architects work with various stakeholders throughout the life cycle of strategic phases, including business leaders, IT teams, project managers, and vendors. Effective communication and collaboration are crucial to ensuring that the IT architecture aligns with the needs of the organization.
Ensuring Compliance and Security: Along with security architects, enterprise architects may find themselves responsible for ensuring that IT initiatives comply with industry regulations and internal policies in the pursuit of strategy. They may also assist with designing and implementing security measures to protect data and infrastructure.
Technology Roadmapping: Enterprise architects develop technology roadmaps that outline the evolution of the IT landscape over the years to come. In turn, these guide investment decisions and ensure that the organization remains adaptable to technological changes and other forces.
Risk Management: These architects may identify and mitigate risks associated with technology decisions. This includes assessing the impact of changes, evaluating potential vulnerabilities, and implementing strategies to minimize risks during strategic pushes.
Change Management: In implementing changes to the IT environment, enterprise architects work to ensure that such changes are implemented smoothly with minimal business disruptions.
Enterprise Architects vs. Other IT Roles
As we mentioned before, there are a lot of specializations within the world of business and IT. Here’s how some of the biggest roles differ from enterprise architects:
Cloud architects design and implement cloud solutions tailored to an organization's needs. Their responsibilities encompass selecting suitable cloud services, creating scalable and secure environments, optimizing resource usage, and aligning solutions with business goals. Their primary focus lies in cloud technologies such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
Data architects oversee the organization's valuable data assets, ensuring integrity, security, and supporting analytics. Their tasks include designing data models, establishing governance frameworks, defining standards, and ensuring quality and integration. They focus on databases, data warehousing, and overall data management.
Software architects design and oversee software development for specific business needs. Their tasks include defining architecture, selecting technologies, and ensuring scalability and reliability. They concentrate on software design principles, coding standards, and technology stack selection.
Network architects design and execute organizational network infrastructure for efficient communication. They plan network layouts, select equipment, optimize performance, and ensure security. Their primary focus is on designing and managing networking components like routers, switches, and protocols.
Solutions architects create comprehensive solutions for specific needs. They collaborate with stakeholders to ensure the right functionality. With a broader scope than software or cloud architects, their role involves integrating multiple technologies to address specific business challenges.
Security architects ensure the cybersecurity of an organization's IT systems, networks, and data against cyber threats. Their responsibilities include designing and implementing security measures, defining policies, conducting risk assessments, and ensuring compliance with security standards.
Information architects specialize in organizing data for better accessibility and usability. They design systems, create data models, and establish standards for consistency. Focused on optimizing data processes, they align structures with business goals for informed decision-making and efficient knowledge management.
Is Enterprise Architect a Good Career?
Enterprise architecture can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice if you’re the type to enjoy both sides of strategy and technology. It’s also a relatively safe and in-demand career path, as people with the right skills can be hard to find.
Consider the following if you’re thinking about becoming one:
The more you enjoy strategic thinking, designing complex systems, and influencing long-term organizational decisions, the more satisfied you’ll be in the role.
Enterprise architects need a diverse skill set that includes technical knowledge, business acumen, communication skills, and leadership abilities. If you love tech but hate tedious board meetings, it may not be right for you.
This is usually a senior-level position that can lead to C-suite placements like Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Staying on top of the tech world is crucial when it’s always evolving. So if you enjoy continuous learning and keeping up with trends, this could be a good fit.
However, there are flip sides to these benefits as well. Wannabe enterprise architects must first get advanced degrees and then build up years of experience within suitable business environments. They deal with complex systems and shoulder a lot of responsibility for their operation, which can be challenging – especially on teams with different ability levels.
Skills Required to be an Enterprise Architect
Enterprise architects often work at a strategic level, helping organizations plan and implement technology solutions that drive business success. They need to have a deep understanding of both business and technology and possess strong communication and leadership skills to effectively work with diverse stakeholders across the organization.
Interested in becoming one yourself? Here are some of the biggest skills to have if you hope to succeed:
Technical proficiency in IT systems and modern digital infrastructures
A background in business as well as in the IT field (usually 7 years of analysis experience, in addition to a degree in Comp Sci, IT, or related field)
A grasp of industry and tech trends
Good communication and collaboration skills
The ability to manage time, projects, and people well
Good analytical and problem-solving skills
An understanding of legal requirements, best practices, and compliance guidelines
A willingness to constantly upgrade and adapt tools, or change tactics if something is not working
The ability to document processes, information, and other data for others to follow
The ability to validate, refine, and expand models, as well as monitor and manage the architecture in use
Hiring the Best Enterprise Architects
If you’re on the hiring side and you’re looking for an enterprise architect, you may not even know what the best assessment tools are. This would include both technical and soft skills, starting with their qualifications and work experience, prior history in leadership roles, and the depth of their involvement in strategic planning. For technical assessments, it’s a good idea to request a portfolio showing a candidate's architecture design and implementation projects.
In personal interviews, you can gauge interpersonal skills, problem-solving and analytical skills, collaboration methods, and their ability to make and stand by decisions. Always do reference checks to validate their experience and qualifications. Last but not least, it’s vital to also consider cultural fit within the organization and ensure that the right candidate feels “at home” in the role.
Recruiting Enterprise Architects
If you’re filling a spot for one of the architect roles mentioned here, or anything else within the IT space, Talint Solutions is here to help. We have a deep understanding of what it takes to succeed in IT and business, and our tailored approach ensures that you get the candidates you need to do just that. Don’t leave your strategic objectives up to chance – to get the best enterprise architects on your team, contact Talint Solutions today!