What Does It Take to Become a Chief Enterprise Architect?

By Aaron Tan Dani

As we ushering in the year 2020, technology has a huge role in every aspect of businesses. In technology spending, big data, cloud computing and cybersecurity are the priority according to a study by Namura Holdings. With the emergence of new technology, businesses need professionals in information technology that can define the system’s architecture and support organisation’s IT strategy. Professionals that can immerse in technological challenges and achieve results that are consistent with company objectives and processes. These professionals are what we call enterprise architects.

Enterprise architecture is regarded as one of the key ways to achieving competitive advantage through information technology. There is a growing demand to reduce costs, increase flexibility, and regulate technology environments. Because of this, there has been an increase in enterprise architecture activity. Access to digital talent and capabilities will become increasingly critical to successful digital transformation projects over the next decade and the need to have someone to manage and oversee the digital transformation projects will also increase in demand. Existing Enterprise Architects can now make the decision to upskill and move forward in the systems and technology industry.

Figure 1: Enterprise Architecture Pyramid of Domains

The role of enterprise architect is dynamic and multifaceted. In digital transformation initiatives, enterprise architects are usually tasked with maintaining a strong knowledgebase of current and legacy IT technologies, as well as emerging technologies and other IT trends. Within the Enterprise Architecture team, the role could be anything from a Senior Enterprise Architect to a Solution Architect, to a Security Architect or Chief Enterprise Architect – all of which have different responsibilities. The focus of the chief enterprise architect’s role is to ensure that the business strategy, along with any relevant trends, is expressed in the enterprise’s processes and systems. A major goal of this role is to facilitate change in a way that maximizes its value and minimizes the associated difficulties.

What exactly does it take to level up from an Enterprise Architect to Chief Enterprise Architect?  First, understand the responsibility and critical function of a CEA to recognize a true Chief Enterprise Architect.

A CEA manages a department of Enterprise Architects to deliver the implementation of EA for the clients because IT plays a vital role in helping to implement critical effort initiatives, eg digital transformation. Chief EA develops strategy to ensure that EA consultancy maturity is improving based on the roadmap with the aim to satisfy internal stakeholders as well as external stakeholders without compromising on the practice of industry standards. Chief EA also governs the developed EA framework and provide higher-level technical oversight and guidance for IT initiatives.

There are critical functions of Chief Enterprise Architecture that need to be emphasized due to the fact that Enterprise architects are also responsible for identifying applicable technical standards to be followed on projects. In addition to their hard-technical skills, enterprise architects can be much more effective when they possess critical soft skills. These include leadership abilities, the ability to communicate clearly with all IT stakeholders, strong design skills in one or more IT silos, IT process knowledge and good interpersonal skills.

Most successful enterprise architects have a temperament where they are comfortable with uncertainty. This is because great enterprise architecture is about driving change, what you might call digital transformation.– Paul Preiss, Ceo & Founder of IASA

The demand for Enterprise Architects will continue to grow aligned with the technology industry and new and existing IT employees should grab hold of the opportunity in climbing the corporate ladder and moving into the executive suite of the business.

ATD Solution offers Enterprise Architecture Specialisation Skills, a discipline from which professional architects develop skills in designing business infrastructure and organisational structure informed by technology and business operations.

About Aaron Tan Dani

Aaron Tan Dani, Chief Architect of ATD Solution, President of the Singapore Computer Society EA-Chapter and Founder and Chairman of Iasa Asia Pacific