The Enterprise Architect

Introduction to the Research

The market changes and expectations of various organizations have appeared in recent years to be more volatile and unpredictable. The business domain is highlighting the need for agility and rapid alignment with the new requirements while the Information Technology (IT) domain is considered weak in reacting on the new necessities of the business. Today’s organizations are both dependent on IT from the traditional perspective, i.e. delivering systems and tools to store, calculate and distribute information within the organization and between organizations; and as an enabler for the forthcoming business in rewriting the organizational history for the future to come. Lacity (2012) interviewed Professor Leslie Willcocks at the London School of Economics collaborating with the Everest Group and Accenture in a research initiative on this topic: “According to our research, one of the keys to the kingdom of high-performance in business process outsourcing is “Technology as a Business Enabler.” Whose technology – and enabler of what? We’re talking about technology deployed by a business process outsourcing provider to enable a client business services organization to deliver better service, at lower costs, with tighter controls.” (p.1)

A Retrospective Perspective on why Enterprise Architecture is Important

The retrospective perspective on organizational development is essential to comprehend in justifying the movement of Enterprise Architecture. Almost all organizations have historically experienced complexity, close to the tiny borderline between success and failure. The traditional organization and its management have for centuries and decades being structure to deal with transparency in monitoring and to gain control of the local organization (Burnes, 2009). The traditional organization is regularly built on certain functions, and its structure is inscribed in the business’ physical design, e.g. its confined manufacturing plant (Andersson & Olsson, 2007). One of the major challenges emerging is that this structure no longer is local or obvious, nor controllable by the traditional governance. The appearance of globalization is evolving, characterized by: increased complexity for management; increased number of interconnections, involving cultures and member groups; and incoherent change and transitions (Parker, 2005). The impact of globalization of the human life will affect almost every organization and individual, independently if private or public (Baines & Ursah, 2009; Makhlouf, 2014). Derived from the concurrent IT movements and surrounding factors, the virtualization of business processes (Oshri et al., 2009), human communication (Carr, 2013; Messier, 2014), and computerization of information (Savill et al., 2014), valuing legal or regulatory aspects (Varella, 2014) are nowadays far away from the traditional organization where most business processes were conducted in-house (by employees, in control and governed by the firm).  The majority of the employees communicated internally only, and the majority of the information remained within the firm. In the modern organization, there is a certain need for stability about the overall business map and its design to develop in a mode of efficiency and sustainability (Adler et al., 1999). However, the sudden changes and rapid movements on the market for the organization, induce the necessity for acting rapidly to correspond to these changes, which address the need for an agile structure (Heisterberg & Verma, 2014) and a flexible organization (Sushil & Stohr, 2014). The organization has emerged the state of becoming ambidextrous (Duncan, 1976): there is a necessity to strategically, tactically and operationally to deal with dual challenges. During the organizational life cycle, different challenges are approaching. Consequently, the organizational management has to be exchanged to cope with the new circumstances (Burnes, 2009). Nonetheless, the organizational, structural and technical knowledge of the organization has to some extent to be understood and inherited by the management teams to come (North et al., 2004). It is from this retrospective perspective EA is emerging.

The Enterprise Architect Profession

In this emerging role, the Enterprise Architect is a valuable player to deal with the forthcoming challenges to reinforce the strategic organizational capability, originated from the Information System (IS)/IT domain while founded in a multi-disciplinary context: Firstly, in this context, Enterprise Architecture (EA) is determined to play a significant role to align the business requirements (Chan, 2002), derived from the market, where the IT domain is to support the new expectations (from the market) within a reasonable time (Zeid, 2014). EA will become strategic for the organization, only if IT is considered as strategic to the organization (Wagter et al., 2005). In this state, there is a request for the guiding role in an organization with an intent to deal with these topics, which in turn requests for ratifying the establishment of the role (CAEAP, 2012). Secondly, nonetheless, most organizations are expected to cut costs on operations where especially the IT cost cutting has become predominant (Harris, 2004). In this setting, the extrinsic perspective on “doing the right things”, is highlighted and the EA is anticipated to deliver the map of options obtainable (Berg van den & Vliet van, 2014). Thirdly, significant challenges are prevalent for many organizations in the close future, especially in the IT domain to deal with the increasing demand for mobility both on devices (Hanseth & Nielsen, 2013), and for virtualization of the server/service provider (Rathod & Townsend, 2014); interacting applications and individuals, such as social-networking (Moon, 2014) and business value creation through co-creation (Ind & Coates, 2013); cloud computing (Hill, 2013); and the big-data stream (Davenport, 2014)). Fourthly, globalization will most likely speed-up both in the business domain, linking requirements from different markets, sharing data between actors in a value-chain (Rivard et al., 2010). In this light, the Enterprise Architect is revealed to handle at least three disciplines: the business, the IS/IT and the social interactions between humans involved in these processes, such as the socio-technical settings, collaboration, and co-creation. For the authors, as practitioners in the IT business for years, of this study - our work assignments frequently reveal the importance of a good architecture, comprising the cost effects from a disordered architecture. While several EA projects fail (Roeleven & Broer, 2009), other transformation projects are struggling (Beer et al., 1990), the reason behind might be several (Simon, 2011). Our conviction is that EA is to be a harmony between a good and proper understanding of both the business domain and the IT domain, and that there is a good balance between the two (Magoulas & Pessi, 1998). EA should be seen as primarily proactive in its approach rather than reactive to historical events (Nsubuga et al., 2014). Architectural goodness (Lynch, 1981) is to be evaluated for the organization in focus; the architectural principles (Haki & Legner, 2013) as well as architectural patterns are to be determined and implemented in the organization (Cloutier et al., 2010; Raj, 2013). Our belief is that EA is not self-generated, since the aim for a range of organizational expectations will be accomplished by humans and not by the technology itself. At this glance, the Enterprise Architects are the ones who will form and develop the EA for a certain organization. By this reason, our interest is focused on the Enterprise Architects as humans, and this profession’s ambition to develop the EA.

Motivation for this Study

The purpose of this study is to characterize the Enterprise Architect as a profession. Who are these people? Which competencies are prevalent for these roles? Since most organizations are not expected to occupy a herd of Enterprise Architects (more likely quite a few), the competencies of the people engaged are fairly important. Our interest will cover if these competencies will correspond to the expectations of the future organization described above. In addition, our curiosity will involve not the competence only, but also the assignment for the Enterprise Architects. The architects might have the accurate competence for the Enterprise architectural role; nevertheless, both their long-term assignment may deviate on a day-to- day level from the sound development. If so, the enterprise’s architecture will develop differently to what is expected to meet the above expectations. The excessive width of the Enterprise Architect is described as a multifaceted profession that might be perceived by studying job postings submitted by organizations searching for Enterprise Architects to employ. By reviewing job postings, it is quite evident that this profession is defined relatively diverse concerning job descriptions, competency profiles, and responsibilities. In addition, the job postings’ description of the Enterprise Architect’s profession is not always consistent with the portrayals the academic publications provide regarding this profession. There are several research available, focusing the field of EA in general, such as EA framework (Leist & Zellner, 2006), maturity of business-IT alignment (Luftman, 2000) and EA alignment (Pereira & Sousa, 2005). Some studies focus primarily on the Enterprise Architect in particular e.g. the Enterprise Architect role in the context of city planning metaphor (Bolles, 2004), the Enterprise Architect and information management (Helfert et al., 2013) and the changing role of the Enterprise Architect role (Gøtze, 2013). Furthermore, some studies focus on more specific characteristics of the profession such as competencies and responsibilities of the Enterprise Architect (Steghuis & Proper, 2008), the role of the Enterprise Architect (Strano & Rehmani, 2007), responsibilities (Unde, 2008), proactive style of acting (Nsubuga et al., 2014) and mindset orientation (Aerts et al., 2003). So far, we have not found much of a corresponding research, notwithstanding there are some empirical studies available such as Strano & Rehmani (2007) who examined the role of the Enterprise Architect using selected individual interviews, and Steghuis & Proper (2008) conducted a study focusing on the competence by surveying Enterprise Architects in an appointed business. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to a current state of the art of this profession, and concentrate accordingly on the Enterprise Architect profession as a compilation of the topics: role, competence, power, style of acting and main focus, where the study is based on both empirically collected data from interviews with senior professionals working within an Enterprise Architectural function and a literature survey of the very same academic field. The contribution of this study is to provide a richer profiling of the profession as Enterprise Architect, based on empirical data.

Research Purpose and Question

The introduction chapter is intended to describe the importance of Enterprise Architecture (EA) for the contemporary organization, where the EA is considered more important in the future than in the past. Since EA is built by humans’ intellectual work, we believe there is an importance to depicture what an Enterprise Architect do at work in the field of EA to establish and maintain EA for their organization. This study attempts to examine how the Enterprise Architects operate within their profession through empirical studies and to set this picture in relation to how the profession is described in the academic literature. The purpose of this study is to broaden the knowledge base regarding the Enterprise Architect profession and provide an understanding about the profession's context today and to position the architect within its working environment. This research aims to fill the research gap consisting of the fact that few academic research are based on empirical studies; they are rather often based on the results by dedicated academic observations only. This thesis research questions reads: What characterizes an Enterprise Architect’s profession, and what is the profession’s main ambition? How does academic research differ from an empirical based view with respect to the topics role, competence, power, style of acting and main focus?

Introduction to A Profession as Enterprise Architect

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