Enterprise Architecture: Business and Technology sides of the fence

At the March 2010 Enterprise Architecture Symposium in Toronto, there was much discussion of what it means to be an Enterprise Architect.

Is this an Information Technology-focused discipline?  Scott Ambler said in his keynote that an enterprise architect will only be respected if they can code!

The EA discipline is in fact an outgrowth of IT.  Technical people realized that using common technologies across the enterprise can save money & reduce risk.  Technical people also realized that they need to know business requirements, not just at system-project level but at the enterprise-strategy level.

But just because technical people can describe the business and its strategy doesn’t mean they are being asked to decide the strategy.

Architects often wish to be on the business side of the organization, not part of the IT department, so they can be more influential.  Business managers may perceive this as an attempted power grab, by people who often don’t know or understand all the business issues, but who can certainly make things look complicated and arcane.

I do believe that we business and information architects should be on the business side.  We should be tasked with describing the business rigorously, and recommending ways to optimize it.  We can use many formal techniques, not just the Architecture toolbox.  We should have some business experience, not just technical knowledge.

I also believe that the IT department should retain its application, technology, solution and security architects.  These senior technical people should describe the technology environment rigorously, and recommend ways to optimize technology across the enterprise.  And yes I think these people should have programming (or other technical) experience!