The role of enterprise architects

This week I will not yet continue my Web 2.0 series, but rather respond to a comment on my last post. My claim that Web 2.0 needs architects, led to a comment/question:

Especially the phrase 'of course' caught my attention. Why do you think enterprise-architects should already be involved this early on in the process? Is strategy in their domain too? I would be very interested in seeing a post why you feel enterprise architects add value to an organization, and what you feel should be part of their responsibilities. If you make me really happy, please address the role of enterprise architecture in relation to the effectiveness and efficiency of information security controls.

Which was a direct response to my statement: "This actually triggered me into realising that the Web 2.0 needs information architects. Of course, when an enterprise considers utilizing Web 2.0 technologies an enterprise architect should be involved in deciding-on/designing the best way of doing this."

In line with my earlier blog on three perspectives on architecture, we regard enterprise architecture to be: "a coherent whole of a design-oriented, a regulation-oriented and a pattern-oriented perspective on an enterprise, providing indicators and controls enabling the informed governance of the enterprise’s evolution and success". The we in this case refers to the consortium of Capgemini and Radboud University Nijmegen offering the Master of Enterprise Architecture program. We position architecture between strategy and transformation programs endeavouring to realise the strategy. This is based on the believe that present day organisations are confronted with socio-economical and technological challenges that require an abstract means of steering the transformation of enterprises, that offers more specificity than a strategy can offer. As such, enterprise architecture is a tool or means to support strategy formulation, planning and transformation execution. It enables informed decision-making, planning and governance of the transformation execution. As a means it can be used: within strategic business/IT planning; to align strategic objectives and IT; to define and guide large scale business IT/transformation; to structure organisation re-engineering; to enable design of organizational networks (shared service centres, BPO, etc.); to define and monitor IT programs.

Going back to the original question "Why do you think enterprise-architects should already be involved this early on in the process? Is strategy in their domain too?": Architects should indeed be involved early on in the process. They are not responsible for the formulation of the strategy, but they can certainly aid in creating attainable strategies that play into the opportunities provided by the enterprise’s abilities (based on the insights of the enterprise’s architecture).

An enterprise architect clearly also has a role to play towards information security. More specifically, an architecture should provide insight into all sorts of risks as well as their potential impact. Those risks pertaining to security issues, and which have a high likelihood of occurring, can then be used to initiate further measures. These measures could be security principles that become part of the principles-oriented perspective of the architecture, or they could be operational security rules that will find their place among the business rules used in the operational enterprise. In short, an enterprise architect certainly has a role to play here. It is also no coincidence that the earlier mentioned Master course on Enterprise Architecture also features a subject on security and enterprise architecture.

Currently, we (the Capgemini/RUN consortium) are writing a book on the value and use of enterprise architecture, as well as the responsibility of architects. We expect to finish this book this summer.

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