Innovation is not just a buzzword. It is a real and dynamic entity that is both redefining and accelerating business in a highly competitive world.
According to the OECD, 55% of companies currently on the Fortune 500 list will not make the cut by 2025. With legacy companies making digital strides and new technologies constantly being developed, companies cannot afford to dismiss innovation.
This raises an important question: who within the company is going to effectively guide innovation efforts and ensure that the company keeps its innovative edge?
The answer: enterprise architects.
Pursuing innovation is a strategic choice with technical follow-through. It is therefore up to the enterprise architects — with one foot in the business side of the company and the other in IT — to play a larger role in advocating for and implementing enterprise innovation efforts.
The Increasing Influence of Enterprise Architects
Technology is improving at an exponential rate, which puts increasing pressure on enterprise architects to bridge the gap between IT solutions and business strategies.
Even if an enterprise is able to achieve innovation in one department, fragmentation among departments can prevent the successful implementation of innovation.
As innovation becomes increasingly necessary, the role of enterprise architect continues to evolve and gain influence.
In the past, one-time projects defined the enterprise architect’s workflow, such as uniting different departments with a common CRM or other software programs.
While such projects were always important, they weren’t necessarily time-sensitive. They were based on improving internal processes rather than racing against the innovation clock to try to stay ahead of the competition.
Today, enterprise architects need to be proactive. Taking a reactive approach is no longer viable in today’s cut-throat environment where disruptive innovation can topple long-standing industry giants.
Getting Everyone on Board with Innovation
It also falls on the enterprise architect to communicate the value of innovation throughout the entire business. Some departments may not immediately see the value of a particular innovation and show resistance in response.
As the person who understands the motivations, KPIs and goals of both business and technical departments, the enterprise architect needs to be the one to advocate for the good of the entire company and get everyone on board.
Rallying resistant departments around the importance of innovation is no easy feat, but it is critical to ensuring the successful implementation of new products, processes and other innovations.
A fast-paced world requires taking a longer view rather than addressing issues as they arise.
Now more than ever it is up to the enterprise architect to have a solid understanding of the latest technology and be able to make informed decisions about what connections need to be made and what players need to be involved to effectively execute plans and meet objectives.
Legitimizing the Profession
As a clear signal that the role of enterprise architect is increasingly important, certification programs for the profession are on the rise.
Carnegie Mellon, Open Group and other organizations are working to standardize the role and define a certain required skill set.
On the other hand, some experts argue that you cannot build a certification for a role that has such rapidly changing responsibilities.
How to Be a Successful Enterprise Architect
Enterprise architects play a pivotal role in large companies, and it is by no means an easy one.
It requires proficiency in a wide range of technical areas along with excellent strategic thinking, problem-solving and communication skills.
You have to be able to understand the technology and make tough decisions that prioritize strategies while also working to unite the company so that everyone is working toward the greater good.
Perhaps more than anything, success hinges on the ability to continue to learn and seek out new knowledge. Driving innovation within an enterprise means using the power of data and analytics while also staying on top of trends and emerging technology.