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Business Expert vs. Enterprise Architect?

I finally have some time after TechEd ’06 Las Vegas, and my first order of business is to write my two cents worth about what I think of enterprise architect vs. business expert… As depicted in the diagram below:

Description of a Business Process Expert Role

The Assumption

Assumption for the role of Enterprise Architects in today’s world is “just enabling” technology and the role of future Business Expert is to increase business agility… I find this not only disturbing and alienating, but extremely short-sighted! My argument is – today’s Enterprise Architect is the pioneer Business Expert. Let me explain…

My Opinion

In an ideal world of unlimited resources, budgets, and open-ended projects, this model probably will hold true. Unfortunately, we do not live in the ideal world. Nowadays, IT/IS professionals are called to take on multiple roles within respective organizations. The best example of this trend is commoditization of a specific skill set. Pure technology skills are already obsolete and part of the outsourcing strategy for the lot of companies. My prediction: next wave will be pure business analyst skills. Virtual offices, email, broadband internet availability, and advance in telecom make communications more and more impersonal. Thus, what difference will it make where email or call came from? More and more traditional IT professionals (CS, CIS and MIS undergraduates) are joining MBA studies, and vice versa more and more traditional business folks ( BA, accounting, marketing, etc) are getting more technically adept… Most of my colleagues who identify themselves today as Enterprise Architects are in fact also identifying themselves as Business Experts. The days when technology dictated business needs are long gone; “just enabling” technology for the sake of technology will lead to further separation of business and IT.

As a technology professional I am bound to find the most efficient solutions to a given technological problem. More so, as EA I am bound to find the most efficient solution to a given business problem, which will ultimately benefit customer, company, and shareholder. Therefore, I must understand underlying the problem from the business perspective, before I can recommend any technological solution, and sometimes a solution to the underlying cause can be achieved without introduction of technology. So, how can I call myself Enterprise Architect, without being a Business Expert first?


In conclusion, I want to draw on another analogy. Structural architects do not pour concrete for the foundation of the building, or cut steel beams. However, any architect knows about concrete and available steel beams. In my line of reasoning, an architect is responsible not only for the esthetically pleasant design, but also for the structural integrity of the designed building… So how is an Enterprise Architect different from a Structural Architect? Frankly, I do not see the difference…

Description of a Business Process Expert Role
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