Is "Enterprise Architecture" a misnomer?

Monday, March 9, 2009 |

The role of an Enterprise Architect will continue to evolve as more and more technology and business leaders can buy into the value proposition of EA. As our duties evolve, their resemblance to architecture seems to erode - it's not about design as much as it is about design stewardship. It's not about technology as much as it is about people and financial management and strategic alignment.

While we can quibble over how many mature EA organizations really exist, the further we go on the evolutionary path of this discipline, the more it starts resembling a financial advisory model. Consider:

  • We diagnose organizational behavior;
  • We tailor our recommendations based on organizational risk tolerance;
  • We build our road maps based on gaps in business and technical capabilities
  • And we dutifully (if not in a fiduciary capacity) watch over the implementations, riding the emotional roller coaster with our organizations.

In short, the behavior of EA is most like a financial manager with a client that is investing substantial resources on an annual basis with a few well-defined exceptions: our basic indicators happen to follow Gartner Hype Cycle curve and the technical description of the assets and capabilities we manage cannot be described by tangible asset valuation alone. Of course, given what we've seen in the secondary mortgage market lately, neither could regular financial instruments.

So, a modest proposal - let's retire "Enterprise Architecture" and replace it with "Technology Investment Management"!