The traditional role of enterprise architects has been to enable business, an approach rendered impractical for many companies by the increasingly fast pace of business markets. Without targeting quick IT results – and without clear communication from business executives – architects produce large-scale but largely unhelpful business capabilities. As a result, many companies find their architecture initiatives underutilized and their money wasted. SearchSOA’s Jack Vaughan spoke to Jeanne Ross, Director and Principal Research Scientist at the Center for, Information Systems Research (CISR) at the MIT Sloan School of Management, about these and other issues.
According to Ross, architects need to shift their approach in order to avoid wasting money. “[Architects] should stop saying, ‘Our goal is to enable,’ because there is insufficient business value that comes from saying, ‘We’re going to enable business,'” she said.
Read the interview with MIT's Ross:
“There’s an assumption that architects get to hand this stuff off – ‘We built capabilities; now it’s your job.’” That assumption, Ross noted, has led to a lack of follow through. IT builds large-scale, sophisticated systems – but their capabilities go unused. “What we need to understand as architects, if we really want these capabilities to be exploited, is that we have to take on a lot more responsibility for the exploitation piece,” she explained. Ross discussed these issues this week when she keynoted The Open Group Conference in San Francisco.
Another piece to the puzzle is that large-scale capabilities can’t keep up with the pace of changing business needs. Instead, architects need to build capabilities incrementally, starting small to respond to the moment and focus on fast results.
Building business capabilities piece by piece gives architects the knowledge and flexibility to decide what the best – and fastest – next steps are. “That’s the real difference,” said Ross. “It’s not that architects start exploiting. It’s that they start thinking about what could be exploited quickly – that’s what we’ll deliver even as we understand we want to build towards major capabilities.”
What are your thoughts? Let us know.
This was first published in February 2012