Why Business Architects Should Operate Outside EA

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Author(s)

Enterprise Business Architect, Wells Fargo & Company
Andrew Guitarte is a Digital Business Architect Leader and Management Consultant with 29+ years of work experience in the financial, IT, government, and small business industries in the US and Asia. Mr. Guitarte is the founding Chairman of Business Architecture Society based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As an avid sportsman, he equips “corporate athletes” to make a difference in the workplace through his company, Enduraman Corporation. Mr. Guitarte is an Adjunct Professor and Doctoral Candidate in Business Administration at Golden Gate University.

I’d like to make the case why business architects should operate outside of enterprise architecture (EA).

First, business architects are “big thinkers” and more business savvy than their EA counterparts.  Their cultures clash.  No matter how much EAs cast themselves as strategic thinkers, trusted advisors, or business partners there still seems a stigma that EA is only all about IT.  This stigma stuck for decades and may help explain why IT-oriented EAs attracted only their kind.  Meanwhile, recent converts to business architecture possess a distinct left- and right-brained aptitude for stating holistic viewpoints that are rigorous, well-understood, and fact-based.  Some of them are ex-product managers, ex-business analysts, ex-sales, ex-entrepreneur, or simply ex-EAs or ex-IT pros who recently earned their MBAs and a light bulb went on, so to speak. 

I had my own epiphany when I started taking a doctorate in business administration.  It was clear to me that the future of business is the melding of business and technology.  My computer science background taught me the logic and rigor behind the scientific method of inquiry.  But my humanities and actual business management exposure revealed a lot about what really matters to a business owner and the customers.  If I can analyze what’s truly important for the organization and its customers and translate that into something that a CEO, manager, politician, civil servant, or parent can use to benefit the greater good, then I’m happy.  If this is what you call doing business architecture, then I’m a happy business architect.

As a result business architects have had this unique window of opportunity to project themselves as operating on the side of the owners, shareholders, line-of-business executives, operations managers, and most importantly, the customers.  So far, business architects have not squandered this most desirable first impression.  They better not else they fall in the same bucket as the EAs a mere decade or two down the road.

Talking about customers and their needs and wants, business architects do a better job of capturing these and churning insights that the CEO and his cohort can act on to produce business outcomes.  That’s the second reason why business architects should operate outside of EA.  Business architects are more responsive to business needs because they’re closer to the ones who own those needs.  EAs on the other hand are much farther from the owner or customer since IT governance seems to be the only thing that fuels their passion.  This is unfortunate since I believe EAs did not start out with this one-sided view of running a business.  It’s an important task but it’s more of a “back-end” task compared to what business architects do on a daily basis.

This brings me to a sobering conclusion.  An organization that wants to quickly sense and respond to the changing needs and wants of customers and employees alike need business architects.  But the organization needs to nurture and grow business architects outside of the traditional IT-oriented EA organization.  The trend points in this direction.  Momentum is on the side of business architects as the allies of the C-level suite, customer advocates, and the only credible in-house trusted advisors.  Let’s just hope that we don’t waste this wonderful fiat.

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