We have just finished day one at the Open Group Conference and the speakers have posed more interesting questions than they have answered. What role can we expect IT to play in the future of the enterprise? How can the enterprise architect govern an architecture that largely lies outside the firewall, in cloud services? Should the EA even try? What role will the business play in developing the architecture? That last question presents a sticky challenge, since most business people have only limited interest in “architecture,” and yet all the EA frameworks call for total engagement of the business in designing the target state.

In the old days, IT could shepherd the architectural process along, and needed only strong sponsorship from the business. But as the role of IT shrinks (as most of the speakers expect it to do), and businesses start to access cloud services without the intervention of the CIO, the enterprise architect of the future will need to sit inside a business group. To succeed in that role, the enterprise architect will have to redefine his or her mandate in business terms. How many CEOs believe, in the words of one conference speaker, that the “E” in CEO also stands for “Enterprise architect”? Probably not that many do. As Jeanne Ross, a leading voice in enterprise architecture put it, the enterprise architect will need to engage the business in defining its target capabilities. As long as the organization has the discipline to hold to that vision, the enterprise architect can deliver the right blend of business processes, cloud services, and IT architecture to enable those capabilities.

How exactly that will happen remains an important topic area for future Info-Tech research.

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