7 things CIOs need to know about enterprise architects

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If I were to sit down with a new CIO who wanted to know what an enterprise architect could do for them, here are a few things I would do.

1. I would stay away from technology speak and jargon and talk the true potential of an enterprise architecture (EA) program to deliver on real business results.

2. I would say that I see our primary role is to proactively drive positive change while developing the right responses to capitalize on disruption in our industry. This also means EA is about courage to go against the existing norms and the persistence to get others to believe in new approaches over what has always worked (but may not be working anymore).

3. I would note that we’re also focused on optimization and “connecting the dots.” If we are pursuing a model such as a "lean (store)," for example, I would ensure that a new technology is a fit for that lean store footprint. If we hear about the use of a technology in one area, we will connect the dots with 4-5 other areas in our company where it could also be applied for cost savings and efficiency.

4. I would make it clear that my team is not going to spend a lot of time spinning wheels on inventorying every nuance and the current state of our infrastructure. We will do enough discovery to make educated decisions.

5. I’d make it clear that our true role is to work with business and IT teams and really define common business targets then plan how we can make it happen. We’re also tasked with taking innovative new technology and coming up with a plan to apply that innovation to dominate the competition.

6. I’d make it clear that EA does not belong purely in the world of governance. Lets take that down to less than 20 percent of our role, in fact. The rest of it really is focused on driving change and optimizing.

7. Finally, I’d urge the CIO to see our relationship as a partnership with EA as trusted advisor. We will do everything in our power to build that trust and to aid in taking advantage of the rapid change that is happening in our industry.

In my opinion, if we can’t do these things then we’re just going to be following, and we’re not going to have any way to differentiate. That’s why it’s essential that the EA keep the CIO informed, so he or she can bring that message out into the organization and build on the education of how new processes and technology the company is using can impact our business and the world at large.

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Peter Buonora is a change agent driving alignment of business IT functions while evolving IT organizations from operational cost centers to a catalyst for competitive advantage. Peter’s extensive experience includes global technology strategy, architecture, cloud computing, and information security.  Peter currently works as Enterprise Architect at BJ’s Wholesale Club, was formerly Senior Global Enterprise Architect at Ahold Corporation, and has held positions at Supervalu, John Hancock and other companies.

Peter is a change agent driving alignment of business IT functions while evolving IT organizations from operational cost centers to a catalyst for competitive advantage.

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