10 years, 6 months ago

Quarterly Blog Post (2013 Q4)

This is the first of a quarterly blog on the evolution of the enterprise architecture profession.  In this installment, I will give you an idea of the types of topics I intend to discuss over time.  More about me at:  http://ea.ist.psu.edu/cameron.php and more about the center at http://ea.ist.psu.edu

One of the main goals of FEAPO is to assist in the evolution of EA into a “real profession” (on par with established professions such as accounting and engineering).  We have quite a way to go before either of these goals is achieved.  I am going to spend a lot of time on the evolution of the profession in future posts.

Recently I was asked to speak to a group of EA professionals at Microsoft and discussed some of the major milestones that I believe we need to have in place as part of the evolution of EA in a “real profession”.  My presentation was very well received and I’d like to share the main points and expand on these points in later posts.

Some of the main items that I feel are needed to help EA become a “real profession” include:

  • Internationally Recognized “Accrediting” Body
  • Commonly Accepted Definition/Perspective of EA
  • Commonly Accepted Career Path Structure and Associated Competency Sets
  • Certifications and Degrees that Map to the Career Path Structure
  • Commonly Accepted Body of Knowledge that Supports the Career Path Structure  (BOK)
  • Model Academic Curriculum (Undergraduate and Graduate)
  • A Commonly Embraced Roadmap for the Future of the Profession
  • Creation of an Academic Research Community

I will address each of these briefly in this installment and will drill down into more detail in future posts.  I have done many presentations all over the globe on variations of the bullet points above and typically get one of two responses. The first (and most common) response is, “Yes!  How can I get involved?” and the second (and luckily less common) is one of cynicism and the response is typically something like “I’ve tried all of this before and you’ll never get this industry to agree on much – good luck”.   The people that fall into the second group only hold this profession back in my opinion.  I’m sure that some people don’t want EA to progress beyond its current state and will explain the reasons why in future installments.  I will also explain how we are organizing efforts through FEAPO to address many of the items above and more over time.

The current state of EA is very fragmented in my opinion with many groups claiming to represent the profession as a whole or parts of the profession (data architecture, software architecture, business architecture, etc.).  I will explore this fragmentation and the need to come together and put more of a “one face” to this profession in future installments.

There are many organizations offering certifications as well.  Some universities are starting to offer EA courses.  One of the issues with the certifications and courses is that currently we can put “Enterprise Architecture” on just about anything we want and there is no recognized body to say whether the certification or course is good, bad, or somewhere in the middle.  I talk with many companies and often hear about the confusion (and frustration) that many people feel toward the many certifications and organizations in this field.  Many larger companies offer their own internal EA certifications because of this fragmentation and confusion but what does being a Bronze Level or Level 2 Enterprise Architect from Company X or Y really mean?

At Penn State we formed a large advisory group consisting of leading corporations, government bodies and industry associations to help us define the competencies that we should be building in our programs.  We currently have over 70 organizations from seven countries involved.   We took this approach to get as much cross industry input into our programs as possible since no model curriculum or academic accrediting body exists for EA at present.    Also, there is no organized academic research community for enterprise architecture which greatly hampers wide spread recognition and adoption in large research universities – more on this in the future.

I believe that I have hit all of the bullet points above either directly or indirectly except for the point on a commonly embraced roadmap for the future of the profession.  This bullet is poorly worded and what I’m trying to get at is the need for a common vision on where EA is going as a profession.  I talk with many people that believe that EA needs to become “true” Enterprise Architecture and not just Enterprise IT Architecture as it has been traditionally practiced in many organizations.  I call this “Big E” Enterprise Architecture where we’re doing EA across the enterprise and not solely in the IT organization.  These same people then go on to say that if the goal is “Big E” then EA needs to reside outside of IT, perhaps under Strategic Planning.  I know of a few organizations that are considering this type of move for EA.  I will discuss this and other possible paths for EA (and the challenges that might inhibit these moves) in future posts as well.  Lots to discuss and explore and I’m looking forward to advancing this discussion over time.