As a strong believer in the potential of Enterprise Architecture, I’m very disappointed at its inability to get serious traction as a discipline and thus as a career field. Imagine if we had EA at the kind of level of maturity where you had essentially “licensed” practitioners you could tap to, say, work on major challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic response. But we don’t. In this regard, EA is following much the same glide path as KM (Knowledge Management) – those who “get” KM done well can’t imagine why every organization would not want to invest in it as a core capability.
But the low maturity of the discipline and therefore the lack of a KM career path, as with EA, means that the demand is not explicitly there in most organizations for a Lead KM role. It’s interesting to note that Systems Engineering, which hasn’t been nicknamed as SE (my initials!), has a much stronger footing overall, but pretty much exclusively in technical organizations. On the other hand, whereas EA and KM implementation and mastery could have possibly become deemed as essential to most organizations with any kind of significant footprint, this is not the case in 2021 and our struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored our shortcomings in these areas.
Imagine if we had a mature EA discipline and cadres of strongly accredited Enterprise Architects to tap when the pandemic floored us! We could have done what EA can best offer: better-informed decisions faster for targeted, scalable, incrementally added value in organizing global, national, regional, state, local, and site-specific roles and activities vis-à-vis the pandemic response. However, lacking a solid and mature EA capability, the world has suffered a lot more than it needed to.
That noted, it is extremely difficult to establish and nurture something like EA that could be so valuable for better decision making through more thoughtful and engaged connections, communications, and collaborations in the context of the pandemic. Going back to the KM comparison, though, KM has had some extremely visible and persuasive thought leaders (https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/kmthoughtleaders), whereas EA lacks them. John Zachman has the most name recognition, but too few people realize the damage that his (in my opinion) shallow, under-developed approach, hidden by his zealous salesmanship or “marketechture,”has done.
It is not too late for EA to make a much larger contribution in so many areas, especially if it is seen more as “Ecosystem Architecture,” emphasizing context for its use, instead of the limiting “Enterprise Architecture” scoping concept. Within the context of the global pandemic, for example, Digital Healthcare Architects would be in high demand if some persuasive thought leaders could take on the challenge to contribute to EA in this fashion.
Authored by Dr. Steve Else, Chief Architect & Principal Instructor