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Why a business architect could save your company

Rob Enderle | Sept. 14, 2015
A number of firms are contemplating the advantages of developing the business architect role. The goal of this position would be to connect IT to the business strategically. Columnist Rob Enderle looks at the benefits and challenges of doing this job right.

To do the job right, the business architect would need the authority to block bad decisions that were not strategic. In addition, they would have to be allowed to drive decisions to acquire things long before it was obvious to anyone else in the firm that they were needed to assure these resources were available in a timely manner.

The only other person in the firm with this kind of breadth is the CEO. Therefore, this job would be an excellent CEO training position that could be done by one or more CEO Aids. But CEOs typically don’t like to create one or more positions that could replace them and the breadth of skills needed don’t really exist in depth. The closest is an MBA, but that degree often lacks the depth needed in IT, any coverage of facilities and the core concept of strategic company design. This idea of creating an evolving model of what the company will need to look like years in the future just isn’t something that is taught and this job would need that skill set in order to function.  

The ‘Don’t Do Something Stupid Department’

On and off for over a decade I’ve floated the concept of a “Don’t Do Something Stupid Department.”   I floated this because I regularly see firms doing incredibly stupid things that result in massive avoidable problems. These stupid moves generally result from a combination of an unwillingness to tell an executive that their decision is stupid, which is generally career limiting, and an inability to put strategic decisions ahead of tactical ones.

We also do a crappy job of preparing people to be CEOs. The concept of a business architect could address both problems by positioning a well-informed and trained executive in a position to assure decisions are strategic and smart. This positioning would afford them the opportunity to develop the skills needed to become CEO.

If the job emerges it could change companies as we know them, making sure the person has the right skills and authority will be the challenge.


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