Tech-savvy title moves in

A new title is emerging in Australia's IT landscape and will appear in technologically-savvy companies over the next two to three years.

It is the "enterprise architect" (EA), a role fusing an IT architect and business systems thinker to maximise cross-enterprise investments.

Alan Hansell, Gartner executive program director, said the new EA will have the ability to influence, persuade and win the support of key company executives in the development of business strategy.

"The EA role is needed to ensure an enterprise business strategy is reflected in IT infrastructure," Hansell said.

He said it is for each organisation to determine whether the EA acts in an advisory capacity to the CIO or independently, adding that CIOs and other executives are keenly interested in emerging roles, given the availability of IS options and architectural choices.

Gartner predicts organisations adopting an EA approach will realise a 30 per cent improvement in their operational ability to address constantly changing external drives.

While the EA is an emerging role in the world of IT, Hansell said it is one that has been recognised for many years and the advent of e-business has made it critical.

The yearly salaries EAs can expect average about $180,000; however, Hansell said he has seen "much much higher".

Zurich CIO Joe Deragon said his company already has an enterprise architect, and believes EAs will become part of Australian organisations in two to three years.

Whilst disagreeing that IT managers are "evolving" into the role of an EA, Deragon said IT managers are too buried in IT by choice, tradition or business inability to see the relationship.

"IT managers are usually working at operational level, while EAs are working at creating a strategy and the underlying cohesion that will make it work end-to-end across the business," Deragon said.

Deragon believes EAs should report to the CEO. Their emphasis would be less on operational areas like designing applications and managing resources or projects, while focusing on combined business and IT strategy and architecture as well as how the solution elements hang together through to the end-to-end business processes followed by implementation planning and transition.

Andrew Ogbourne, IT manager of Scholastic Australia, believes the role of an EA is "about half of an IT manager's role".

"The role of an EA has been part of an IT manager's job for a long time now, increasing over the last few years," Ogbourne said.

Srimal Abeysekera, manager information services at Macquarie Area Health Service, agrees with Ogbourne's sentiments, sayding IT managers are "evolving"' into the role of an EA.

"It is similar to the role of an IT manager. However, this [EA] requires a particular set of skills which would be peripheral to a typical IT manager's core studies. As an example, most IT managers come from computer studies, computer hardware or software engineering backgrounds. In an academic sense, an EA's role suits someone with an MBA majoring in information management," Abeysekera said.

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