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How enterprise architects can gain influence with the CIO: Forrester

How enterprise architects can gain influence with the CIO: Forrester

Applying business architecture tools can really pay off, helping senterprise architects structure the conversation around the CIO's strategic vision.

The relationship between the CIO and the architects that work for them often lacks a clear line of communication, which can result in a major gap between what the CIO really wants in a well-architected environment and what the architecture team ultimately delivers. Why? Although the CIO might have a high-level understanding of EA's value to the company, he is less likely to provide a clear problem set for enterprise architects to attack, resulting in too much emphasis on architecture design and too little on solving specific problems. Over time, it is primarily this lack of defined goals that leads EA teams into trouble when budgets get tight. Getting a clear set of CIO aligned EA goals positions EA to become a more valued member of the IT organisation.

To close this gap, EAs should take accountability for the disconnect and put EA-CIO alignment at the top of their initiatives list. The first challenge here is to accept that the CIO wants EA to solve problems — not create elegant architecture. He doesn't mind if the architecture structure is a little messy if his issues are being resolved. EA's will gain much more CIO support if they embrace the product design axiom "form follows function." The second challenge is keeping the CIO focused on the strategic elements of EA's charter. This is where applying business architecture tools to IT can really pay off by helping structure the conversation around the CIO's strategic vision and goals and avoiding being saddled with more tactical problems.

The business architect's toolbox contains a number of tools that BAs can apply to IT as well as to the business. And while a major focus for business architects is to foster business-IT alignment, they can also apply the same tools and techniques to improving EA's alignment with CIO concerns. EAs aiming to develop tight alignment with CIO concerns should consider:

  • Using an IT capability map to identify focus areas. Forrester is finding capability maps to be a powerful tool that fosters strategic conversations between business and IT executives. Architects can use capability maps specifically created for IT as the foundation for strategic conversations with their CIOs. Step one: engage in a series of conversations with the CIO to create and validate an IT capability map that resonates with the CIO's viewpoint on what's important for IT's success. Step two: create a heat map view to identify capabilities that need development or remedial action.

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