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Transform the enterprise—or be left behind

Disruptive technologies will divide enterprise architects into strategic vanguards and legacy laggards—which path will you take?

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“By 2017, 60 percent of global enterprise organizations will execute on at least one revolutionary and currently unimaginable business transformation effort.”

—Gartner

If you think the last few years have introduced disruptive technologies, we’re telling you now: Prepare for an onslaught. Gartner predicts that technologies will be more dramatically disruptive in the next 10 years than ever before. The future will build on the burgeoning Internet of Things and its resulting avalanche of sensor data. And every industry will become a digital business, companies will increasingly jump traditional industry boundaries, and everyone will face surprising new competitors.

Gartner goes as far as to predict, “By 2017, 60 percent of global enterprise organizations will execute on at least one revolutionary and currently unimaginable business transformation effort.”

Gartner’s work highlights the need for architects to transform themselves into strategists. According to its research, only 52 percent of CEOs and other high-level executives say they have a digital strategy for their organizations. And 80 percent of C-level leaders that Gartner surveyed admitted to needing help adapting to new technologies. The same 80 percent of C-level leaders also said they need guidance on how to be effective in this new world of big data.

Lead the revolution

Some enterprise architects will be at the forefront of these breakthrough innovations. They will be challenged to lead their organizations through complex new strategies as they connect big data technologies to business goals. But other architects will be left behind, consigned to keeping legacy systems running. These disruptive technologies will create a division of labor between “vanguard architects” and “legacy architects.”

According to Gartner, “By 2016, 30 percent of global organizations will establish a clear role distinction between foundational and vanguard enterprise architects. Enterprise architects will be challenged to develop the talent to deal with the non-linear digital future, while effectively managing the current real estate at the same time.”

This is a wake-up call to enterprise architects: It’s time to get strategic. To stay abreast of data-driven technologies—and excel professionally—enterprise architects must actively drive business value.

Forward thinking

Vanguard enterprise architects can help prepare business leaders for the sea change of big data. These strategic enterprise architects are the lone members of the IT organization who understand both technology and the business. And, most importantly, they can bridge the gap between the two.

As strategists, vanguard architects don’t just advise their organizations on what technologies to implement. More significantly, they explain new possibilities for the business powered by these technologies. As their role evolves, they should provide more technical guidance to the strategy discussion and help solidify what the technological solutions should look like.

Legacy architects will continue to maintain the existing infrastructure and systems, many of which will continue to be critical to the day-to-day operations of the business. It's likely that this role will be far less exciting and possibly less valued than that of the vanguard architect.

The takeaway for architects is clear: If architects don’t get strategic, they’re going to be relegated to a maintenance role. But if they can meld strategic vision and the right big data technology implementation, they can lead an organization into the disruptive future.

Start your journey towards becoming a vanguard architect by gaining an understanding of the different reference architectures at your disposal to improve business communications and operational excellence. Follow it up with advice for transforming the business.

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