The past 50 years focused on technologies that assisted with data collection, storage, transmission, analysis and presentation, not the information. Drucker correctly predicted that the next information revolution would ask about the meaning of information and its purpose.
The next information revolution is well under way. But it's not a revolution in computer hardware, semiconductors or software, per se. Instead, it's a revolution driven by the need to put the right information in the right people's hands at the right time. This new kind of information flow without boundaries requires a technical infrastructure built on open standards--one that is designed to enable individuals as well as their distinct IT systems to all work together.
But we'll need great architects who can develop and implement a great architecture.
We're talking about people who can adopt the city planner view of the enterprise. This new breed of professionals must be able to communicate effectively with each level of their organizations. On the one hand, they will have to communicate the big picture as well as the detailed steps necessary to align IT with tangible business goals. Not surprisingly, these so-called enterprise architects are now rated more highly than developers when measured by the value they can deliver to their companies.
But as enterprise architecture emerges as a true--albeit maturing--profession, there remains a shortage of qualified architects.
A chief information officer building a team needs the option to look for enterprise architects whose experience meets an accepted set of professional standards. When hiring accountants or lawyers, a business will look at a slew of credentials. CIOs are starting to exercise the same kind of rigor. This is fueling the trend for hiring professionally certified enterprise architects.
Large IT consulting firms and end-user companies like IBM Software Group, HP Services, Capgemini, Lufthansa Transport, Austin Energy and Scottish Power are increasingly looking to certification programs for their architects.
Initially, some of them developed their own certification programs. But these proprietary programs were costly to administer and didn't overcome the challenge of recruiting the right talent in the first place. Today, these companies are embracing industry standards as a basis for certifying the skills and capabilities of enterprise architects.
For example, more than 1,500 individuals have achieved The Open Group's IT Architecture Certification (ITAC) since the program debuted one year ago. These numbers are telling and continue to grow daily.
I believe the enterprise architect is pivotal to this industry transformation and will lead the next information revolution.
However, to continue the enterprise architect's professional evolution, four things are necessary: high standards of expertise; recognized best practices; skills and experience certification; and a forum for practitioners to come together and share knowledge. Fortunately, all of this is happening. In fact, The Open Group will launch the industry's first association of enterprise architects early next year.
Companies that don't evolve in line with the innovations happening in enterprise architecture will fall behind. A continued focus on information vs. technology will require that CIOs create teams to build their businesses for a world without boundaries.
We're at a point of change. Enterprise architecture is coming of age and driving the next information revolution.
Allen Brown is the president and CEO of The Open Group, a not-for-profit consortium that works toward enabling access to integrated information within and between enterprises based on open standards and global interoperability.
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