Architectural Interest: Myth Busters #1 - Architects are all Technical, and all Architectures are Technical

SOLUTION - Information Management, SOLUTION - Strategic Services


Vernon Smith, Senior Principal - Noah Consulting

Enterprise architecture (EA) consists of a variety of disciplines, which can be divided into two "families." The first of these is business architecture and the second is technology architecture. Although these two disciplines work closely together, they serve very different needs - the business architecture family (consisting of business, process, and information architectures) is all about understanding the needs of the business and articulating those needs in a consistent fashion. This articulation usually takes the form of various current-state and target-state models such as the operating model, capability model, corporate information model, and several other supporting models. In its simplest form, business architecture describes the current and future business in a concise and pragmatic way that can be understood by a non-technical audience. Technology Architecture is all about how an organization’s IT function supports that business architecture, both now and in the future. Technology architecture consists of the application, technical, data, infrastructure and security architectures. Again, these are normally articulated in a series of related models and standards that together give the organization’s IT department the “rules and guidelines” within which solutions should be built in order to provide efficient, cost-effective and long-lasting support to the organization. During my many years working in various industries, I have seen time and again technically wonderful solutions that were either irrelevant to the business that they were trying to serve or that serviced one narrow business need to the exclusion (and often to the detriment) of others. While technical architecture is an absolutely vital part of any organization’s IT world, enterprise architecture in its entirety is a much broader and deeper thing, serving both the business and IT communities and bringing them together with clear messages and strategies. The most effective business architectures are normally the simplest too. A really tight and punchy business component model on a single page is a priceless artifact that gives all stakeholders a common picture from which to start discussions, and a basis to build out the future vision in many directions. A high level business-facing information model is worth a hundred individual data models, because not only does it make sense to the business, but it also gives a home and a context for all those data models and brings them together. Success lies in a unique mix of deep business and technical knowledge in the upstream oil & gas space along with cross-industry enterprise architecture expertise. Noah Consulting uses these skills and fosters strong partnerships in order to develop and grow client organization’s EA function beyond the technical and into a long-lasting proposition of real business value.


Vernon Smith is a Senior Principal and Canadian Practice Lead with Noah Consulting. Vernon is a highly experienced Enterprise Architect and Strategist, with full-lifecycle experience gained over 30 years. He has built and delivered entire architectural practices for major organizations, and was responsible for creating the Architecture Profession at one of the world’s largest global companies. He has established and implemented cultural change at the most fundamental level, changing the way that organizations think about their corporate information and driving transformation as a direct result. By bringing a business focus to Enterprise Architecture, Vernon is able to lead change in an organization with his passionate and engaging approach that brings together management consulting and IT strategy in a way that shows true value and benefit to both.

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