One of our client consultancies recently raised an issue about using the name “Enterprise Architect.” Many of their clients, particularly on the business side, didn’t understand the title unless a lot of context was included to help explain it. While I think most IT types have had enough exposure to EA to understand what it is all about, this isn’t true on the business side. Even though the name might be the industry standard and reflect (to some extent) what we do, if it takes explaining then maybe it isn’t the best name.
I do think it is the “architect” term that is the main problem, but “enterprise” anything has also left a bad impression with some companies – and really, what does “enterprise” mean anyway? Who else uses that term in their title? Finance and HR operate exactly the same way as EA – they have enterprise accountabilities – but don’t have enterprise in their titles – or at least I haven’t seen it yet.
Additionally, when I work with new EA programs, I frequently find that they are in their third, fourth, and sometimes fifth iteration of building an EA practice. Often there is a negative connotation around the EA term built up from past failures. These clients also would like to use a different label for enterprise architects.
Forrester sees EA as primarily a strategy function. It can be focused on business strategy, technology strategy, or both depending on the organizational approach. In a recent client session we brainstormed a number of different names for the enterprise architect including: IT Strategist, Business Technology Strategist, Enterprise Strategist, Corporate IT Strategist, Corporate Business Technology Strategist, Enterprise Alignment Consultants, and Enterprise Strategy Consultants. We also came up with a similar series of names replacing strategist with advisor.
I like Business Technology Strategist or Corporate IT Strategist best, as they seem to align well with what EA teams are doing (or aspire to do) and don’t need much explanation.