You may have heard the term “business architect” in your travels; if you haven’t, you soon will. This summer, I have watched, and sometimes been involved in, several emotional debates among enterprise and information architects, business analysts, quality managers, Lean Six Sigma experts, management consultants, and IT consultants about the future and origins of their jobs, the skills they need, and, most importantly, their career paths to becoming a business architect.

There’s little doubt that these discussions are critically important to these individuals. Just as interesting from a research perspective is this question: What business problem do business architects need to resolve?

I have recently worked on two research projects addressing this question. For the first one, performed jointly with principal analyst John R. Rymer, our motivation came from a consulting case: Our client had experienced significant extra costs and process instabilities in operations and asked us for advice when a business transformation initiative supported by innovative technologies got out of control.

For the the second research project, principal analyst Derek Miers and I surveyed more than 300 business process professionals on their goals, priorities, and the maturity of their business process change programs. Using the collected data, we correlated the maturity assessment with the availability of business architecture functions.

Both projects have clearly showed that the emerging business architect role is vital in leading business transformations supported by technology. Based on these results and on additional insights gathered during other consulting projects, I strongly recommend that business architects take responsibility for three activities:

  1. Developing the “to-be” operating model of the organization.
  2. Developing the road map to implement the future operating model.
  3. Managing the business technology governance process.

I will discuss my recommendations in more detail during the presentation I am preparing for Forrester’s Business Process Forum 2011 — “The World Of Customer Engagement” — to be held onSeptember 22-23 in Boston. In it, I will discuss the case study of a utility company that is deploying a business transformation initiative that aims to increase the business value of customer-centric processes

I invite you to attend the Forum and also to follow Forrester’s Blog For Business Process Professionals in the weeks leading up to the event to hear from Forrester thought leaders and some of the speakers from the event.