George Colony, our CEO, just released a post on his blog about enterprise architecture, aptly enough named “Enterprise Architects For Dummies (CEOs).” I retweeted the post to my followers and received a flood of responses, most of which were violently disagreeing with George’s assertion that EA works for the CIO. I think this is a pointless argument, but underscores a very important change that most are missing.

Here’s what I mean:

  • The objection to putting EA under the CIO is based on an old-school notion.That notion is that CIOs are chief technology infrastructure managers. Our data shows that the role of CIO is changing, fueled by cloud and other as-a-service technology. CTOs or VPs of IT are increasingly taking on the job we used to think of as the CIO, while progressive CIOs are evolving to something else. Locating EA under the CTO is a bad idea, we all agree.
  • Every business is a digital business.If you don’t believe me, I’ll send you a pile of research. There is no such thing as a non-information-centric business anymore — or at least there won’t be for very long, because they are going out of business. Forrester has been using the term “business technology” (BT) for a while to indicate that there is no room for having separate business and IT — it simply won’t work much longer. Even in the most paper, analog verticals, we can give you example after example; check out Monsanto’s IFS (they are a seed company!).
  • CIOs are becoming chief business technology officers. We have even gone so far as to retitle our CIO to CBTO; but even if you don’t take it to that extreme, the notion still has value. Since your business is a digital business, CIOs/CBTOs are stepping into the business design role, and that design is increasingly focused on the use of digital information for competitive advantage. Every other competitive barrier, except goodwill, has been or will be erased before long.

The practice of EA supports the C-suite’s digital transformation and digital business design. When you think about the CBTO leading this effort, it all makes good sense. I discuss this in much more detail in my report “Build Trust And Agility With An EA Process Framework.” In this light, it doesn’t make much difference where you put enterprise architects or even what you title them, so long as the firm is doing the right things with the right people.

Does this make sense? Love to hear what you think.