playing jenga
Business architecture serves as the bridge between strategic goals and tactical demands. PHOTO: Michał Parzuchowski

Organizations going through digital business transformation are looking for ways to build and strengthen the bridge between technology solutions and business needs. Many organizations are finding that undertaking to be especially challenging because they can’t find people with the skills they need. According to Forrester Research, only about 15 percent of organizations feel they have the right talent in place to achieve their digital business transformation goals.

Employers are increasingly looking for people with expertise in business architecture to chart a clear path as they transform their operations. They need those individuals to formulate business blueprints designed to provide a common understanding of the organization. Business architecture professionals align strategic objectives with tactical demands, specifically the technologies needed to deliver on the promise of digital transformation. Employees equipped with business architecture skills have the potential to help companies collaborate more effectively, increase ROI for new technologies and open up new growth opportunities.

Where Business Architecture Professionals Help

To put it simply, business architecture is the practice of combining deep business savvy with strong technical knowledge to develop and execute digital road maps. Business architecture professionals work to identify critical business functions and map technology solutions to business outcomes. There are two primary roles that they can play:

  1. Customer consultant: Business architects who work at technology vendors or solution providers serve as trusted partners to the companies that buy their employers’ products — they help enterprise customers identify and get more value from their digital transformation initiatives and drive business outcomes. Their work involves four primary areas: enterprise architecture, technical consulting, business management and consultative selling.
  2. Internal analyst: Enterprise organizations may employ business architecture professionals to address internal challenges. These professionals often come from varied backgrounds; they may have worked as product managers, technical leads or engineers, for example. Having navigated enterprise architecture frameworks, they can look at business needs from an insider’s perspective and determine what technologies and what digital transformation milestones will best serve the organization’s strategic goals.

Blending Strategy, Technology and Business Acumen

Business architecture professionals cultivate a broad range of skills — including a foundational understanding of routing/switching, wireless, collaboration, security and other technologies that businesses rely on. These technical skills and capabilities are complemented by business acumen and a practical view of how enterprises work. Business architecture is best applied with a deep understanding of digital journeys, business road maps and how specific business priorities are mapped to outcomes and solutions.

When working as a customer consultant for a technology vendor, business architecture professionals typically partner with organizations at the start of the sales process to address customer needs. This requires extensive communication before, during and after technological deployment. Considerations such as meeting quotas or trying to move a particular product take a back seat to business goals. Instead, the business architecture professional takes into account the maturity level of the customer organization and works to provide solutions best suited to the customer’s needs and the organization’s capabilities.

As internal analysts working for large organizations, business architecture professionals assume a strategic mindset, evaluating how different technologies could be used to achieve business goals, such as reducing costs, increasing revenue or improving efficiency. These individuals must work across the enterprise, collaborating with business and IT departments, to determine strategic priorities and map those priorities to specific digital transformation initiatives. Technical expertise, collaboration and business acumen are vital skills in this role.

Business Architecture in Practice

Business architecture is aiding digital transformation across sectors.

A great example is from General Electric subsidiary GE Aviation. When GE Aviation transformed its business model from selling jet engines to providing a host of performance enhancements across the management of a flight, the company needed to find ways to spur adoption and integration of new services and drive additional value.

Enter the business architecture professional, working as an internal analyst. 

GE Aviation business architecture professionals worked to identify pain points, map solutions and integrate the correct technologies and services in order to drive incremental value. Essentially, such efforts drove service adoption and growth for GE Aviation by mapping outcomes to digital solutions.

A Significant Opportunity 

For organizations that strive to activate and deliver on the promise of business transformation, business architecture presents a real opportunity. Consulting with customers, business architecture professionals enable sales, optimize customer interactions and help customers achieve their digital transformation goals. As internal analysts, business architecture professionals make way for organizational success, including greater revenue and growth. 

Organizations can capitalize on this opportunity by developing talent with both the technical and business acumen to connect strategic objectives with tactical technology-based outcomes. By cultivating these skills through training and certifications specific to the practice of business architecture, organizations are best positioned to deliver on the promise of business success, now and in the future.