by Kim S. Nash

What CIOs Look for in an Enterprise Architect

Aug 27, 2010
CareersEnterprise Architecture

Enterprise architects need strong business and technical skills, and years of experience.

CIOs need enterprise architects

“It’s a unique personality—negotiation skills as well as ­technical skills,” says John Ericksen, chief operating officer and leader of technology and corporate services with PNC Financial Services Group. “They’re hard to find.”

Matson Navigation established an enterprise architecture group in 2004. One of its biggest contributions to date has been to spread respect for the company’s architecture and applications standards to application developers and quality testers, says Srini Cherukuri, senior director of IT operations.

With that understanding, the company moved away from building isolated systems that perform specific jobs and toward sharing and reusing pieces of applications and business processes to make IT a more coherent whole, Cherukuri says. That ability to persuade others to change is critical, he adds. The best architects also understand what kind of data brings the most value to the company and then influence the design and integration of systems to produce that data faster, in different combinations and for different constituencies.

You need people who understand business and customer needs, Ericksen adds. They also should have broad knowledge of technology capabilities, though not necessarily code and query languages, he says.

Companies usually look for IT professionals with 10 to 15 years of experience in order to find that combination of characteristics. Some companies even want their architects to have a master’s or doctorate degree in computer science or engineering.

For more on enterprise architecture, see related story “How Cloud Computing and Mobile Devices Are Changing Your Application Strategy.”