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Why Choose a Career in Enterprise Architecture

By Lynda Sydney, Writer and Communications Consultant
 
According to the Center for Enterprise Architecture website: “The most critical issue facing Government, Defense and Commercial enterprises today is the rapid pace of change in almost every industry. With the rate of technological change increasing, together with today's budget and competitive pressures, enterprises must be able to change rapidly often just to survive—let alone succeed. More and more organizations are turning to the evolving science of Enterprise Architecture to develop solutions to these challenges.”
 
The idea for the Center for Enterprise Architecture at Pennsylvania State University dates back several years. Through his consulting work and position at Penn State, Dr. Brian Cameron, who is now Executive Director of the Center, realized there was a call for more formalized education and research in the area of Enterprise Architecture. 
 
At the beginning of the recent financial crisis, Penn State faculty developed a business case and realized there were opportunities for the college in the area of Enterprise Architecture (EA). Dr. Cameron approached the Dean and was approved to conduct a validating exercise, forming a corporate advisory group. When companies were willing to make a $15,000 donation just to sit at the table—right in the middle of the recession—that certainly provided the validation they were seeking. The college raised over half a million dollars. The advisory group included over seventy corporations, government bodies, and non-profit organizations from seven countries. 
 
In January 2011, The Center for Enterprise Architecture was officially recognized by Penn State as an education and research facility.
 
Career Opportunities in Enterprise Architecture
 
“The outlook for career opportunities in enterprise architecture is bright,” says Dr. Cameron. “Starting in the middle of the financial crisis, many organizations were looking for ways to be more efficient, effective, and agile, and turned to enterprise architecture to perform the enterprise-wide analysis, design, planning and implementation needed to achieve these goals. There is interest from all types of organizations around the world and government as well—it is truly a global topic.”
 
The center has the distinction of offering the first fully online Masters Program in Enterprise Architecture in the world, and there is huge demand for this program from around the globe. Students enrolled in the Masters Program in EA come from a variety of disciplines—technology and business of course, but also liberal arts, political science, sociology and others. 
 
The center also offers Undergraduate Education in Enterprise Architecture which is popular with potential hiring companies as there is a growing need for entry-level employees who have a foundation in EA.
 
In terms of career opportunities for students, enterprise architecture is viewed as a strategic function, increasingly aligned with strategic planning. Many companies are looking for people who understand technology, but also have strategic planning skills among other business knowledge—usually people are proficient in either technology or business but not both. Finding people who understand the different layers of the IT organization as well as the business side including strategic planning, complex organizations, operations, and processes, can be a challenge. Students who study Enterprise Architecture learn both disciplines, and these people are in high demand.
 
For people who are interested in strategic thinking and aligning the enterprise IT infrastructure with the business strategy of the organization, a career in Enterprise Architecture could be the ideal choice.
 
Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO)
 
One of the problems with the Enterprise Architecture space is that it is very fragmented. Numerous professional organizations claim to own or represent pieces of it such as business architecture, data architecture, software architecture, and systems, so there is no clear leader in the area. Dr. Cameron decided it was time to come together, to stop reinventing the wheel and establish EA as a real profession like accounting and engineering.
 
Four years ago, six larger professional organizations that were involved in the EA activities at Penn State decided to coordinate efforts and create an organization bringing together several groups that have an interest in the progress of the profession—and the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO) was born. International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) is a member of FEAPO.
 
The goal is to evolve FEAPO into an accrediting body for the profession. There are many organizations who are putting the EA title on courses and certificates but no one is validating these programs. FEAPO will provide that validation by developing a common career path for EA as well as role descriptions and competencies and eventually help to develop model curriculum for academia. To learn more visit FEAPO.org
 
Editor’s Note: Be sure to read the article by Maureen McVey, “Advancing the Enterprise Architecture Profession”.