Yes, we’ve heard it all before. A good IT or Enterprise Architect is supposed to be able to bridge the gap between business objectives and technology solutions. In order to do that, architects still need thorough analytical skills: even with (some might argue ‘thanks to’) service-orientation the solutions landscape seems to be more complex than ever. Clearly, there is also a need for excellent communication skills: no architecture will be successful if it is not properly discussed, explained and driven through all layers of stakeholders. And then – of course- there’s also the political skills that an architect should possess in order to carefully align all parties involved. Looks like the portfolio of a mature, experienced professional that has seen it all and indeed, not many architects are likely to come fresh from university. But is it enough to have seen it all? Or is it a good recipe for mummification?

Some architects in the IT profession seem to believe that there’s no point in keeping up to date with new technologies and trends. They will claim that it is really all the same, that they’ve been doing similar things already in the seventies and that too much inside knowledge of new technologies will only corrupt the sheer beauty and well, like total conceptualness of the architectures they design.
Some good points there too.
But not if it leads to beautiful, conceptual architectures that are impossible to implement or simply miss the opportunities of advancements in technology. An architect should be an inspiring leader and mentor who visits the building place regularly and fully takes account for the designs that have been brought in. An architect should not be the mummified illustration of Peters Principle, only touching the very first part of the life cycle of a project and then quickly vanishing into history again.
This is why architects should update their technology skills over and over again, bringing them selves in sync with whatever is buzzing in real projects, in communities of practices, in universities and in the labs of technology providers.
Sounds like a busy schedule? Well, that’s what you get when you want to be an IT architect in the first place. Serves you right.
As a sort of diagnosis tool, I think it is a good idea to maintain a list of signs that prove you need an IT update. I will start with a few over here and I sincerely hope that you – dear readers – will bring in some of your own. I will certainly publish the list regularly, just to keep you sharp a bit.
Signs that prove you need an IT update
– You are convinced that the last important event in IT was the announcement of ALGOL68
– You have heard of NetWeaver, it’s one of these new, fancy web publishing tools by Macromedia
– You think that funny penguin is the Google logo
– You pronounce Microsoft’s newest programming language as ‘C Hash Sign’
Don’t be worried by the way, if you have never heard of ALGOL68. It’s fine. You’re just too young.
(Thanks to Wiebe Wiersema, definitely not a mummified architect).