Digital Transformation Spurs a Proliferation of College and University EA Programs

Technology architecture continues to evolve much like the software and technologies it is designed to manage. And technologists are quick to note what that could mean in the future. 

They agree that the pressure is on for enterprise and solution architects to produce results faster and more cheaply. Meanwhile, the use of multiple clouds and AI is making the role more challenging, especially for established companies operating legacy systems. The result is a shift in focus from conceptualization and planning to faster delivery and a more pragmatic approach. 

Some technologists suggest there’s now a greater demand for solutions architects than the more comprehensive approach taken by enterprise architects. Others suggest that the term “Enterprise Architecture” (EA) may be falling out of fashion. Instead, it’s now referred to as organizational design, business design, enterprise design or digital design.   

Amal Alhosban, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, Flint, said chief information officers are doing more than ever. They’re now charged with understanding the business and technology architecture. They also establish information governance structures and credibility while investing in IT. 

“All of these roles take more skills than ever,” she said. “Leadership roles are much broader today than before. The main reason is integrating the company’s departments under [enterprise resource planning].”

The Rise of Solutions Architecture 

The demand for solutions architecture has outpaced EA and grown to become one of the more popular approaches employed by engineers compared with EA.  

Unlike the broader, more holistic view of enterprise architects, solution architects target specific business problems. The resulting connection to both workflow and data flow issues have contributed to their rising popularity, according to Scott Alexander Bernard, a veteran enterprise architect and adjunct instructor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Software Research. 

“People don’t see the money in enterprise architecture right now, but they do get something from solutions architecture,” he said. “People want tangible victories and my [enterprise architecture] stuff takes time.”