Top Issues Architecture Leaders Need to Address in 2023

Most organizations are facing economic headwinds and technological disruption in today’s highly volatile times. These challenges also impact architects in their roles today and will also shape their work in the future. For this reason, architecture leaders need to pay close attention to how their teams evolve over the next 6 to 9 months to ensure that architects are maximizing their value to organizations and to set their them up for long-term success by addressing several critical issues, including:

Impacts of AI. Transformational AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard are game changers for many industries in ushering in the next digital age. Architecture leaders should look at AI tools to leverage them going forward and to understand how to pivot quickly to address this technology disruption. Architects need to be a part of that discussion, playing an advisory role because of their awareness of the capabilities and knowledge of how these technologies are being used in other companies. They also need to lead in clarifying how AI will fit within their organizations, or they will be left behind very quickly.

An Aging Workforce. Our 2023 State of Enterprise Architecture Survey indicates that over ⅔ of working architects are within ten years of retirement, with many planning to leave the workforce within the next five years. This aging workforce leads to two problems for architecture practice leaders: maintaining a stable workforce to ensure resources are secured to help the organization tomorrow and ensuring architecture teams learn and adapt to modern tools and technological changes rather than relying on yesterday’s essentials like whiteboards, Word docs, and spreadsheets. Whether an architect is just starting or nearing retirement, he or she cannot be stuck in old ways of working and not adapting fast enough to change.  

Overall resource shortages in architecture. Over the next five years, leaders need to be aware that the architect resource shortage will not improve. Resources may be unavailable in the marketplace as you look to refill your bench. Today, there are 10 to 20 open positions for every available architect looking for a job, and the future job market looks bleak. This resource shortage means architecture leaders will either need to develop the skills and experiences internally or they will need to look at how they utilize technology to do more with fewer people, and most probably a combination of both. If you’re looking to do more with less or training new architects, determine now how to maintain the tribal knowledge of your senior architects. Make mentoring a critical activity within your organizations to pass along essential knowledge today.

Underutilization of data throughout the organization. Most of today’s architects analyze in Excel or the standalone modeling tools they work in. When architects are only looking at a minimal set of information, they are missing the broad operational data available across the organization, which are found in systems like CMDB, CRMs, ERPs, HR solutions, and facility management systems to gather critical operational data about what’s going on in terms of manufacturing processes, business processes, org structures, costs, and more. Architects are designing things from blank pieces of paper and looking at very limited data to inform their analysis.

If your architects are going to be successful, they need to develop some of the skills that your data scientists have by analyzing the data across the organization and understanding how to use it in their architecture analysis. If architects want to analyze in Excel, they need to have visibility into all the available data to do it. Without more complete data and an overall picture, many architects are unaware that they’ve got blinders on, and they’re only looking at a small percentage of the data available to them. Architects must develop their data analysis skills because it is critical in helping the organization analyze problems and provide rapid insights to executives and decision-makers.

Architecture tool adoption hesitancy. Most organizations have implemented architecture tools for modeling, drawing pictures, storing enterprise architecture models, and sustaining the business’s connective tissue. If architects are not actively using architecture tools and contributing their work towards the collective understanding of the connective tissue of the organization, they are not going to be able to get the total value out of that tool in driving architecture insights and making those available to your decision-making stakeholders. Architecture tool adoption needs to be prioritized, and if things impact this goal, such as tool performance, configuration, or skills shortage, architectural leaders should look to consultants and others for help.

The need to demonstrate quantifiable value. Today, architecture teams are pressured to demonstrate quantifiable value because of the macroeconomic climate businesses organizations operate in and the economic uncertainty. For this reason, architecture leaders need to look very closely at their teams to ensure they have the skills and are exhibiting the behaviors that will lead to the highest level of strategic value from the work they’re performing. Architects shouldn’t be heads down and focused on a specific problem; they must take the blinders off, look up, and understand what’s happening around the organization. They need to talk to stakeholders and have more conversations to significantly impact sharing of the knowledge they have collected that can drive new insights. To address belt-tightening, focus on value, not so much on cost.

Architecture leaders deal with a lot of change within their business environments and receive a lot of cost pressure and value pressure from leadership to justify their teams’ work. But there’s also a massive opportunity for their architecture practices to have a more significant impact than they do today.

To do that, architecture leaders need to set aside enough time and attention to focus on the internal issues of optimizing and developing their team to be most effective in supporting the business. If you need help getting maximum value from your architects, we can help.  Reach out to us today.

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