Digital transformation is rewriting the rules of every aspect of business and is reshaping almost all the industries.
Digital transformation is rewriting the rules of every aspect of business and is reshaping almost all the industries. Digital transformation brings in far and wider opportunities for enterprise architects to reinvent themselves and take the leading role which drives innovation, transformation and competitive advantage in business. For this, we need to transform the traditional way of looking at enterprise architects as mere technology consultants. When the market is talking about unicorn data sciences and hype, what I feel, for consulting and services in digital technologies, the need of the hour is to nurture a new breed of architects—‘Unicorn Architects’ with multi-dimensional perspectives and skills. Apart from the core technical architectural and design skills, they should possess right blend of skills including, innovation skills, business skills, customer handling skills, analytical skills, delivery skills and people management skills.
In this age of disruptive technologies including IoT, Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud, architecture can no longer be looked as a mere back-end function where the solution architects are involved in giving technical architectural inputs and designs. The next generation of digitally transformed enterprises demands a joint innovation effort or co-partnering model from the enterprise architects in the end-to-end process of a solution delivery. For this, the solution architect needs to be a Unicorn Architect and they need to wear multiple hats spanning all the steps required in an entire solution delivery life cycle.
What it takes to be a unicorn architect?
Tech & architecture skills
An enterprise architect requires adequate breadth and depth across the various technology domains.It is the depth which can differentiate Unicorn architects from solution architects. Cross-functional collaboration and cross-skilling are highly essential for an architect who drives the digital transformation. They need to possess innovation, R & D skills to bring in in actionable insights on new technologies and practices to the enterprises that treads in the path of digital transformation. Apart from all these, they need to be thought leaders and technology evangelists who contribute to their technology community or ecosystem by publishing their findings, creating patents/ IP’s and so on.
Customer handling and consulting skills
It is key for an architect to act as an interface between business partners and customers. They should possess customer facing skills including refined communication, calmness and composure to understand and face the reality rather than theoretically addressing the business problems.
Product and delivery skills
Unicorn architects are the solution specialists that build the solutions for the customers. They can conceptualise viable prototypes in rigid timelines and at times create the pseudo code for the developer, if needed. They follow the industry’s best practices and create new methodologies and agility which is eminent to make the product work. They understand delivery as a reality and don’t get stuck in a theoretical and idealistic world.
Team player and people skills
Unicorn architects are not people who sit alone in a room and wait for the magic to happen. They need to get involved in reviewing the codes and give the right direction for the engineers. They need to understand challenges and risks, and convey these to the delivery manager. They should give the right direction/ paths to CXOs/ practice leaders to build solutions/products and sales/account managers, to make the sales strategies work.
Digital technologies require not only agile methodologies but also an entire super agile mindset. Be it any new process, advanced technology, or latest methodology implementation, a digital organisation’s architect needs the ‘digital mindset’ to perfectly align with the agile principles. It requires solid experience, exposure, attitude and cultural change across individuals as well as the enterprises to shape a fellow consultant into a unicorn architect who enables businesses to survive, thrive and to win in this digital transformation era.
Sethuraman Janardhanan is practice head and client partner—Big Data Analytics at Happiest Minds Technologies