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Meet the Enterprise Architects

by Evan J. Albright

August 11, 2009

The enterprise architect represents a new breed of IT manager. Savvy in both business and IT, enterprise architects play a key role in the planning, implementation, and adoption of enterprise technology. Meet five enterprise architects from major companies in a variety of industries and learn who these people are and what they do.

Meet the Enterprise Architects

SAP NetWeaver technology enables end-to-end business processes that might not have been possible previously or executed as multiple processes in different systems. Developing and maintaining these processes requires a fresh way to envision, plan, and implement them.

To respond to this challenge, many organizations have created a management role called “enterprise architect.” Enterprise architects are knowledgeable about the existing landscape and aware of advances in technology. They have the ability to map those advances to business processes, both current and future, and they have a skill in diplomacy to gain cross-departmental trust and cooperation. This requires detailed knowledge of not only the technology but also the business.

Many companies are finding it a challenge to sniff out qualified individuals whose feet are in both the business and technology worlds (see “The 3 Key Functions of an Enterprise Architect”). These special individuals also need to know where the line is between bleeding edge and leading edge, between pie-in-the-sky technologies and proven applications that supply a competitive advantage.

The 3 Key Functions of an Enterprise Architect
Act as a liaison between business and IT
Translate business requirements into technical requirements (and vice versa)
Identify appropriate technology to solve business problems or address business opportunities

As Scott Feldman, director for SAP’s Global Community Ecosystem, puts it, “To be successful with SAP NetWeaver, you need enterprise architects who are looking at the big picture.” If you think this sounds like the description of a C-level manager's job, you're right. The difference between an enterprise architect and a C-level manager lies in decision-making authority. The enterprise architect studies a situation and makes recommendations, while the C-level manager makes the final decision.

SAP NetWeaver Magazine spoke with Russell Heinsen and Peter Loop of Intel, Nayaki Nayyar of Valero, Brian Moore of Raytheon, and Kirk Royster of Dow Corning about their roles as enterprise architects, how the role has evolved in recent years, and how they became enterprise architects. Their responses show that the role of the enterprise architect is still evolving, and that no two companies appear to approach the role in the same manner.

The Architects
Peter Loop (left) and Russell Heinsen (right) are chief architect and chief applications architect, respectively, of ERP applications at Intel Corporation. They are both members of Intel’s Architecture, Research and Technology Development team with 39 years of combined experience in applications. Loop is co-chair of the ASUG Enterprise Architecture Community. Brian Moore serves as principal architect for Raytheon, one of the largest defense contractors in the United States. Nayaki Nayyar is IT director of enterprise architecture and development services at Valero Energy Corporation. Her team is responsible for implementing enterprise services architecture (ESA) using the SAP NetWeaver stack. Kirk Royster is enterprise architecture director for Dow Corning. Royster has been with Dow Corning since 1985, and today is responsible for global enterprise architecture, reporting to the CIO.

How has the role of enterprise architect evolved over the years?

Brian Moore, Raytheon: The main thing that’s happened is that the importance of architecture is becoming more known. There is more of a general awareness, so what we as enterprise architects do has more resonance, more impact, and more sense of dependency. Four or five years ago, we took an initial shot at creating an enterprise architect role but we didn’t find any traction. We have a lot more traction now.

Kirk Royster, Dow Corning: At Dow Corning we have placed a major emphasis on enterprise architects embracing and taking the initiative to proactively communicate, not in technical terms but more in process terms, with the businesses we support. Organizations such as ours that have senior, experienced individuals in enterprise architect roles are less intimidated by the business, and start to go out, take a risk, sit down with these people, and show them a few things. This allows technical people to make a huge shift in terms of the excitement level of their job because suddenly they’ve developed a line of sight to see how they can directly affect business results as never before. This is a huge change.

Moore: In the past there were different camps on how to handle enterprise architecture, with each company or consultancy having its own methods and terminologies. Now, there is talk about certifying architects and deciding what capabilities they ought to have. Today, there is more of a joint evolution of this as a profession, with common skill sets, common techniques.

What skill sets does an enterprise architect need?

Moore: As the profession grows, our skill sets need to change. A lot of people in the profession have come from purely technical approaches and are focused on the infrastructure aspects of architecture. They’ve had to grow to realize architecture is more about the application space, more about methodology and how you interact with your business and business drivers, and the goals involved with tracking what you’re doing with technology. We’re trying to think more broadly that way.

Russell Heinsen, Intel: Enterprise architects have to have the right mix — the business acumen, the technical acumen, and also the ability to stand back and be abstract thinkers, strategic thinkers, and, ultimately, very strong influencers. They require solid networks and strong presentation skills.

Nayaki Nayyar, Valero: They are traditional IT only when it comes to the technical side. Today, the enterprise architects in IT have accounting degrees or marketing degrees or engineering degrees. They have joined IT only after years in the business. They are recruited to IT from the ranks of the business side, rather than the technology side.

Royster: Recently, Nils Herzberg [SAP senior vice president for industry solutions] pointed out one of my colleagues, and said, “Kirk, that guy over there is invaluable to SAP, and I can imagine how invaluable he is to your business because that guy has business-process experience and is a process architect.” He explained that SAP’s ideal scenario is that its customers would start to put in place and develop skill sets around business-process architecture because these are the people who understand how a business operates and who can communicate most effectively with SAP.

Heinsen: If you go across our organization now, the enterprise architect discipline we have built consists of a lot of our senior technologists. Look at my role: My degree is in finance and MIS [management information systems]. I started at Intel 17 years ago as a very junior financial analyst. I spent about six years in all the different financial analyst roles: cost analyst, budget and planning analyst, capital analyst. Then I moved into finance information systems where we were generating our next budget-and-planning system, where I was a coder banging away at a keyboard. I moved on through development, production support, and later into architecture. Finance is an interesting place to come from. If you go back through a lot of our architects, they have that kind of background. If you go through our group, it’s cross-disciplinary with quite a few years at Intel.

Peter Loop, Intel: There are very few “junior” enterprise architects. They are always senior people who haven’t been architects very long.

Royster: How did we end up with people with that skill set? Instead of outsourcing our implementation of SAP in the late 1990s, we did it with our own people. We invested heavily in their training around the SAP processes and workflows. You can imagine how valuable they are now. And we are starting to place a heavy emphasis on the process side of enterprise architecture, not just the technical side. You get these people in the group, and some of these characteristics start to bleed off on the other individuals.

Where does the architect fit into the IT organization?

Nayyar: Three years ago, our IT organization was realigned. Our departments are aligned by their different lines of business, and these IT department heads work closely with the respective business-unit leaders to understand the business practices. Most of the IT department heads previously worked on the business side. The IT department heads design the business processes and work with the central technical department to implement solutions. The central technical department is composed of ABAP, Web, ESA, Basis, portal, EDI, and DBA developers and administrators.

Heinsen: My particular role was chief applications architect. I found I started asking myself, what is an applications architect and what are we doing? Ultimately, it was about delivering solutions. We peeled off an area within applications architecture called “solutions architects.” We broke up our enterprise into seven different domains, such as order-to-cash, HR, finance — general functional areas — and we assigned a solutions architect to each one. In this role the [solutions architects] were responsible for finding all projects and programs and then jumping in and starting to drive the architecture.

Royster: There are some things that can change and should change for companies that want to get the maximum value out of enterprise architecture. When you have some people who have been in the role for a few years and built up credibility within the organization, the absolute next step for those folks is to approach the business. You have to think through how you establish your priorities. For me, I had the help of several executives. One in particular, in sales and marketing, would tell me the same two words every time I saw him. “Kirk,” he would say, “Outside in.”

In addition to the focus on manufacturing and supply chain, you need to spend time with folks in commercial, customer-facing roles. These are the people who, if we help make them more effective, they’ll make more wins. They’ll start to be able to show you how we as a company can differentiate.

Nayyar: At Valero, we have formed a group called ART (Architecture Review Team), which is composed of experts from each IT department. This group reviews every significant capital project to ensure that the project conforms to Valero’s standards, tools, and business processes. The project managers send the projects for ART review after they have worked with the users to define the business process. The project managers present to ART the requirements, the business-process design, and the technical design of the proposed solution. During the design, if we see a need for enterprise services, we implement those enterprise services as a part of the project and then reuse them from project to project.

How does the architect interact with the business?

Nayyar: Most of the companies are going through this phase where it’s no longer about implementing a standalone application; it’s about architecting a business process that isn’t confined to one application/system; it spans across multiple applications/systems within the enterprise. To be able to achieve that, IT has to work with business users to understand what their business process is, how to optimize it, and know what tools are available to help them achieve their business goals. You need enterprise architects with business knowledge and IT knowledge to marry business requirements to technical solutions.

Royster: I’ve gotten to a point in my career where I have no problem walking into a room with some salespeople, knowing that I know very little about their situation. I’m confident enough that if I can get them talking and show them some technologies, they will start to care a whole lot less about how much I know about their job and they will start to open up and help me learn about their job. It’s more of a confidence factor. The technical architects don’t have to work the next two or three years to learn the business before they are qualified to walk in and help these people. People just want to see someone who will take the initiative and listen.

Loop: Enterprise architecture is now a job category in and unto itself with a job ladder, and the skill mix is very different from anything else. There are a lot of generalists. Architecture is all about telling a story, and you need good storytellers who have good connections.

Heinsen: Honestly, we’ve harvested and pulled out about as many [enterprise architects] as we’re going to find from our own ranks. Now, as we try to find more architects, it’s extremely difficult to find that skill set. Generally, when we do find someone in our organization, the rest of the group is angry with us because we’ve pulled one of the key resources out of their particular development group.

Loop: And as Intel is moving to a platform organization, we’re seeing a purging of our enterprise architecture ranks to go to our sales side.

“Services! That’s
where we’re going.”

— Russell Heinsen, Intel

How does SAP NetWeaver fit within the enterprise architect universe?

Royster: SAP NetWeaver is making it easier and easier — notice, I didn’t go so far as to say easy — for me to listen to an idea from an individual in the business and deliver a solution for that person. If a salesperson tells me he wants the system to alert him when an order by one of his key customers isn’t going to ship on time, SAP NetWeaver allows us to monitor information like that in the system, and with SAP BW [SAP Business Information Warehouse, now part of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, or SAP NetWeaver BI] we can monitor performance and send an email immediately to that individual when the event occurs. We can also do it on the other side of the equation — not issues, not problems, but opportunities. We can use some of the tools in SAP NetWeaver BI to monitor patterns. The point of SAP NetWeaver is that it has made it easier to interact with the user.

I’ll give you a couple of examples of that. One of the first things SAP did was to Web-enable the back-end systems — R/3, SAP BW — so that it could empower some of its customers with analytics, which are views of performance. We have a group that is using a new tool called [SAP NetWeaver] Visual Composer to build analytics [see “Create Analytic Apps Without Programming” in this issue]. We can take these analytics and map them to a workflow for a user at whatever point we want to snap them in. Now, we can get the information anywhere, even on the shop floor.

Moore: SAP NetWeaver? I’m a real enthusiast for where it’s been going. Take ESA [enterprise services architecture] — I’ve been a real champion that we get on that bandwagon. In addition to SAP’s products, SAP’s thinking in the ESA space is something we need to leverage more. My take is that SAP is ahead in many ways, and we really ought to leverage its research and practice. We’re not going to be a 100-percent SAP shop, but we can still use a lot of SAP’s thinking, models, and analysis.

Heinsen: Services! That’s where we’re going. The decoupling of an application’s capability into a set of services that lets us orchestrate solutions, [deal with] change management, and [undertake] the agility challenges is absolutely what we’re looking for and what we need. This is an opportunity for us to deliver solutions in a way we haven’t considered in the past.

Nayyar: The ability to orchestrate business processes across multiple applications is what got Valero started on ESA. We first started looking at ESA in late 2003, and since then we have spent time designing, prototyping, and building the ESA infrastructure using the SAP NetWeaver stack. In order to build and leverage the ESA layer, we are trying to standardize our tools as much as possible. We are using SAP NetWeaver Portal as the front-end for all new applications, SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure [SAP NetWeaver XI] for synchronous/asynchronous messaging, and SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio for user-interface development.

The Top 5 Attributes of a Successful Enterprise Architect
Superior communication skills, especially the ability to interact with the business and with IT, in meetings and one-on-one
2] Understanding of existing technical landscape, including all applications, hardware, and infrastructure, as well as knowledge of where technology is going and the technical strategy of the organization
3] Superior political skills, such as the ability to recognize opinion leaders within the business who can help drive requirements-gathering, business-process analysis, and user acceptance
4] Business acumen, notably the ability to identify business drivers and goals and to map technology to accomplish the same
5] Process- or solution-oriented, versus married to any particular technology platform or application, which requires an understanding of what a business process is today, how best to optimize it, and what are the best tools to do so

What challenges does SAP NetWeaver offer the enterprise architect?

Loop: One of the problems I have had dealing with ERP vendors in general is the lack of a holistic view of all the things they have. For example, I want them to give me a list of all the extractors and what KPIs [key performance indicators] those extractors support. SAP NetWeaver is a very cool story; there are a lot of good chapters, but there’s no index or table of contents.

Royster: Almost every big SAP shop not only has a major investment in SAP but also in Microsoft — MS Office tools, MS Outlook, etc. I am co-leading a new initiative [at Dow Corning] that pulls together customers in common between SAP and Microsoft. SAP NetWeaver doesn’t solve all my problems. It is a critical component, but what I need are Microsoft and SAP, in eight or nine specific areas, to work out interoperability and a common roadmap, to identify the specific standards that they both support.

Heinsen: One of the things we’ve said is, if we want to manage our costs and we want to become more agile, let’s standardize. Let’s work with a strategic set of vendors; let’s drive for the ingredients we need; and let’s focus, instead of pitting one vendor against another and doing “bake-offs.”

Loop: My focus is to make sure ERP software vendors are paying attention to us. Intel is driving to get industry standards for a lot of the semantics of what we’re trying to do.

Nayyar: I see that the major software vendors have to work together in defining the standards and future direction for SOA [service-oriented architecture] /ESA. As SOA/ESA matures, it will become absolutely critical that we have one common set of standards for interoperability, security, and reliability.

The Future of Enterprise Architects

“Enterprise architects are a passionate group focused on the application of technology to both solve business problems and identify new business opportunities that leverage technology to improve business operations,” says Paul Kurchina, ASUG. “The enterprise architecture community is focused on collaboratively figuring out how to better leverage its SAP investments both today and tomorrow to better enable the business — not IT for IT’s sake, but IT for improved business results.”

Enterprise Architecture Community

At TechEd in Boston in September 2005, SAP for the first time added the role of enterprise architect to its registration. Fully 10 percent of the attendees checked that as their vocation. Picking up on this trend, Paul Kurchina, a long-time member of Application Systems Users Group (ASUG), recently created a collaborative organization for enterprise architects (

“In the past there have been groups that looked at things like finance, human resources, business intelligence, and portals, but what was missing was a forum for enterprise architects to share information and collaborate,” says Kurchina. “The enterprise architects in corporations today are not just looking at the ‘infrastructure architecture,’ as many of them have done in the past; they are looking holistically across processes, applications, data, and infrastructure. Enterprise architects are now truly bridging the cultural gap between business and technology.”

One of the members of the ASUG enterprise architecture group is Brian Moore, principal architect at defense contractor Raytheon. “Paul’s group is good example of sharing how to be an enterprise architect, building it as a profession, deciding what enterprise architecture is and how you do it. What does it mean, how do you do it, how do you train people, how many enterprise architects do you have, what’s your process, what’s your training? We’re really comparing notes with our peers much more than we used to.”

“We started this new community to serve as a forum to discuss how SAP’s enterprise services architecture [ESA] can serve as the roadmap for a business, and how SAP NetWeaver and mySAP ERP are promoting a whole new view of IT and new business-enabling capabilities,” Kurchina says. The focus of this new collaborative community for enterprise architects is threefold:

  • To better leverage what’s available today to gain greater value from our SAP investments and extend into non-SAP areas (e.g., plant integration)

  • To plan better roadmaps for tomorrow (develop our technology roadmaps both short and long term)

  • To influence future SAP directions and developments (provide quality information with which to steer the direction of SAP and its partners, even introduce new partners to SAP). One aspect of this role is to encourage infrastructure providers to improve integration with each other’s platforms.

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