Architect of what?

Back in the UK, I’m pottering around looking at the job-scene whilst working on some new material for

The nearest to a conventional job-description for what I do is ‘Enterprise Architect’ – the structure of large organisations, with somewhat of an IT bent. So take a look with me at the listings on Jobserve UK: go to their site; select Job-type ‘any’, Within ‘1’ [day], and IT jobs only in the ‘Industries:’ list; then enter ‘architect’ in the box, and click ‘Go’.

What you’ll get, on a typical day, is a list of about 400 jobs, all of which claim to be IT ‘architect’ roles of some kind or another. But of these, barely a handful – two or three at most, usually – are what I would think of as real enterprise-architect roles; the rest are… well… ‘architects’ of what, really?

Pretty much anything, it seems. ‘Technical Architect’ seems to mean little more than “a passing knowledge of J2EE”; ‘Information Architect’ means someone who has some clue about how to put a web-site together. ‘SAP Architect’ is pretty much a contradiction in terms (as anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the disaster-area that is SAP would testify). And so on…

In short, in most cases it seems that ‘architect’ means pretty much exactly the same as the old term ‘analyst/programmer’, except that these days said analyst/programmer is expected to know something about more than just the one application, and to have some idea of how to get the infernal things to actually communicate, in some fashion that doesn’t result in the outright demolition of all the data (the latter being a more frequent occurrence than the IT trade is generally willing to admit 🙂 ).

But ‘architect’, in any real sense? I think not: that’d be about the same as saying that the guy who comes round to fix your leaky tap is a ‘plumbing architect’.

In other words, a fancy ‘upmarketing’ label for a fairly ordinary job. (Yes, still a difficult one, perhaps, but not much compared with trying to grasp the full complexities of Reality Department, as a real consultant or architect must do). Much like the mis-use of ‘consultant’ a few years back, then, which still lingers on in its rancid way, and which therefore ‘down-markets’ the work of any real consultant. Or enterprise-architect, in this case.


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