With a few certifications and some experience, virtually anyone can call themselves an "IT architect." For many managers and business owners, the role of IT architect sounds so nebulous and difficult to define that it becomes impossible to tell whether they truly have an IT architect or merely an IT administrator.
Simply having a person in an architect role is not enough; being an effective IT leader requires you to have a true architect for the purposes of both development and innovation.
The Role of an IT Architect
Many businesses are confused regarding the role of an IT architect. An architect isn't a general contractor; the role of an IT architect isn't to actually build and maintain your IT network just as a building architect's role isn't to pour a foundation or install a roof.
Instead, an architect is hired to design your IT infrastructure. It is the IT architect who will determine what resources your business will need and decide the best, most cost-effective methods of delivery. Your engineers, operators, and administrators will actually implement and maintain the architect's plans.
Does your IT architect produce blueprints in the form of plans and documentation? Or is your IT architect really an engineer?
The Continued Education of an IT Architect
IT architects have to be constantly learning if they are to remain knowledgeable about current security standards and methods of organizing their infrastructure. IT architects are highly skilled, highly trained, and highly motivated individuals; many of them have over a decade or more of experience.
In fact, the certification process for an IT architect often requires a significant amount of time in the field. Architects without significant experience (particularly those who haven't been instrumental in developing a wide variety of systems) may not have the skill necessary to properly develop an IT infrastructure. IT architects have to learn from many different environments and must be constantly improving if they are to create your stable, adaptive infrastructure.
IT Architects Must Be Personable
By the time an IT professional achieves the title of IT architect, the stereotype of the lone IT worker must be eradicated; IT architects must be personable and approachable, as they need to deal directly with a wide variety of individuals.
An IT architect will interface with IT engineers, IT help desk staff, chief technology officers, and even the end user; otherwise they may not have the information necessary to create the best possible environment.
When upgrades are needed or large shifts have to be completed, the IT architect needs to be seen as a leader. If your IT architect doesn't have the appropriate people skills, they will not be effective.
What if you don't have an IT architect? IT architects can be contracted on a case-by-case basis to develop your IT systems and to be on-call when issues occur. But whether you want an IT architect on staff or not, it's imperative you have access to one if you want to have the best possible system.