An enterprise architect is a true hybrid. You must be able to help business people of all disciplines work in problem spaces that cover the external eco-system, business models, operating models, processes, organisation, technology and information. The down side is that you almost certainly will not be an expert in any one area.
You will be a jack of all trades, master of none. This leaves you open to accusations, particularly from IT architects, of being a lightweight, of lacking depth, of being technically weak and out of date. This can be painful for an enterprise architect with a background and reputation as a technology guru.
Business people tend to be kinder. They appreciate someone who has come over to their side. They need IT people who understand and view their problems as business issues. They want an honest broker. But you are not one of them and you will be in deep trouble if you start to think that you are, but you are trying.
Being a hybrid that has moved from IT, being a true enterprise architect, puts you in the middle. You are no longer in IT, but you can’t transition to the business. You can add huge value by bridging the gap, you can also get lonely because you just don’t fit.
To remain valuable, you must be learning all the time. When a new technology arrives, you need to understand the key features. What business value can it add? What is just hype? Can you anticipate the gotchas? How does it supersede old solutions and address issues in older technologies? What is the new language that goes with it, how does this relate to the old language?
Growing business capability is equally important. This happens at several levels – what are industry trends, what is the latest thinking for improving business operations, who are the new entrants in the market, where are the threats, where are the opportunities, what is happening on the shop floor, how is technology changing the business?
You won’t have time to be an expert technologist but you will be able to engage in strategic decision making and set a technical direction that delivers business goals – and that is where an IT oriented enterprise architect can add value, not by indulging in technical mastery.