March 14, 2018

How to Become a Digital Architect? – A Quick Reference Guide to the Skills Required

BY :     March 14, 2018

I conduct a lot of training sessions for Capgemini University and one question that invariably comes up in almost every session is about how one becomes a Digital Architect. There seems to be a lot of confusion around what a Digital Architect does and the skills required to become one.

This level of confusion is quite understandable, given how much things have changed over the last ten years. Almost all these changes stem from how much the role of IT itself has changed over time. Per the traditional model, IT used to support business and was mostly focused on building apps for internal consumption or for the organization. For instance, back in the day if you wanted to withdraw money from your bank account you would have to physically visit the bank and go to the concerned counter with your passbook or chequebook. The bank employee would then ask you a few details and refer to their own software application to update details or validate this transaction. It was this internal banking software for which the banks IT Department was responsible.

Today, however, with the coming of the Digital Revolution, customers can directly transact using an app on their mobile phone. Thus IT today is not just focused on supporting business operations but is directed towards the consumer. This has led to an explosion is the number of apps developed over time, with an app available for almost every conceivable need today. With these trends, the customer has taken center stage and expects very high standards of service, convenience and user-friendliness. If these demands are not met, they usually don’t twice before uninstalling or replacing a particular app.

All of this has led to the need to better understand customers and has brought in a whole new set of technologies beyond the traditional ones like SAP, Oracle and Java. This has led to a situation where IT professionals need to keep updating their skills regularly or risk becoming redundant as new technologies are coming up all the time. In addition, it has given rise to the need for both business and IT to understand each other’s domains. It is precisely these two factors, viz. this fast-changing technological landscape and the need to upskill and cross-train that is the cause of much confusion about the skills required to be a Digital Architect.

In such a fast-changing landscape, what does one need to train on in order to be a Digital Architect? Which technologies does one need to know and how hands-on does one need to be in each of them?  I get queries like this all the time and it is to answer them that I have put together the following diagram:

The bottom panel of the diagram shows the basic foundation blocks that are absolutely required in order to become a Digital Architect. These are skills that you absolutely need to master if you want to be a Digital Architect.

The middle panel shows specialized technology blocks. The thumb rule I have made for myself with regard to these areas/technologies is that I need to understand at least two of these areas in-depth and have sufficient understanding of each of the other areas to at least have a first-level discussion with a client before I pull in an SME to help.

Finally, the third panel lists various business domains, in at least one of which you need to have significant expertise. This is the kind of organization or alignment in place in Capgemini offices globally, where every enterprise or solutions architect is essentially aligned to a particular business domain about which he needs to be well informed. So if you are a Digital Architect aligned to a domain like Smart Energy, you must be aware of the business landscape in your domain and be able to provide or suggest technical solutions to business problems in that domain.

Following this simple schema will allow you to build a career as a Digital Architect. However, keep in mind that new technologies are constantly evolving and new ones coming up fast. To be successful in today’s scenario, you will need to devote a significant amount of time towards training. Personally, I create a training calendar at the beginning of every year with the objective of adding at least 1 capability to my resume every quarter. If you are serious about creating a career as a Digital Architect, I would suggest you do the same.

Meanwhile, I am always available to answer your questions and I would encourage you to drop a comment below in case you have any queries.

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