Saturday, January 01, 2011


Enterprise Architecture, Autonomy and Industry Analysts

Many industry analysts have worked in the past for large enterprises in the capacity of Architects and CIOs. I did some analysis to figure out why they became industry analysts...

A quick search using LinkedIn shows that the majority of people who leave enterprises to become industry analysts never return. A happy perspective says that they are interested in opening new doors, while a more pragmatic view says they are attempting to close a few doors as well. So, in order to understand this perspective, lets first take a look at what new doors does it open.

Whenever an industry analyst leaves their firm, there is a high affinity to going to work for a software vendor. The role they take on tends to be very strategic in nature and usually involves figuring out how to one-up the competition. In this role, they don't necessarily lose the benefits of becoming an industry analyst such as attending industry conferences but do get to scale back on travel somewhat.

In terms of the door that the industry analyst closes when they depart from working for large enterprises is the bureaucracy. Analysts don't have to expend as much energy on perception management as say an Enterprise Architect. Likewise, they only focus on strategic issues where an Enterprise Architect may get drawn into less desirable efforts such as outsourcing or even production support. The ability to have a job that is 99% strategic can be much more rewarding.

Let's face it, jobs that involve operations tend to result in long hours in order to make little progress. Being so connected and awaiting the phone call for the next crisis is simply tiring and for most people with Architect backgrounds, downright boring. Independent of being able to escape operations along with also not having to focus on perceptions, analysts get other rewards.

In my mind, I think there is a huge difference between travel and commute. For purposes of this blog, we will separate the definitions based on when the clock starts. For example, if you are a sales engineer working for RedHat and you live in the Hartford CT area, you may need to travel to New York City to do a presentation at 10am. So in order to make it there on time, you leave your house at 7am. Once you are done with the presentation you decide to visit a few other folks in the city and return home early while doing work on the train. This is travel. Now, imagine you are an Accenture consultant having to get on a plane and fly to Newark to visit an insurance client. The time spent getting from one place to another comes out of your personal time as the clock doesn't start until you arrive. This is commuting.

So, analysts do a lot more in the way of traveling while the rest of the world does a lot more in the way of commuting. when an analyst gets on a plane, he/she is probably going to meet new faces each and every week, whereas the lowly Accenture consultant traveling to Newark is going to meet/interact with the same people this week, this month and so on.

Many analyst firms have a work from anywhere policy. Ever notice when you are having a scheduled dialog with an analyst, you never really have a clue as to where they are located? Even for very progressive enterprises, they still haven't caught up to the level of maturity that are afforded in the world of industry analysis. For example, if an enterprise let's their employees work from home, home is a literal destination. Industry analysts are afforded a level of autonomy that simply doesn't align with enterprise thinking. Imagine a restless industry analyst who for whatever reason, gets tired of sitting at their desk at home. They can simply pick up their laptop and phone and go sit in Starbucks and work. An analyst isn't required to tell his/her boss about this and on the remote chance they did, it would be viewed as an annoying form of communication because no one actually cares. Contrast this with most enterprises that want to physically know where you are located during core working hours.

If you work in a large enterprise, you are more than likely performing a few tasks that probably doesn't fit your job description. Let's refer to this as a Hobby job. Sometimes, being physically available causes one to be assigned misc tasks. While it is possible that an analyst could be asked to do something strange by one of their clients, we know that in a model with very high bill rates, tasks that aren't truly strategic will be short-lived. Sometimes, affordability causes its own challenges.

Have you considered the fact that in becoming an analyst, your employer is actually going to commit significant resources to personally branding you? when was the last time your boss ever said he wanted to spend time making you look good? Analysts thrive on brand and it is in the best interests of analyst firms to expend lots of energy branding their employees. Enterprises on the other hand, can view their employees simply as human resources that can be leveraged any way they see fit. Analyst firms truly understand that people are its most important asset, a concept that is lost on most enterprises...

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