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Image: Why an Enterprise Architect is Like Tesla

Who would ever have predicted that more than 325,000 people would be willing to stand in line to pre-pay for a big-ticket piece of machinery like it was a new Apple device or Star Wars movie? Apparently, Tesla did. In early April, when Tesla introduced its beautifully designed new Model 3, I thought about getting up early and joining that long line. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a thought as much as a daydream. A really good daydream.

I didn’t reserve a Model 3, but I did do some thinking about how Tesla’s disruption of the automobile industry is similar to the initiatives I hear about from the enterprise architects I talk to. No, seriously:

Enterprise Architects & Innovation

Even during the economic downturn of 2008, when other automakers were cutting back, Tesla was investing heavily in innovative technology. Similarly, it’s the job of the enterprise architect to help the organization drive innovation, plan efficiently for the future, and help the executive team understand where best to focus future technology spending.

Enterprise Architects & Visibility

Tesla is deliberately building visibility into its IT environment — and using what it sees to change the business:

  • It shares its technology platforms with Elon Musk’s other companies, primarily SpaceX, so they can all see and learn from commonalities across their assets and technology. For example, Tesla knows from SpaceX that aluminum is a fraction of the weight of steel but much stronger. That gave Tesla the idea of using aluminum in the body and chassis of the Model S for better performance and safety.
  • It learns how to improve its products by capturing data about each individual driver and sharing it across the entire Tesla ecosystem. Essentially, when one car’s autopilot feature learns something, the whole fleet learns it, helping the autopilot feature perform better over time.

Enterprise architects do the exact same thing. Having visibility into all their IT assets lets the enterprise architect understand compatibilities and the lack thereof, end of life (EOL) information, and a myriad of asset and technology scenarios across departments, business units, and the entire organization.

Enterprise Architects & Elon Musk

I’m not saying that every enterprise architect is a driven billionaire entrepreneur in the rough. But like Musk, enterprise architects see (or ought to see) the bigger picture. Tesla’s stated mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport,” and while the company isn’t yet profitable, it’s making the bold moves necessary to achieve that mission. Similarly, enterprise architects need to understand, from a strategic point of view, why and how mapping out and investing in IT infrastructure is so vital to reaching specific business goals.

Just as Tesla is driving (no pun intended) innovation and competition in its market, the enterprise architect has the opportunity to do the same for their organizations. The challenges are great, but so are the rewards of seizing that opportunity in the digital, hybrid cloud, and on-premise world.

Do you agree that enterprise architects are like Tesla? If you want to discuss it further — or want to tell me about your Tesla Model 3 when you get it — give us a call.