Three years ago, demand for enterprise architects — those who focus on building a holistic view of an organization’s strategy, processes, information, and IT assets in order to support the most efficient and secure IT environment — was declining. Some were whispering that the days of the architects were over. But this unique skillset has recently staged a major comeback: According to the Harvey Nash/KPMG 2017 CIO Survey, enterprise architecture (EA) has become the fastest-growing, in-demand skillset in technology, up 26% from last year’s report.

In fact, the second and third-fastest growing in-demand skillsets — Business Process Management and Data and Analytics — while separate, are key components of an architecture, and buttress the push for enterprise architecture expertise, says KPMG.

Why the shift? Most notably, new digital innovations make for a more complex project landscape, which means re-architecting may help organizations grapple with a world in which customers expect to use one channel just as easily as another, or even move between channels during a single transaction.

Enterprise Architecture, Evolved

Demand has also picked up because the 25-year-old discipline of EA has substantially evolved from its early days, when it was seen strictly as a technical way to wire up an organization’s infrastructure, says Roland Woldt, Director of KPMG’s Enterprise Architecture practice at KPMG. “Standardization was the big topic at that time,” he says. “IT had to get control around the efforts they created and deployed on the client’s server,” he says. Next, IT-focused EA expanded into applications — moving beyond hardware standardization and towards “getting the most bang for your buck” — as well as integrating data into different applications.

Independently, a second stream of thought around efficiency emerged: Business Process Management (BPM). BPM homed in on process improvement and documentation with a focus on reducing the gap between business and IT. Based on that premise, EA organizations were created whose underpinnings were based on BPM methods, but confusion came up as they developed their own language that was neither “business” nor “IT” — forgetting how to communicate what value they bring to the table.

Now, the pendulum has swung back toward a focus on tangible solutions and results with a modern twist — the idea that all layers need to be integrated, including strategy, business, applications and infrastructure…