2020 has been a hard year for the world. We have faced challenges we once only predicted. We have lost more people, more real living people, than we have to many of our greatest conflicts, wars or epidemics combined. And yet here we are fighting for, working for, believing in, the next year, the solution, the answer. This is what drives me forward everyday. The idea that we can find something together that we haven’t found before, that when we work together while still retaining our individual zeal, our ideas, our leadership, our belief in ourselves that we can do things we never dreamed of doing before.

I and the staff at Iasa hope and pray that your 2021 is wonderful. Whether the vaccine gets us all the way there or not, it is the hope, the joy, the family, that matter, and for each of you we hope that 2021 will bring all of that to you.

People often ask me why I started Iasa, and why I keep going. We will be 19 years old in Feb 2021. And many of those years were not easy, many of them were taxing in ways I had never imagined when I started the organization. But in a small way the worlds response to COVID is something I get to experience all the time, a very large group of people who see a problem, a solution, a better way, and work to get there, sometimes with their worlds burning down around them. I remember a time one of the companies I worked with had their order management system go down. We slept in shifts under desks, in corners, in meeting rooms and in one case a guy on top of a meeting table. It took us two weeks to find and fix the issue. It wasn’t pretty for the company or the team, but that sense of togetherness is what drives me and what drives Iasa.

2020 was a tiring year for most of us. One of my friends and one of the best architects I know launched the Irish COVID identification application while caring for and helping his children through online education. Another one did the same in Brazil. One of the most amazing architects and Chief Digital Officer’s I’ve ever known got medical supplies to people with drones while delivering care to thousands through collaborative technology for one of the best hospital companies in the United States. Story after story of technologists and architects making a difference.

Iasa trained, built, worked with and aided where we could. We are proud to have taken over and begun publishing architect focused articles with Architecture & Governance Magazine with George Paras and Holt Hackney. You can expect great things from the magazine in the coming year, one of the greatest publications in the world dedicated solely to architecture. And not just enterprise or business or software architects, but all of us. Iasa has delivered over 35 essential articles and sets of tools in the new body of knowledge and working with partners begun a series of architecture focused reports based on survey responses from hundreds. We have developed a structured canvas approach, a maturity model and a stakeholder management system that is helping internal teams and consulting organizations streamline their architecture practices. We have delivered over 50 new modules on architecture practice and excellence and grown our certifications across the board. All of these are results based on architects who give their free time to try to make our successes easier, faster, cheaper but most of all better and more repeatable.

In 2021, I expect us to do even more. We have aggressive goals for the profession, and we hope to go beyond even those expectations.

Digital Advantage: We have spent many years studying and working with digital natives versus digital colonists. While digital transformation is the engine of change, digital advantage is the real goal executives and industry need. It is the difference between going to the gym, and having lost the weight or put on the muscle. Digital Advantage is what every organization seeks, transformation is the techniques we use to get there. Iasa through the ITABoK has developed an Architecture Driven Digital Advantage method that any organization can use to achieve these outcomes. In 2021 we will be working together with our services partners to work with every organization we can reach to adopt and adapt these tools to their own advantage.

Information and Technology Body of Knowledge (ITABoK) 3.0 and Framework Unification: The power of a descriptive, as opposed to a prescriptive, framework is that it is built to inform and provide tools to make work easier as opposed to prescribe and control activities. The ITABoK provides an opportunity to unify and connect the frameworks within the architecture community, not by taking their place, but by allowing them to connect through basic concepts, techniques and practices which can be customized more easily than ever before. SAFe, TOGAF, BizBOK, FEAF, MODAF, DODAF, etc., all share simple concepts, things like repository, decisions, tradeoffs, scope, context, role, goals, capabilities, and much more. The ITABoK, which can guide small or large teams on its own, strives to connect not just frameworks, but practitioners. Our friends at the BA Guild have done amazing work on business architecture, but we need to make that work with and stick with solution, software, information, infrastructure, domain and enterprise architects. The same goes for The Open Group. It is time we start connecting practice and outcomes and move away from framework, or worse specialization specific, bodies of knowledge.

Vibrant communities of practice: All professions are local in the end, or that is our belief. The goal of Iasa is truly vibrant communities of practice which stand at the center of professional capabilities and ethics. These communities, which Iasa calls chapters, provide thought leadership, research, professional guidelines and local growth and education of professionals as well as university and government affiliation. Sadly, COVID took away much of the growth we were seeing in our communities, whether from work or from social distancing, but we hope with vaccines and new online models that 2021 will bring our communities of practice back together. We have already organized our first Chief Architect Forum meetings and calendar for the year as well as have a leader for our Spanish speaking architecture communities, there is much more in the works here and I believe 2021 will be the year that architecture communities become more important than ever.

Reference Architectures: When we think of reference architectures we tend to think of products like BIAN or Azure or AWS reference models. In 2021 Iasa intends to create and curate architecture examples for as many reference architectures as we can, from the smallest example of a well written architecturally significant requirement to full blown technology strategies. We are excited to announce the first annual Iasa Architecture Competition to judge the best architecture artifacts and case studies in the industry and share them with our members.

Business and Technical Learning Library: We have begun building a library of learning focused on specific skills, competencies, activities and scenarios and in 2021 we expect to turn this into a total learning library partnering with the worlds largest online learning systems to deliver architecture techniques to anyone who wants or needs them. Not only framework or product specific skills but also tools and techniques that have served the greatest architects in the world.

Topic Based Learning and Certification: Iasa’s first mission was to build communities, then we looked at competencies and skills and what makes someone an architect, then we focused on career milestones through board certification. Finally, we worked on a general practice of architecture that works for small, medium, and huge architecture teams. We have accomplished all of that (with a long way to go before we are truly done), but we are extremely excited to be building sub-specialization bodies of knowledge this year. Integration, Agile Architecture, Cloud, AI, and many more Topic Areas (specific knowledge areas focused on a particular technique or technology)

Formal country level adoption and policy: We may be closer to this than you think. The professions in IT are maturing at a faster and faster rate due to increased oversight, legislation and impact on society, healthy and finance. I firmly believe we will see formal introduction of legislation that directly requires higher levels of professional ethics and certification within the next 5 years. Iasa is committed to seeing every architect who is responsible for a critical system has the level of understanding and skill necessary to ensure success.

Updated Skills Taxonomy: Iasa built the first ever skills taxonomy for architects in 2007. We have updated it many times through the years but it is time for a full overhaul. In 2021 we plan to update the 5 pillars, competencies and skills in a way that will allow organizations to fine tune their staffing, hiring and competency models to ensure their architects and extended team members like product owners, senior developers and IT managers have skills they need to meet the ever-increasing demand on technology and technologists.

Here is to an amazing new year,

Paul T. Preiss, Founder and CEO

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The Business Innovation Leadership and Technology (BIL-T) conference series is a place for global conversations and debate on big picture perspectives and how to make a better future for our organizations. The event covers a wide range of relevant and visionary topics and brings together the people who are designing the future: architects, business and technology leaders, futurists and other world changers.

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