Industry analysis involves observation and analysis of factors such as market behaviors, competitive forces and, financial, regulatory, socio-economic and technological trends that influence the domain. Industry analysis delivers insights into business drivers and key success factors relevant to the domain.
Industry analysis is a business owned activity to assess the existing business environment and its competitive position. It is one of the preliminary steps in strategic planning. An architect will interpret an industry analysis and combine it with knowledge of existing and emerging technology to define domain architecture, IT strategy and future state. The architect works with business and IT leadership in the strategic planning process and uses industry analysis as an input to drive alignment between business and technology strategy. Business stakeholders require architect to function as advisory, guiding architecture direction to address prevailing business problems. Industry analysis capability enhances an architect’s involvement in understanding business needs and facilitates a consultative approach in requirements development.
Architects should have an understanding of business, both in context of business fundamentals and domain processes, in order to meaningfully engage with business stakeholders. The IT architect is expected to keep track of trends so that their technology and business skills are constantly improved.
Industry analysis requires an architect to develop a broad external perspective and analytical skills to research information and interpret data drawn from disparate sources. Even if utilizing secondary research, an architect will still have to work on the “last mile” to apply the proper context for the technology strategy or initiative on hand. Common tasks in industry analysis involve drawing information from multiple sources related to an industry. These include business, trade sources and technology analysts following the domain. Information is commonly available through industry communities, forums, publications and data. Architects study technology adoption by peers or first movers in the industry, as well as interpreting emerging technology trends that will have relevance to business. Architects build the domain architecture and incorporate changes necessitated by industry shifts.
Industry analysis enables development of domain architecture and is a valuable capability to move an architect from technical architecture to business solution provider role. It is an important requirement in the career path of an Enterprise or Business Architect. Through mastery of industry analysis architects can communicate value of architecture in business terms and increase visibility of architecture. By a thorough understanding of industry, architects can potentially define “game changing” technology solutions and become advisors to the business.
A key challenge for majority of architects is that they have a background software engineering or other information technology disciplines. Architects may not have formal training or education in business fundamentals or an industry. They may also have limited access to industry knowledge within the business or have to take up industry analysis as an individual initiative. As business leadership may usually engage external advisory organizations for analysis, architects may experience limited involvement in the strategy process.