A Building is Only As Good As Its Foundation
View from Infosys Office at the Rockefeller Center in New York,USA
Pick any great city of the world. Perhaps you live and work in one of them. Now picture the skyline, filled with beautiful buildings, bridges, and infrastructure.
A while ago,I happened to be in the company's New York City office for a string of meetings. And I clearly recollect the skyline - the view as I looked out the window of historic Rockefeller Center to see soaring skyscrapers of every conceivable shape and size. What's most amazing about the taking in of this spectacular view is something a civil engineer once told me: That what you see above ground in any city is only half the picture. There's as much infrastructure below the ground as there is above it.
What we can see from street level and up is quite beautiful. But it's the guts of a city - things like transit tunnels, foundations, and power lines - that really make it tick. These elements may not always be pretty, but they're the type of things that ensure everyone who is in the city (mostly above ground) can lead productive lives. They are the systems that deliver power and people and water. And they are structures that form the firm foundations on which tall skyscrapers can sit.
I was recently thinking about this extraordinary above-ground/below-ground parity when I'd heard that a prestigious educational society in the United States had singled out Infosys for its unique Connect Architecture program. We started the Connect Architecture program as a vibrant community of practicing architects, where members would share and learn from each other's experience. IT architects are not unlike the traditional architects who design the buildings I can see out my window. That is to say, they have years of training under their belts. They're creative, they're born leaders, and they possess extensive cross-disciplinary knowledge.
Yet whereas traditional architects get to point to beautiful buildings they've designed, an IT architect must be content knowing that what he has designed is mostly unseen. It would be like a traditional architect only designing the underground infrastructure I've just mentioned: It's incredibly vital to every city, but most people don't know it's there. What's also similar to the subterranean elements of traditional architecture is that most of the organizations that rely on IT architecture take it for granted. They might have no idea just how value-added it is to the enterprise, but they'll speak up when they have a problem with, say, their Web browsing or video conferencing.
Which brings up another element to just how important IT architects are to creating and maintaining effective organizations. There will be a time in the not-so-distant future when there won't be as much travel just to attend a string of meetings. What we now call video conferencing will become so sophisticated that it will be very difficult to justify the need to travel for face-to-face meetings. Continued advances in how companies connect all of their employees and clients have profound implications. To be sure, a major implication is cost savings. But there are so many more ways IT architecture is going to change the way we do business. Mobility will mean more about how our ideas move around than how our physical bodies do.
All of these exciting developments are derived from the "below-ground infrastructure" of a company. Stuff that keeps IT architects very busy. The rapidly evolving technology of the IT world also demands that its architects stay ahead of these developments. It's why the Infosys program Connect Architecture is so noteworthy. It includes the 3,000 IT architects at our own company but also the ones at partner and client firms as well as young, aspiring architects around the world. The Aspiring Architect initiative, a program of Connect Architecture, is the first-of-its-kind in the IT industry. We're training talented engineers to be world-class IT solution architects.
Training and career nurturing is important because there's a worldwide shortage of IT architects. I can assure you that the world will be a more streamlined place if we have more IT architects. And our company will definitely want to continue holding on to the best ones. Our Connect Architecture program enables members to grow from the basic level of acquiring skills to mastering these and eventually emerging as a thought leader. You see, a building is only as good as its foundation. That's why having IT architecture that's best-in-class is vital to keeping an organization ahead of the curve.