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Life as an Enterprise Architect is like a box of chocolate

….you never know what you will be working on. Ulrika Thor writes what it is like to work with the wide scope of Tieto’s IT architecture.

Ulrika Thor / September 26, 2019

What is Enterprise Architecture (EA)? Briefly, EA is a specialisation within IT architecture. EA's have a comprehensive perspective on strategy, information, processes and IT assets. Our main goal is to ensure business and IT alignment, focusing on the holistic view of the entire organisation. This is quite a key role in any large organisation – especially in a tech company like Tieto.

Improving the internal IT landscape of a tech company

Today, we are three Enterprise Architects in Tieto’s Chief Information Office (CIO), which means we are quite busy! Especially, as we get involved with strategy work, portfolio alignment, and transformation initiatives, which are many at Tieto.

Unlike EA consultants who go out and help customers, in CIO we work to improve Tieto’s own internal IT tools, processes and information handling. However, like EA consultants, we provide hands-on support in various internal projects to help identify, propose, guide and implement new or upgraded solutions. Personally, this kind of role is perfect for me. I have always loved to learn, and the combination of strategy and long-term planning together with practical work helps me stay relevant and up to speed with the latest changes in this field and Tieto.

I have the privilege of focusing mainly on the areas of Human Capital Management (HCM), Collaboration, Sales and Marketing. All these areas are fast moving and innovation prone, very eager to adopt and try new solutions. Keeping track of a few different areas really keeps me on my toes. I constantly need to learn new technologies and ways of working. It has also enabled me to build a wide and rich social network of amazing individuals in different parts of the organisation.

The traditional view on Enterprise Architecture is outdated

Enterprise Architects have historically been criticised for sitting far away from the real work of operations, development and innovations, and to be hiding in “ivory towers”. By this, the critics mean that we spend a lot of time out of site from the public eye working on long-term plans that are not easily visible or easily digestible for the rest of the organisation.

This is not a Tieto-specific observation but a global legacy or baggage that most of us practicing Enterprise Architects today have been subjected to. I am not saying that this criticism is completely unfounded, on the contrary! It means that we need to embrace the criticism in order to learn and improve.

I have learned that two key skills that can help Architects overcome these challenges are communication and collaboration. Working in multiple projects is a great way to improve communication skills and get real-time feedback. Collaboration ensures that I am constantly challenged, which greatly improves my work and increases business benefit.

Open source culture beats the “ivory tower”

Working as an Enterprise Architect in CIO at Tieto is different from the traditional views about our profession. Our “ivory tower” is in an open landscape close to the departments, with whom we collaborate. Our stakeholders are now part of my professional and personal social network.

For me, the combination of strategy work together with hands-on project work is a perfect way to learn while benefitting the whole organisation.

It is true that I have a lot on my plate – but lucky for me, I love chocolate!

Ulrika Thor
Lead Enterprise Architect

Ulrika has worked with Enterprise and IT architecture most of her working life. Outside of Tieto, Ulrika is a board member of Iasa Sweden, and she has written several books, whitepapers and recommendations about Enterprise and IT architecture. Recently, she has teamed up with Futuristas to inspire more women and girls to make a career for themselves in the tech industry.


Ulrika Thor

Lead Enterprise Architect

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