What does an IT Technical Architect do and how can they help your organisation or company achieve your digital transformation goals? In this Q&A, Ben Owens shares a typical day in the life of a technical architect to provide an overview of the role and how he supports our customers.
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Q: Please tell me a little bit about yourself:
Ben Owens: “I’m Ben and work as Technical Architect at Cloud Business. I joined the business back in 2014. I noticed the the shift from on premises to more cloud-centric technologies and Cloud Business were definitely more progressive and forward-thinking in that area than many others.”
Q: Can you give a brief overview of the role of a Technical Architect?
BO: “As a Technical Architect in the delivery team I’m involved in several areas of our projects. From pre-sales, scoping project, technical project management through to implementation and I’m heavily involved with the lifecycle of many of our delivery project.
“Every project is different and in every engagement the key is understanding the customer’s objectives, providing options and leading with our recommended approach.”
Q: How do you start your day?
BO: “I have two young daughters at primary school, so I’ll often get up prior to them to check my emails, Twitter and news feeds. My wife and I both work full time, so we’ll try to split school drop off and pick up duties. The benefit of the current working from home scenario is that we pretty much always spend breakfast together in the morning. After drop off, it’s to my desk and starting off the day with current projects and calls I have scheduled.”
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk?
BO: “When I first get to my desk, or more likely on phone before I get to my desk, I’m usually checking technical social feeds and technical blogs or news. Unless they are quick reads, I tend to save them into a Microsoft ToDo list for reading at some point during the week. Because of the fast pace of change in the industry, there is always an abundance of news and blogs regarding new solutions, product updates or previews.”
Q: How did you become a Technical Architect and what qualifications and experience do you need?
BO: “Like many others I started off in IT on the service desk initially. From there I transitioned to work in client facing consultancy roles mainly with proprietary software. I made the switch to more broader technologies around 10 years ago where I’ve primarily worked with Microsoft technologies. I initially joined Cloud Business as a consultant and progressed to Technical Architect a few years later.
“Holding good technical experience and aptitude, and staying up to date with qualifications in your area of expertise is obviously key to any IT role. But the ability to demonstrate technology functionality, lay out options and get the tone right for your audience is an essential part of the role.”
Q: What does a typical working day look like for you?
BO: “As a first port of call, I’m usually checking in or liaising with team members on the projects I’m working on, planning the day/weeks’ tasks. The days can differ greatly depending on my priorities; I split my time between pre-sales, design and implementation work, workshops and assisting the team.
“In the past week I’ve been working primarily on a Windows 10 autopilot projects’, conditional access designs and a BYOD/Corp mobile device strategies.”
Q: Do you stop for lunch or do you power through?
BO: “I’ll generally try to stop at lunch and get away from desk and ‘try’ to leave my phone to prevent me from checking my emails and IM’s. Now my children are back at school, I tend to take a shorter lunch and instead use that time to pick up my children from school later in the day.”
Q: How has working from home affected your working day?
BO: “I’ve been lucky enough to have the space and set-up to work from home prior to March last year. I had worked from home somewhat previously to that, so it wasn’t too much of a shift. Personally I’ve found that working from home, in the main, has given me greater flexibility to balance work and family life.
“What I do miss is that casual interaction with the team face-to-face which in my opinion can’t be replicated virtually and often helps build good working relationships and the sharing of ideas.”
Q: When do you end your working day?
BO: “I don’t typically finish at 5pm every day. I usually etch out time in the evening to read previously saved technical blogs, test and work on new tech to stay up to date and share knowledge with the team. I generally find that after hours provides time to focus with the least distractions.”
Q: And how does a Technical Architect relax?
BO: “Outside of work, my wife and I try to get out and get some fresh air with the kids and get away from our desks for a walk or sometimes of the bikes. At the end of the week we have ‘family film friday’ where we all get a turn to pick a movie (don’t be under the illusion that’s the only TV we watch). I often try to do arts and crafts with the girls and have been getting more involved with my eldest daughter’s enjoyment for Lego. For exercise I play football on a Sunday evening with other school dads and also on a Monday evening in 6 a side league; it’s good to have sport back.”