No business really sets out to simply develop a computer system (OK we know some exceptions!); no, they generally set out to solve a problem that is facing an area of their business. The solutions to such problems are invariably multi-faceted involving the people that work in their business, the things that they do; how they do them and how those processes are managed. Information Technology can often play a role but the solution design will need to consider much more than IT alone.
The practice of Solution Architecture produces holistic designs to specific business problems; including the design of the technical aspects of the solution (computers, software, databases, integrations, etc.) but also considers the changes to existing work processes, people, partners, services and revenue generation possibilities.
All large systems development initiatives need the direction of Solution Architecture but often set out to obtain it in a disjoint fashion by assigning the responsibilities for various design documents to numerous team members or organisations. The role of the Solution Architect is to ensure that all design elements work together to produce a clear, integrated and consistent picture of the required solution.
Solution Architecture is particularly important to geospatial projects which are naturally inclined span divisional boundaries and business applications through the integration of shared capabilities and data. The introduction of enterprise geospatial capabilities requires that issues such as data standards and data ownership be addressed and it is often found that multiple divisions within an organisation have historically maintained the same data. Geospatial systems also have a habit of requiring access to significant integration middleware capabilities in order to facilitate the event-driven exchange of geospatial records. The Solution Architect must design for these integration needs; these are often the most technically challenging aspects of a project are require a specialist appreciation and knowledge.