Engagement is the theme for Enterprise Architecture today

I’m seeing many signs of an evolving role and recognition for enterprise architecture.  This is changing how we ourselves see the practice of EA.

For example, one of the more frequent inquiries I get from EA leaders is around customer experience and the customer lifecycle - where our clients want to know how EA should help translate business customer experience goals into architecture.  Our inquiries around mobile are less around the technology and more around shaping an enterprise digital strategy.  The questions we get around Big Data have shifted from technology towards how gain better insights on a company’s markets.  

‘Engagement’ is the underlying theme of this evolution.  Companies need to build Systems of Engagement - and EAs are at the front-lines of decisions.  But also, EAs are stepping  up their engagement with their business leaders to provide the value their busness needs. 

If you also see this evolution, and are successfully addressing engagement of either form in your EA program, I’d like to invite you to submit your story for the 2014 Enterprise Architecture Award, sponsored by Forrester Research, InfoWorld and Penn State University’s Center for Enterprise Architecture.

As with previous years, we are recognizing leading EA programs, not a specific project.  We’d like to hear from programs that:

  • Have re-shaped how their business plans and governs business technology strategy
  • Have  helped their organization move from ‘mobile as a project’ to ‘mobile as an enterprise strategy’
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2013 Enterprise Architecture Award Winners – All About Business

The practice of enterprise architecture is about your business – guiding decisions and designing solutions for better, more sustainable business outcomes. 

Pretty much every EA leader would agree with this statement – but only a small percentage can say that this describes their program. Whether due to the situation they are in, or their own leanings, their impact is mostly on IT outcomes. It’s in this context that it’s such a pleasure for me to announce the winners of the 2013 InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards

Two words stand out in all these winning submissions:  “business” and “transformation.” These EA programs all share a singular focus on being central to how their business, not just their IT function, evolves.   

  • Many in our profession have said that EA should report into the business, not IT.  The EA program in the National Bank of Abu Dhabi; the second largest lending bank in the United Arab Emirates, does so. In their submission:  Building the Global Business Transformation Roadmap, they describe how the credibility and impact they had when they were part of IT lead to them being moved into the Transformation Management Office, reporting to the CEOThey are now responsible for the analysis and transformation road maps, transformation program design, and balanced scorecards for the overall bank as it seeks expand to 45 countries in five years.     
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Healthcare – an industry transformed by technology. Could you be the Forrester analyst to cover it?

The healthcare industry is undergoing transformation.  What’s driving this?  A wide range of factors, from new regulations and government programs, to new treatments and approaches,  to perpetually rising costs.  To thrive in this environment, , Forrester believes healthcare providers and payers must embrace four critical imperatives that will provide the most transformational impact:

  • The Age of the Customer.  Health insurance has historically focused on plans and subscribers, and healthcare providers on patients in treatment.  But both of these industries – like many others, are now seeing the need to be Customer-centric, and to engage their customers in a holistic and personalized way.
  • Mobile engagement.  These customers use mobile as an extension of their daily life.  Smart healthcare providers and payers are using this to provide services to keep their customers healthy, not just treat them when they come to a clinic.
  • Insights through Big Data and analytics.  To engage these customers, healthcare firms needs more insights into who they are, how they live, and how best to serve them.  Enter the opportunities provided by the confluence of Big Data, Social, Open Data, predictive analytics and smart business processes.
  • Digital disruption.  Healthcare is big business, dominated by big firms.  But at the other end of the spectrum are nimble innovators with mobile apps, health monitoring devices and social tools.  Are they competitors or potential partners?  How should these big firms bring digital disruption techniques into their business?
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2012 EA Award Winners — Where Are They Now?

The InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards recognize excellent EA programs — ones that due to their business focus, and strategic yet pragmatic orientation, provide sustained value to their business. I caught up with two of our 2012 winners to find out what they have been doing in the year since their award submission. I was specifically interested in hearing:

  • Have there been changes to business strategy or IT strategy since one year ago that they’ve had to respond to? 
  • What would they say has been their greatest accomplishment over the past year?
  • The priorities for their EA programs today — changes in the scope, mission, or organization?
  • What would they say is a key learning of their EA program, or the larger IT organization about making EA effective?
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The Context For EA Success Is Changing – Are You Changing For This New Context?

As architects, we all know the importance of context. The right architecture for one context – say, an organically growing company – doesn’t work for a company growing by acquisition. The right technology strategy for a medium-size American company doesn’t work for a China-based one. 

Well, the context for enterprise architecture itself is changing. We’ve got The Age Of The Customer forcing companies to transform outside-in. We have what is called technology consumerization – our business users have access to ever more powerful technology solutions independent of IT. We have digital-fueled business disruption, as described in James McQuivey’s book, Digital Disruption. And all this is driving the demand for greater business agility – the ability to quickly sense and adeptly respond to new opportunities and threats in their context.   

What a great opportunity for enterprise architecture programs! But this is only possible if they shift from a focus on cost to a focus on opportunity, change from controlling to enabling technology, and adapt their practices to the need for quickness with “just enough insight.”

If your EA program has seized these opportunities, made the changes, and is helping your business thrive, I’d like to invite you to submit your story for the InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award.

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The Outcome Focus Of World Class EA Programs

I recently had a conversation with a new EA practice leaders in the investment management business unit of a large multi-line insurance company.  They wanted to hear my perspectives on what a world-class EA program should look like.  They knew of all the traditional EA building blocks: standards and roadmaps, architecture domains, methodologies like TOGAF.  They had a long list of things to do, but were uncertain about which to tackle first, and had a nagging feeling that these had little to do with world-class EA programs.  We touched on EA maturity models, but quickly concluded that there isn’t an obvious and compelling business value proposition to simply ‘being mature’. 

The conversation shifted to outcomes – what are the outcomes of a world-class EA program?  IT cost reduction could be an outcome, and has been the raison d’etre of EA for years.  IT solution design quality could be an outcome, and has been the justification for architects for longer than EA has been around.  But these are all IT-centric outcomes.

We all know the world is changing.  Digital capabilities are radically impacting our customers, the competitive landscape, the regulatory context, and the operating models of businesses.  Kyle McNabb summarizes this very well in his blog post.  The mantra today is business agility in the face of all these radical changes.  Because of this, being IT-centric is no longer the hallmark of a world class EA program. 

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2012 EA Award Winners: Business-Focused, Strategic And Pragmatic

In Forrester’s EA Practice Playbook, we describe high-performance enterprise architecture programs as “business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic.” They are business-focused so that the direction and guidance EA provides has clear business relevance and value. They are strategic because the greatest value EA brings is to help its business to achieve its business strategies. They are pragmatic because, well, the path to strategy is never straight, and EA teams who aren’t agile in their approach get pushed aside.

This year’s InfoWorld/Forrester EA Awards program used this theme to find and recognize our 2012 winners:

  • National Grid, facing the enormous changes to the utility industry, developed an enterprisewide business capability model and made that the center of their joint business-IS planning. The result? All the way up to the C-level, EA is being recognized as a strategic change agent.
  • Scottish Widows Investment Partnership “reinvented” their EA program, centered on a business capability model developed over four weeks, and used to organize and link all the EA portfolios. They now have business managers as well as EA using their architecture planning tool.
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Why Your Company Needs You To Attend Forrester’s Business Architecture & Process Summit

The pace of business change is accelerating. The reason why it is accelerating is the mushrooming of disruptive factors: your customers expecting anytime/everywhere access to you through their mobile devices, competitors leveraging big data technology to rapidly execute on customer-centric value propositions, and new market entrants with lean business models that enable them to outmaneuver your business.

Most companies deal poorly with disruptive change. If they are the “disruptor,” seeking to use these disruptive factors to steal market share, they often run without a plan and only after, for example, a poor mobile app customer experience, realize what they should have changed. If they are the firm being disrupted, the desire for a fast response leads to knee-jerk reactions and a thin veneer of new technology on a fossilized back-office business model.

This is where the value of business architects and business process professionals comes to play: you help your company plan and execute coherent responses to disruptive factors. That’s why your company needs you to attend Forrester’s Business Architecture & Process Forum: Embracing Digital Disruption in London on October 4 and Orlando, FL on October 18–19, 2012.

  • We’ll start with James McQuivey describing how technology is changing the playing field for disruption in his keynote: The Disruptor’s Handbook: How To Make The Most Of Digital Disruption.
  • We’ll look at how firms have used technology to rethink their operating models, eliminating low-value activities to focus on what their customers value in Craig Le Clair’s Implementing The Different In The Age Of Digital Disruption.
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How To Keep Up With Reality In IT Planning

Uli Kalex from Alfabet, whom many of you know, has provided us with a guest post addressing one key fallacy which underlies much of IT’s work with their business. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment.

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As a mathematician and product manager, I strongly prefer the reliability of analysis over the uncertainty of gambling. That is why I like to go to Las Vegas . . . at least for the annual Forrester CIO and EA Forums. Thought and industry leaders from around the world get together and discuss the driving forces and challenges in IT management. As such, I experienced this year’s event as a real catalyst for discussions around the increased requirements and frustrations in IT planning — and a call to arms for IT leaders everywhere.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once famously said: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” He was talking about armed conflicts, but the statement holds a lot of truth for today’s businesses as well. In the business world, an unforeseen change can make even the most sophisticated plan obsolete overnight — be it a change in regulation, a budget cut, or a company acquisition. To survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and dynamic environment, businesses need an IT organization that shows a path to meet business objectives while being flexible and responsive enough to adapt as needed. Ultimately, the best route is always changing.

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Are You An Enterprise Architecture Success Story?

Some enterprise architecture programs become a key capability for the success of their business: ensuring aligned plans, shaping business transformations, or boosting the business value of IT. But other EA programs struggle, with nebulous missions, immature practices, and limited impact.

If the first statement describes your EA program, I’d like to invite you to submit your story for the InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award.InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award image

This will be the third year of the awards program. Past winners have ranged from global banks to government ministries, from American Express to USAA, and from Singapore to Switzerland. These organizations have become a rich source of best practices and a demonstration of what a high-performance EA program is capable of.

We have a theme for the 2012 awards: EA programs that are business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic — and demonstrate this through their practices and the value they deliver. There are many ways in which EA can show this: partnering with business transformation efforts, developing business-relevant road maps, orchestrating their business’s information assets, increasing business agility — the list is long. As with past years, submissions will be judged by your peers — heads of successful EA programs, including previous winners.

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