Build Innovation Zones Into Your Architecture

Forrester’s recent book, Empowered, describes the type of technology-based innovation by frontline employees that can cause nightmares for enterprise architects. New tools for business innovation are readily available to anyone, ranging from cloud computing and mobile apps to social networks, scripting languages, and mashups. Faced with long IT backlogs and high IT costs, frontline employees are building their own solutions to push business forward.

What worries architects is that (1) solutions built with these new tools — with little or no vetting — are being hooked to enterprise systems and data, opening potentially big risks to reliability and security, and (2) the siloed, quick-hit nature of these solutions will drive up ongoing costs of maintenance and support. Traditionally, architects use enterprise standards as their primary tool to ensure the quality, efficiency, and security of their organization’s technology base. However, when applied in the typical “lockdown” fashion, standards can stifle innovation — often because vetting a new technology takes longer than the perceived window of business opportunity.

To deal with these conflicting pressures, architects must forge a new equation between responsiveness and technology control. The business value of responsiveness, combined with the typically limited size of enterprise architecture teams, means that most organizations cannot wait for architects to vet every possible new technology. Thus, you must find ways to use architecture to navigate the tension between the business value of responsiveness and the business value of a high-quality technology base. The key is to build innovation zones into your architecture; Forrester defines these as:

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Looking For EA Or BA Marketing Best Practices

If you have an enterprise or business architecture marketing program or well-defined marketing methodology, Forrester would like to talk with you about a potential case study.  

I am initiating a research project on marketing the enterprise architecture (EA) and business architecture (BA) practices. This research will examine how EA and BA practices are promoting their value to their IT and business constituents and explore the best ways to engage and influence architecture’s stakeholders. This research aims to illuminate best practices that can guide enterprise architects in designing a marketing program that can successfully engage the larger organization and develop support for EA and BA initiatives.

The questions this research will answer:

  • What are the factors to consider when developing a marketing initiative?
  • What are the typical goals of EA and BA marketing initiatives?
  • What marketing approaches work best?
  • What types of marketing artifacts resonate well with stakeholders?
  • Who are the best targets for a marketing campaign?
  • How do you know if your marketing efforts are paying off?

If you have a good story about your marketing practices, please contact Kim Naton at

Or - if you just have a good marketing idea, leave a comment.