Way back in the 1980s, when IBM's John Zachman laid down the basic principles of enterprise architecture, the primary goal was to bring order to the growing sprawl of technology in business. Today, the most successful enterprise architecture efforts are those that help the business organize itself.
For four years, InfoWorld and Forrester Research -- joined by the Penn State University Center for Enterprise Architecture in 2012 -- have collaborated to produce the Enterprise Architecture Awards, honoring companies whose practice of enterprise architecture has had significant business impact. This year, more than ever, our five winners have not merely "aligned" IT with business, they've enabled the business itself to make better strategic decisions:
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Cisco was one of several companies to establish a healthy business architecture practice. As Russ Conway, Cisco's director of architecture, put it: "Architecture is not a reaction to our projects. The practice is positioned as a planning function. It's what defines the projects."
MasterCard established an EA practice to provide guidance to the business as well as to evolve technology strategy. Business architecture and the company's technology portfolio are intertwined. Collaboration has had a major effect in prioritizing business initiatives.
The National Bank of Abu Dhabi found a way to develop a shared view of business challenges across the 13 countries in which it operated, thanks to its EA practice. Ultimately, the EA team was moved out of IT and into the office of the CEO and renamed the Transformation Architecture Office.
Verizon called on its EA practice to transform order-to-billing processes, with improvements ranging from more efficient call center operations to enhanced business intelligence. Going forward, Verizon says the EA practice will be key to improving the customer experience and driving business growth.
Yum! Brands -- which includes KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell -- called on its EA practice to help the company focus on Web and mobile customers, using mobile ordering, social media, digital coupons, and more. Analysis of how Yum! Brands compared with competitors in reaching digital customers was a crucial part of the project.
Clearly, the days when business stakeholders simply threw a hulking requirements document over the transom and waited months or years for IT to complete a project are long gone. Today, at its best, EA plays a vital role in helping the business decide how its processes should evolve rather than simply automating those processes. We're delighted to congratulate this year's five winners and recognize the stellar examples of leadership they've provided.
This article, "Enterprise architecture shows its business value," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.