Celebrating the role of enterprise architecture in business

In this year's InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards, five companies saw enterprise architecture as the best response to unprecedented change

At InfoWorld, we tend to focus on emerging technologies and the practical implications of applying them to business and technical problems. But as many of us have learned the hard way, launching new technology initiatives in isolation, no matter how promising they may seem, is a recipe for disaster. You have to have a master plan.

In larger organizations, one of the key functions of enterprise architecture is to help create the context for that plan. But its first principle must be a business architecture that prioritizes objectives yet is built from the ground up to respond to changing needs.

[ Get all the details of the 2012 InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award winners. | See more of this year's best of the best, including tech leaders who won the Technology Leadership Awards, and the open source software winners of the InfoWorld Bossie Awards. ]

Enterprise architects are also responsible for crafting a framework for collaboration among all parties involved, which must be established before solutions can even begin to be developed and deployed.

At InfoWorld and Forrester Research, we understand the important role enterprise architects play in the success of their organizations -- which is why, in 2009, we decided to establish the Enterprise Architecture Awards.

For this year's awards, we've strengthened our program by partnering with Penn State University Center for Enterprise Architecture, one of the leading sources of research and expertise in the field.

Brian Cameron, executive director of the Center for Enterprise Architecture, offers insight on the awards and his perspective on global enterprise architecture trends in a sharp three-minute video that's worth a view. Among other things, Cameron calls out the vital role enterprise architecture can play not only in creating strategic plans, but also in bridging the gap between those plans and execution.

This year's five winners, although their initiatives varied widely, won the endorsements of our judges thanks to highly effective enterprise architecture programs:

National Grid. Based in London, this multinational electricity and gas utility established an enterprise capability mode that helped integrate the management of new smart grid functionality -- and raised the status of the IT department to that of equal partner in developing new solutions.

Scottish Windows Investment Partnership. One of the largest asset management companies in Europe transformed its enterprise architecture practice in 10 months by deploying a common platform made up of five portfolios: business architecture, applications, goals and strategy, technology, and information.

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance. To keep pace with the pace of change, the IT department of this top-tier insurance firm reinvented itself, applying business management principles to its internal operations while expanding the scope of enterprise architecture to include business architecture and SOA.

Sberbank. The largest bank in Russia, Sberbank began its enterprise architecture practice in 2009 with a focus on application and BPM platform architecture as well as on an overarching risk management system. Guided by the architectural principles it established, the bank also has plans to launch ambitious social networking and big data initiatives.

Telstra Global. With improving the customer experience foremost in mind, this leading provider of managed networked solutions transformed business processes by introducing SOA and a common information model into the company's overall enterprise architecture.

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