Call for entries: The 2011 Enterprise Architecture Awards

Nominations for the 2011 InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Awards will be closing soon -- enter now and show how your enterprise architecture initiative made a difference

Enterprise architects are change agents. While everyone else in IT from the CIO down to the system administrator works full tilt just to keep the joint running, enterprise architects take a top-down view -- analyzing and optimizing business processes and applying new technologies to make big chunks of the organization run more effectively.

Two years ago, InfoWorld got together with Forrester Research to recognize the importance of this key function with the Enterprise Architecture Awards. If you work in an organization that has benefitted from an enterprise architecture initiative, we want to hear about it -- soon. At the end of this month, we will take down the entry form and begin the judging process for the 2011 InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards. The winners will be announced in September 2011.

[ Submit your entries for the 2011 InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Awards by May 31. | Check out the winning initiatives from the 2010 InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Awards. ]

As Forrester vice president and research director Alex Cullen wrote last week in "Enterprise architects break out of the box," several of the nominations we've already received this year suggest a swing toward business architecture and away from technology transformation. This makes perfect sense. As I argued a couple of weeks ago in "How to be a modern CIO," an available, elastic IT infrastructure is becoming the new baseline -- and once that's locked in, IT must focus its energies on technology support of new business development.

Enterprise architects have always held a sort of bridge position between business and IT. But today, the two sides are mixing, creating a fertile middle ground where -- potentially -- enterprise architects hold more sway. Business management and business users are making decisions over which IT used to have exclusive control, such as selecting mobile technologies or choosing and deploying applications in the form of cloud services. In the other direction, iterative programming models have afforded developers a greater level of integration with business than ever before.

This new middle ground needs a framework, which enterprise architects are uniquely positioned to provide. To do so, they need to listen and interact with both sides rather than create ivory tower master plans. I have a friend who jokes, "Every time someone tells me they are an enterprise architect with big plans for transforming the organization, I know they won't have a job in six months." Plans are great -- as long as they are based on reality. Today's enterprise architect needs to have the social skills to listen to ideas on both sides and capture the lightning in a bottle produced by mixing business and IT cultures.

The winners of last year's Enterprise Architecture awards already reflected this shift -- but it's all about sustained, positive impact on the business -- and success never follows one trend to the exclusion of all others. If you have an enterprise architecture success story to tell us, let us know by May 31.

This article, "Call for entries: The 2011 Architecture Awards," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.