Calling all enterprise architects

Nominations are now open for the 2011 InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Award, honoring companies whose enterprise architecture initiatives made a difference

I just got back from Forrester Research's Enterprise Architecture Forum, which -- among other highlights -- featured presentations by winners of InfoWorld's 2010 Enterprise Architecture Awards. Last year, for the first time, Forrester Research and InfoWorld put this awards program together to recognize outstanding work in the field, and it was great to see the winners get the credit they deserved.

Today, we're pleased to open the Enterprise Architecture Awards for nominations once again.

[ Check out the winning initiatives from the 2010 InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Awards. | See Eric Knorr's recent post on Why SOA still matters. ]

The Enterprise Architecture Awards are important to InfoWorld because they underscore the importance of IT to business and illustrate what businesses can achieve when technology strategies and business strategies are in sync and IT leadership and business leadership are successfully combined. In stark contrast to the view of IT as operations overhead, they show IT at its best: as a strategic enabler of business efficiency, transformation, and growth.

Our mission at InfoWorld has always been twofold: to seek out and recognize technology innovation, culminating with the Technology of the Year Awards, our annual showcase of enterprise product reviews from the InfoWorld Test Center; and to celebrate excellence in IT leadership, which takes its most direct form in the InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards (now the InfoWorld Technology Leadership Awards). Sure, we like to have fun with tech, too (see last week's instant classic on Unix geeks), but our main charter is to evaluate the practical implications of emerging technology from the real-word perspective of contributors who work in IT -- and lay the groundwork for business success.

Enterprise architecture provides the highest-level framework for that evaluation. No one should invest in new technology without connecting it to business value. The challenge for enterprise architects is the same as it ever was: to integrate business vision with a top-down view of technology capabilities and to create policies and models that shorten response times to real-world opportunities. With Forrester Research, we created the Enterprise Architecture Awards to recognize companies that have successfully executed on their architectural vision.

We realize that the vast majority of architectural initiatives are not "projects" with a neat beginning and end. After all, enterprise architecture must provide a framework that both enables and adapts to changes in business and technology over time. Nonetheless, we're asking entrants to describe the tangible business benefits of their enterprise architecture practice, as well as provide us with a clear understanding of how that practice functions within the larger organization. We'd also like to know future plans and how they build on current accomplishments.

At InfoWorld, we believe we're on the cusp of another transformative phase in IT, in which the rapid adoption of cloud, mobile, and Big Data technologies may usher in more change in the next five years than we've seen in the last twenty-five. The way we see it, you can't navigate that kind of shifting landscape effectively without the framework of enterprise architecture.

If you have a successful enterprise architecture initiative you'd like to see get the recognition it deserves, we encourage you to enter the 2011 InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Awards. The deadline for nominations is May 31, 2011. Award winners will be announced in September 2011.

This article, "Calling all enterprise architects," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.