Enterprise architecture proves its worth

InfoWorld, Forrester Research, and the Penn State University Center for Enterprise Architecture present the 2014 Enterprise Architecture Awards

Man drawing business strategy    181422430
Thinkstock (Thinkstock)

Are enterprise architects leaders or followers? In one sense, it's their job to follow because a key responsibility is to understand company-wide business objectives at a deep level -- and advise management on how to achieve those goals using the right technology and processes. One the other hand, enterprise architects now have an unprecedented chance to lead the way in identifying new business opportunities, which now seem to pop up daily thanks to runaway Web and mobile technology innovation.

The stories behind this year's Enterprise Architecture Awards illustrate the benefits of an outside-in approach to concocting architectural initiatives -- and collaborating with the right business stakeholders to make new business possibilities real. To varying degrees, EA practices at Allstate Insurance, Australia Post, Dell, Dubai Customs House, Molina Healthcare, and State Farm Insurance Companies went to school on customer and/or partner needs, rather than simply optimizing existing business processes within the enterprise.

Australia Post's EA practice, for example, helped move its technology organization away from a focus on back-office systems to developing Web and mobile offerings that opened new revenue sources. The EA practice at State Farm Insurance Companies went even further, zeroing in on the details of the user experience and using lessons learned to help change company culture.

You'll find these stories and more in our 2014 Enterprise Architecture Awards feature story by Alex Cullen, enterprise architecture research director at Forrester Research. A panel of six experienced EA practitioners served as our judges: Vijay Bhuvanagiri of Mastercard, Igor Gershfang of Walgreens, Jason Graf of Yum Brands, Eric Meredith of PNC Financial, David Parrott of Thomson Reuters, and Gary Vonderhaar of Mastercard.

The EA initiatives our judges selected offer an important lesson: To stay relevant within the modern enterprise, EA teams need to go beyond running interference between IT and business -- and focus on collaborative business development that proves EA's value to the bottom line. We hope you enjoy their stories.