Enterprise Architecture Awards

The 2014 Enterprise Architecture Awards

At a time when Web and mobile technology development have become top priorities, effective enterprise architecture matters more than ever. Here are this year's six winning initiatives

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State Farm Insurance Companies: Improving customer experience

State Farm is a leader in insurance and an emerging player in banking and financial services in the United States. The company's business strategy is straightforward: To be more customer-centric and drive growth by providing a remarkable customer experience.

Customer needs and preferences have evolved, in many cases fueled by mobile technology and social media. Customers want to interact with State Farm at their convenience, using the method of their choice; providing remarkable customer service was seen as a key way to differentiate the business. In addition, State Farm needed to manage its digital business more effectively, minimizing variation and optimizing costs.

EA's role was to help craft, clarify, plan, architect, and execute on this business strategy and help deliver practical business outcomes. EA is jointly led by business and IT executives and operates in a hub-and-spoke model to engage with stakeholders more effectively. The EA hub team takes primary responsibility for direction-setting activities, such as strategic architecture, blueprints, standards, and tooling. EA spoke teams are directly embedded in business capability areas that blend business and IT personnel.

The business provides leadership for business architecture, along with the relatively new discipline of experience architecture. IT leads application, data/information, and technology architecture practices. EA is charged with improving business and IT clarity, providing input into strategic planning and direction, and offering insight into execution issues.

EA adds value to the enterprise by focusing on strategic planning, with a top-down vision that includes "customer journeys" -- the key interactions customers have with State Farm, such as shopping and filing claims. Techniques to improve the customer experience include journey mapping, experience visualizations, customer segmentation/personas, focusing on "mobile first," and customer scenarios/jobs.

By focusing on the customer-driven experience, State Farm's EA practice has:

  • Helped the organization execute on business strategies that result in tangible business outcomes
  • Integrated a systematic and holistic approach for addressing customer needs and preferences
  • Effectively aligned strategic vision, direction, and execution by fully integrating with strategic business capability planning across channels and products
  • Integrated architectural blueprints for vision and transitional architectural planning across all customer journeys
  • Become an important partner in changing the organization's culture to be more customer-centric

Going forward, State Farm will continue to leverage, refine, and innovate within its EA practice to engage with business and IT partners as well as customers. The practice will drive strategic excellence by furthering practical business outcomes focusing on the customer first.

In addition, the EA practice plans to sustain operational excellence by strengthening collaboration, integration, and partnerships among business and IT architecture disciplines. With such user experience approaches as "lean UX," increased business agility and decreased time to market should follow. Also, a common enterprise reference and repository of architecture content will ensure a holistic, integrated set of blueprints is available for current-state analysis, aspirational-state views and decisions, and the creation of transitional state views.

At State Farm, EA is leading the way with an unwavering focus on customer-centric solutions, while adhering to fundamental architectural principles. Add to that a commitment to collecting and acting on feedback from internal stakeholders, and the EA practice should continue to accelerate the delivery of successful solutions.

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