The 2018 Enterprise Architecture Awards

This year’s winning EA initiatives, brought to you by Forrester and InfoWorld, focused on making digital transformation real, usually with agile techniques

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CIBC: EA “shifts left” to strategic technology leadership

2018 enterprise architecture awards logo IDG

Faced with an array of business and technical challenges, CIBC embarked on a dramatic transformation, beginning with the largest enterprise organizational change in the history of the bank. The change included elevating the chief enterprise architect to report to the head of technology and subsume responsibility for the chief data officer in a new organization, Enterprise Architecture and Data Governance. The change created the opportunity for EA to take a leadership role.

EA created a domain practice with 23 areas of strategic architectural interest that transcended the bank’s traditional organizational boundaries. The domain architecture teams provided a bank of solutions for the enterprise’s highest focus areas.

For example, the integration domain team delivered an enterprise API framework and API marketplace based on open source—an unprecedented and contrarian move. The open source API framework architecture has accelerated innovation, enabling an agile development community. It is transforming CIBC’s monolithic legacy applications into contained and reusable microservices.

But the API strategy depended on leveraging fast decision-making, colocation, and interactive sprints of agile. But it was impossible for each architect to be in dozens of agile spaces at the same time, so EA developed an agile architecture “product” that uses agile-native tool sets like Jira and Confluence to let architects participate and track decisions across multiple agile teams and colocate virtually.

Under the domain structure, technically gifted but often communications-challenged solution architects had to evolve to business technology consultants. The EA organization created the EA-specific Technology Storytelling 101 course that used narrative and design thinking to equip architects to successfully communicate their strategies and solutions in business terms rather than technical terms.

The initial benefits of EA’s work include cost savings from consolidating IT portfolios, reduced reputational risks due to solid security architecture decisions, and the competitive advantage of an open source API platform that puts CIBC an estimated 18 months ahead of key competitors.

EA has become the de facto storyteller on all things technology to business and technology executive teams as well as the CIBC board, and it has been granted a voting seat on the committee that approves funding for all major initiatives for the bank. EA has been enabled to lead technology strategy and provide significant contribution to business strategy and banking products.

Doug Alexander, digital enterprise architect at XL Caitlin, said, “The EA-as-technology-storytelling I think is a great idea and very creative.”

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