The 2021 Enterprise Architecture Awards

The 2021 Forrester and InfoWorld EA Awards contest winners focus on agility and enabling innovation.

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Bank of America

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Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses, and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management, and other financial and risk management products and services.

Enterprise Architecture is part of ETASC, Enterprise Technology Architecture and Shared Capabilities—established in 2017. ETASC is a centralized organization. Approximately 20 architects are employed by role centrally; there are hundreds of solution architects throughout the bank’s technology organization. The team’s mission is to make technologists’ jobs easier so they can innovate more. This team’s contributions helped Bank of America meet unforeseen demands and provide unprecedented client support amid the coronavirus pandemic in four significant ways:

Lean agile goes from good to great. ETASC found that most of the bank’s software teams applied agile methodology in unique, informal ways. ETASC was on a mission to get tens of thousands of technologists in eight lines of business to collaborate more closely, and moved quickly to upgrade to a more robust, scalable agile methodology. Program champions expanded training, educating 136,000-plus participants and launching an agile maturity assessment program. Of the 600 teams and 2500 individuals who completed the assessment questionnaires in the first cycle, 40% scored a “1” – the lowest end of the five-point maturity scale. Only two percent scored a “5.”

To drive improvement, the team launched Agile Games, which assigned a series of tasks tied to improvement areas. By late 2020, assessment participation grew to 2,500 teams and 30,000 individuals – and 82% of them scored a “3” out of “5” or higher. Only 1% of teams scored a “1.”

Then coronavirus required 85% of the bank’s workforce to work remotely. The team quickly developed guidance and tools on remote collaboration. Armed with these, software teams innovated more and patent applications soared. The bank’s inventors filed 722 patent applications with the US Patent Office in 2020, the highest number in the bank’s history. A record 444 patents were granted to Bank of America in 2020, during a period when U.S. patents granted overall were down 1%.

RPA and BPM experts help to provide relief in the crisis. To offset the COVID-19 economic impact, the US government enacted the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and relied heavily on major banks for implementation. The massive and sudden new workload seemed insurmountable. But the ETASC team had in prior years established a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM). These proved instrumental to the bank’s ability to meet the PPP challenges, rapidly standing up a platform to automate PPP loan applications. The team’s domain expertise in applying RPA technology and 24/7 support for operations staff made this herculean task feasible.

Tech tools spur digital innovation, strengthen security and reliability. To ensure sustainability of their momentum, the ETASC team delivered numerous software development accelerators, including design patterns, archetypes, and code libraries that apply to commonly occurring software design and implementation challenges. A well-organized portal makes it easy to find all the resources, with tools, instructions, videos, reference code, and even a dedicated infrastructure that developers can use to build solutions. Portal traffic soon topped a million hits per month.

To support the modular aspect of the bank’s solution delivery, the ETASC team made it easier for technologists to reuse their peers’ proven work, enabling developers to find all APIs that have been successfully deployed. In just six months, thousands of bank engineers capitalized on the API catalog. ETASC enabled developers to embrace cloud-native patterns and container platform efforts, and as a result, the bank’s software-defined infrastructure strategy and migration to the cloud have reduced infrastructure spend by $2.1 billion.  

Experimental labs and sandboxes drive innovation. ETASC provides software teams with environments where they can experiment and learn—with the ability to create (and tear down) on demand. Usage of ETASC’s experimental sandbox environments has increased tenfold in the last year. ETASC’s software development accelerators and sandbox labs led to innovations that resulted in a record quarter in Q1 2021 for total deposits and digital users. In addition, brand loyalty and customer satisfaction reached new highs. Year to date, the bank has received an influx of industry honors as a leading innovator, including being named No. 1 among national banks in online and mobile banking in the JD Power 2021 US Online Banking and Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Studies, as well as Global Finance naming BofA Outstanding Financial Innovator 2021, and several other industry awards recognizing innovation in banking.

2020 EA Award winner and final judge panel member Andy Kopp of Lexmark had this to say about BofA’s accomplishments: “A fascinating example of how EA can apply common principles and practices to enable and distribute work at scale. Enterprise-level agile can only hope to achieve consistent results with this type of framework. Well done.”

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