The 2021 Enterprise Architecture Awards

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

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Vale

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Vale is one of the world’s largest multinational mining companies, a Brazilian company leading in the production of iron ore and nickel with supporting operations in the areas of logistics, energy, and steelmaking. With Vale locations in 50 countries, the Vale EA team set out to create a framework that would unite the global organization, streamline workflows, enable innovation, and build a solid and secure technology foundation in an inherently dangerous industry.

Vale EA’s Digital Enterprise Architecture Framework provides everyone at Vale visibility into the solutions and technologies used as well as products in development with a focus on lean portfolio planning. First implemented in 2019, the framework has reaped tangible benefits and continues to provide organization-wide improvements from a technology and cultural perspective.

Before introducing the Digital Enterprise Architecture Framework, Vale’s widespread teams were managed in silos, with projects, application deployments, integrations, and hosting, network foundations and maintenance, and support services all managed separately. The adoption of a common framework and information taxonomy provides transparency into the lifecycle of business capabilities, processes, applications, and the technology behind Vale’s solutions as well as problems, opportunities, and projects.

Vale’s Digital Architecture operating model was launched in 2019, based on promoting data-driven mechanisms to manage the lifecycle of the company’s portfolio of capabilities, applications, interfaces, projects, and technology standards.

The Vale EA model is hybrid. There is a core centralized team comprised of five enterprise architects and 40 domain architects by business areas and main technology foundations. Some 40 solution and product architects are distributed along product category teams and vendors but federated to cross-domain architects to guarantee consistency and alignment.

Vale’s EA efforts realized several benefits:

Managing interdependencies. With the help of digital platforms like LeanIX, Vale was able to provide full visibility into its complex technical landscape. Vale currently operates with 700 business capabilities, 2000 processes, 3000 applications, 2000 integrations, and 2500 IT components and cloud services. Vale also relies on LeanIX to register the business impact analysis (BIA) to define the program and project portfolio. The inherent benefit of Vale’s EA effort is having a lean and focused project portfolio. Projects are now managed in one central digital platform so that everybody has visibility into what is being created. The projects are more focused on improving current capabilities, not just deploying brand new technology. With this new level of visibility, Vale can now see if projects are duplicated or if multiple projects are pointing to the same capability.

Decreasing costs. Full transparency helped Vale to avoid duplications in solutions and products. The Digital Enterprise Architecture Framework allowed them to streamline their portfolio with a 30% portfolio reduction across lines of business. 

Managing risk. Over the past three years, Vale has focused on a solid risk management framework. In an industry like mining, managing technology risk is important to preventing outages downstream that could cause serious physical harm. As an example, Vale has operations in underground mines with systems controlling the ventilation in the mines, with critical impact to mine workers. In another example, about 50% of mining trucks globally are remote controlled or autonomous; as such, technology is critical for managing security risks. For Vale, this is all integrated in LeanIX so that, if a security breach does happen, the appropriate teams will be able to easily find and solve the problem.

Innovation. The Digital Enterprise Architecture Framework is helping Vale to provide visibility into interdependencies, enabling innovation. Vale currently runs about 200 experiments per year, with global teams tasked with creating a proof of concept. Vale now has a network of 500-plus “startups” globally focused on technologies like IoT, augmented reality (AR), and drones.

The company-wide adoption of Vale EA’s Digital Enterprise Architecture Framework is still ramping up, but there are a few key areas of the business that are realizing its benefits:

Energy management program. Vale has started an energy program to rationalize the energy consumption at Vale. This program uses the framework to gain full visibility into business capabilities and process solutions to help reduce the consumption of energy.

Another objective is to reduce Vale’s global carbon footprint. Vale is putting all process and capability indicators into LeanIX to see where they have opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This helps Vale qualify technology vendors downstream. If one cloud provider can demonstrate that its cloud is really based on using carbon footprint reduction approaches, Vale will make the decision to go with that vendor over others.

Asset maintenance management. Asset maintenance encompasses all of the capabilities, processes, and solutions Vale requires to maintain all of its assets globally. The Digital Enterprise Architecture Framework has helped to provide a better user experience, more efficient inspections, and better use of SAP. Maintenance in a mining company is the main cost component. Utilizing the EA framework has had significant impacts on the bottom line.

The EA team led by Chris Freas of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health commented: “The Vale EA team provides the roadmap necessary to develop data and process transparency, extensive system integration, and centralization of project resources. The submission establishes a defined, supportable framework to support lifecycle management, automation, and workspace collaboration. The adoption of an innovation startup model coupled with business buy-in and adoption of LeanIX has improved and strengthened their EA vision and strategy. Vale’s experience may inspire the Jefferson EA team to consider adopting LeanIX.”

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