When I started as an architect, I was part of the team called “IT Architecture.” It was clear what we did and who we did it for – we standardized technology and designs so that IT would be more reliable, deliver business solutions more quickly, and cost less. We were an IT-centric function. Then the term “Enterprise Architecture” came in – and spurred debates as to “isn’t EA about the business?,” “what’s the right scope for EA?,” and “should EA report to the CEO?” We debated it, published books and blogs about it – but it didn’t change what most architects did; they did some flavor of IT Architecture.

Meanwhile, the interplay of business and technology changed . . . Technology became embedded and central to business results, and business leaders became technology advocates. The locus of technology innovation moved from the “heavy lifting” of core system implementations to the edges of the business, where business staff see opportunities and demand more autonomy to seize them. For enterprise architects, this means that regardless of what EA has been, in the future it must become a business-focused and embedded discipline. Mapping this shift is a key theme of Forrester’s Enterprise Architecture Forum 2011

Gene Leganza, who will be presenting the opening keynote “EA In The Year 2020: Strategic Nexus Or Oblivion?,” states it this way:

The importance of traditional centralized IT will atrophy as business takes technology into its own hands to speed innovation. EA leaders face choices that will determine whether they are a strategic contributor within business, become marginalized – or fall away into oblivion.”

Gene will take a crystal ball to the key business and technology forces that will shape EA’s context in ten years. He’ll paint three scenarios for EA in this future: one where EA rises, one where EA falls, and one where EA is marginalized – and relate them to the actions we architects can take today to influence which scenario we will follow.

Jeff Scott will step back from the year 2020 to today in his keynote “Business Architecture’s Golden Circle.” Why business architecture? Because that is the viewpoint where the connection of business strategy to the enabling changes – including technology changes – is made. This isn’t Business Architecture from an EA perspective but from a business perspective. The end goal isn’t developing a model of “current state->future state->road map”; it’s creating insight that leads to well-found business decisions. As Jeff states:

EAs have to think differently or they will fail. They have to move from ‘owning the model’ to ‘owning the business opportunity.’

Jeff will follow this keynote with a panel discussion featuring successful Business Architects – Rebekah Metz of Pfizer, Marsha Green of State Farm, and Tom Mertes of Thrivant Financial for Lutherans – in which panelists will share their key lessons for achieving business influence and impact.

Not just Forrester speakers will explore this shift. In our North American EA Forum, Ira Grossman, Chief Architect for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will show how FEMA’s mission drives its technology strategies. In our European forum, Michel Dufresne, Vice President, Business Process Transformation at Medco, will show how Medco 2.0 – Medco’s architecture vision – enables its agile enterprise transformation.

If you agree that EA is about the whole enterprise – not just the technology pieces – and that “EA thinking” properly directed will be critical to connect business strategy with technology innovation, then you’ll find a lot to advance your EA practice at the Forrester's Enterprise Architecture Forum 2011.