I recently had a conversation with a new EA practice leaders in the investment management business unit of a large multi-line insurance company.  They wanted to hear my perspectives on what a world-class EA program should look like.  They knew of all the traditional EA building blocks: standards and roadmaps, architecture domains, methodologies like TOGAF.  They had a long list of things to do, but were uncertain about which to tackle first, and had a nagging feeling that these had little to do with world-class EA programs.  We touched on EA maturity models, but quickly concluded that there isn’t an obvious and compelling business value proposition to simply ‘being mature’. 

The conversation shifted to outcomes – what are the outcomes of a world-class EA program?  IT cost reduction could be an outcome, and has been the raison d’etre of EA for years.  IT solution design quality could be an outcome, and has been the justification for architects for longer than EA has been around.  But these are all IT-centric outcomes.

We all know the world is changing.  Digital capabilities are radically impacting our customers, the competitive landscape, the regulatory context, and the operating models of businesses.  Kyle McNabb summarizes this very well in his blog post.  The mantra today is business agility in the face of all these radical changes.  Because of this, being IT-centric is no longer the hallmark of a world class EA program. 

Architecting Tomorrow’s Business Outcomes is the overarching theme of Forrester’s Business Technology Forum (May 6-7, Washington DC, and June 10-11, London).  A business outcome focus, whether it is customer-centricity, embedding intelligence in products and services, or transforming its business model, is the hallmark of world class EA programs, and EA’s value is in how it guides for todays and tomorrow’s business outcomes.  In this Forrester forum, you'll learn more on three of the foundations of business-focused EA:

  • Making EA central to business realizing the outcomes it seeks.  We’ll explore that across a variety of facets – from achieving the real-time business and mobile engagement, to driving customer experience strategies using business architecture, to using our business capability assessment toolkit to guide your business change programs.
  • Understanding the future technology landscape.  We’ll look at the intersection of BI and Big Data, describe the hyper-flexible data management platform, scan the emerging technology landscape, and give you a cross-cutting mobile engagement reference architecture.
  • Excelling at your practice of EA.  We help you design the governance to manage your information lifecycle, tell you how to use your EA operating model to define your program’s skills and career paths, and teach you how to ‘sell’ your EA vision using story-telling techniques. 

How did my conversation end?  The EA heads at this company still have a long list of things they need to do – but the list has shifted.  More importantly, they now see a connection from this list to the value their business needs them to provide.  And what are your action items?  First, shift from an IT to a business focus – and educate your IT and business sponsors as to why they want you to do this.  Second, to learn how to excell at this shift by joining us at our forum.