I have never put ‘Wow’ into the title of a blog before – but for this one it’s fully justified. 

This is the fifth year InfoWorld, Penn State University Center for EA, and Forrester have run the annual Enterprise Architecture Awards. When I compare the winners of five years ago – all excellent EA programs, with this year’s winners and the runner-ups, all I can say is ‘Wow – EA is really advancing’. 

I am pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Enterprise Architecture Awards.  This year, we have six winning programs – all of which demonstrate leading edge thinking on how they engage with their business, how they provide value, and how they help their business achieve its strategic goals. Here are the winners, selected by a panel of leading EA practitioners drawn previous years’ winners and other excellent programs.  (For a more extensive write-up, see the InfoWorld report)

Allstate Insurance

Driving Innovation with Enterprise Architecture

The best way to succeed in Property and Casualty insurance in the US market is to create innovative products and services for unique customer segments, each with a customized customer value proposition. This is the need that Doug Safford, Vice President and Chief Architect pivoted his EA program towards. 

Allstate expanded the standard EA practice to include Innovation Execution as a program.  Innovation Execution builds on classic EA deliverables such as roadmaps and scalable designs by providing prototypes, market tests for new ideas, and enablement of the high risk portions of large complex systems.  By engaging with both the business leaders with ideas, and IT groups supporting them, this program accelerates innovation goals by: 

  • Building something ‘more real, more quickly,’  – bringing business ideas through our systems development life-cycle more quickly;
  • Uncovering potential roadblocks very early thereby minimizing project risks;
  • Providing the IT development teams with working and proven prototypes to reference; and
  • Ensuring migrations to production are streamlined without sacrificing quality and engineering rigor.

The result of this new EA mission:  Stakeholders see a new partner in Enterprise Architecture based on the Innovation Execution practice, one that not only supports their IT development teams, but also can assist in making their strategic goals and plans a reality in significantly less time. 

Igor Gershfang, Sr Director Emerging Technology Solutions at Walgreens noted this: “EA is elevated to help drive innovation agenda and is given resources, leadership and operational responsibilities to incubate. This is great.”

Australia Post

Our Customers and our Digital Future

Since 2011, digital disruption has accelerated downturns in Australia Post’s  traditional letters and retail business, while creating growth opportunities in areas such as parcels, eCommerce and government services.  This has required them to undergo a fundamental transformation and create products/services that are compelling for customers in the digital age – becoming more customer-centric, digitizing products and services and enabling digital channels as customers switch from physical to digital.

The EA practice, led by Tien Ti Mak, Chief Technology Officer, in turn, has re-organized itself with the following strategic objectives:

  • Driving customer-centric thinking across the technology organization and the enterprise as a whole.  They champion customer-centric  tools and methods, integrate customer experience management principles with business and technology architecture, and rolled out training on these techniques to hundreds of people in Australia Post.
  • Enabling business growth by guiding projects to create solutions that better address what their customers need / want.  They engaged directly with Australia Post’s  customers  to understand their needs, created architecture blueprints for key domains (e.g. customer, product) with strong traceability to both business and customer outcomes and then drove technology strategy and solutions accordingly. These blueprints have driven their largest ever capital investments (circa $2B).

Today, EA’s value, as evidenced by feedback from senior business executives, is well recognized for its contributions to enable business growth and customer experience uplifts, as well as its impact on technology cost, speed and sustainability.

Gary VonderHaar & Vijay Bhuvanagiri  from 2013 winner MasterCard commented: “Great end to end architecture process, ties customer experience, business architecture and technical architecture, trained people outside of EA, and really stretches the boundaries of EA”


Dell's Strategic Imperative: Shifting from Hardware to Solutions

Dell’s overarching business driver is shifting from being a transaction-based PC vendor to an end-to-end solution provider while meeting aggressive growth and market share target objectives.  Under the new model, Dell may combine software with servers, cloud services, and professional services for installation. Consequently, almost every aspect of their key IT systems needed to change to support the new business strategy.

Dell created an executive steering team, including senior-most business unit and functional leaders called the Business Architecture Team (BAT).   The BAT reports directly to members of the founder’s leadership team, and is responsible for understanding the strategy, transformation planning and strategic realization of the entire Dell business. EA adopted a phased approach to strategic planning and partners closely with the BAT to recommend architecture strategy and solve challenges once for the entire company, giving them a strong voice in strategic decisions and prioritization.

The Dell EA program has brought architectural clarity that has earned the respect and confidence of other internal stakeholders in the planning process. By following-through to outcome realization, EA provides a clear implementation plan to sequentially close all of the gaps associated with each enabler. EA's planning and architecture knowledge, along with executive support (via the BAT), uniquely positions EA to lead strategic outcome realization.

Jason Graf said this about Dell’s program: “I really like their Customer centric focus, engagement with most senior leaders in the organization, and measureable direct benefit to customers.”

Dubai Customs

Business Capability Management

Dubai Customs has set a goal to transform from a traditional customs house into a world class customs organization in a shortest possible period of time. Attaining such aggressive goal necessitates having a planning methodology that is comprehensive and highly effective to help the organization increase delivery capability and reveal potential profitable business opportunities.

Hussam Mohammed, director of Dubai Customs House’s EA program, implemented an approach called Business Capability Management.  This approach to enterprise strategy and architecture focuses on four aspects: People, Process, Technology and Information. These aspects aid the adoption of a more flexible business by planning capability development in advance with a key emphasis on stakeholders being able to make better informed decisions. The practice assists the organization in determining its business and architectural strategy including the creation of a roadmap for initiatives in business transformation and practice modernization and development in accordance with the strategic goals and objectives. Hussam Mohammed’s team enabled stakeholders to access and view all organizational information through an innovative solution called Enterprise Connected View (ECV) which houses organization information ranging from strategic to technical information. The ECV has become a single-source of truth for all organization information

Business Capability Management, and the EA program, are helping Dubai Customs establish its place as the leading Customs administration in the region and a leader across the globe.

David Parrott, Chief Architecture Officer at Thomson Reuters and pervious years judge, commented: “Great metrics, really brings the impact of their program alive!”

Molina Healthcare

Re-chartering EA for business outcomes

Molina Healthcare had an established EA practice, but saw the need to evolve the EA unit from a version 1.0 technology-centric, top down, policing type of operation to one focused on business outcomes with the agility to move forward in lockstep with partners to ensure strategic goals are realized. Re-chartering EA for business outcomes involved sweeping changes. A key requirement was the need to support an overarching governance initiative, which stresses the importance of technology reuse, while providing greater assurance that Molina Healthcare was making the best decisions based on sound business information drawn from across the enterprise.

Molina’s EA team, headed by Cary Brown, Director of EA, responded with a strategy that simplified its own service offering, narrowed its focus, and fundamentally redefined how it needed to fit within the organization. As part of its re-chartering efforts, EA also reorganized services around two primary groupings of Enterprise Architecture offerings: strategic services (focused on future state planning, roadmapping, governance and standard setting) and tactical services (focused on new technology evaluation, solution design and facilitation).

Collectively these re-chartering efforts have resulted in a streamlined, partner approach.  By partnering with stakeholders in each business area EA is now ensuring:

  • Decisions made in one initiative benefit for the first time from an enterprise-wide perspective;
  • The company no longer invests in “one-off” parochial technology solutions that favor a particular business unit or project;
  • All initiatives, including ad-hoc IT efforts, have clearly stated objectives and end with a positive outcome or transparent decision be it a new capability or some new business function that improves quality or removal of barriers to healthcare services.

Of this submission, Eric Meredith, VP Architecture Governance at PNC Financial, said: “What was most intriguing was that they began by applying EA principles to the EA practice, i.e. applied EA principles to themselves to identify challenges in their own EA strategy. Brilliant and Gutsy. “ 

State Farm Insurance Companies

Delivering Remarkable Customer Experience with Enterprise Architecture

State Farm has a business strategy driving growth by being more customer-centric in its offerings and service.  This strategy is fueled by Digital Technology including Mobile and Social, customer desires to interact with State Farm at their convenience using a method of their choice, and the goal to provide remarkable customer service as a way to differentiate from competitors.

State Farm’s Enterprise Architecture program helps craft, clarify, plan, architect and execute the business strategy and deliver practical business outcomes aligned with business strategy. EA is jointly led by business and IT executives and operates in a hub and spoke model to effectively engage with stakeholders. EA's hub team takes primary responsibility of direction setting activities like strategic architecture, blueprints, standards and tooling. EA spoke teams are directly embedded in business capability areas comprised of business and IT teams.

They developed a new discipline they call Experience Architecture – a business discipline focused on incorporating outside perspectives and leveraging approaches such as journey mapping, experience visualizations, customer segmentation/personas, focusing on mobile first considerations, and customer scenarios/jobs.  Experience Architecture builds on strong business and IT architecture disciplines.   The result is the customer experience perspectives are brought into strategic business efforts for all current, target and transitional states.

Igor Gershfang, Sr Director Emerging Technology Solutions at Walgreens said of State Farm’s program: “While "customer" related strategies and corresponding enablement naturally falls into the responsibilities of Enterprise Architecture – expanding scope of EA to include CEX is new and stands out.”