One of the winners of this year’s Forrester/Infoworld Enterprise Architecture Awards segmented their EA practice into two disciplines: Innovation Architecture and Effectiveness Architecture. These two words describe the range of winners selected by our judges.

Before I announce the winners, let me tell you about why these two words are significant. The Forrester/Infoworld EA Awards have always sought to uncover programs that impact their business through the insight and value that only EA can provide. But many EA programs struggle with this – and the reason for this struggle lies more in themselves than in their context. Bottom line: They focus on "doing architecture" or on "being smart technical experts." Many talk about being more business-focused but aren’t willing to change their thinking or how they engage with their business.

The five winners of this year’s awards have changed their approach to EA and delivering business impact, and the results show.

  • British Gas. Technology is the lifeblood of British Gas. New strategic imperatives have emerged to improve customer service across self-service, contact center, and field channels, enabling greater innovation. After a successful application rationalization program that reduced their application portfolio from 350 to fewer than 100, they needed to find ways to increase flexibility and reduce costs. To address this, British Gas’ EA program shepherded a multichannel service platform and a cloud program to increase flexibility for operational change at reduced costs. They created a new API Management tier in order to enable secure access to 16 million customer records. This innovation allows British Gas to deliver updated customer information to 8,000 field staff every day, which allows these field staff to discuss with customers their product experience. The architecture used for this project is becoming the standard for the organization’s future development. Because of the EA team’s impact and business focus, their stakeholders do not see them as different from any other individual in a project – having the customers' and company's interests at heart, capable of pragmatism and delivery intent.

Doug Safford, chief architect from 2014 award winner Allstate, said “I think EA stepped up here and led and that's what I believe will move the EA practice forward. They adapted and moved the ball forward for the company in a tangible way.”

  • Capital One. Despite being a top-10 bank by deposits, Capital One approaches its business like a technology startup. To be an effective partner with their business and technology teams, EA dramatically changed how they operate – with a new mission, operating model, focus areas, and talent expectations. EA’s mission of “accelerating delivery while ensuring systems are highly resilient and extremely secure” is enabled through:

· A focus on technology disruptors, such as microservices, real-time analytics from big data, and a cloud-first principle for application development. EA worked closely on critical projects to leverage these disruptors.

· Driving awareness and adoption of modern architectures and advanced engineering practices and culture. EA participated in hackathons, hosted workshops on design-thinking practices, and delivered reference architectures paired with working software.

·A fit-for-purpose agile operating model fully aligned with enterprise execution. They utilize agile techniques, such as their own release trains, enabling faster delivery of architecture guidance.

·An adaptive, well-managed, federated practice attuned to the nuances of each line of business.   

· Transforming their talent through elevation of technical competencies and a focus on continuous learning

Tien-Ti Mak, CTO of EA Award winner Australia Post, said “Wow – what an excellent submission. EA is driving modern techniques and thinking from cloud adoption to agile and more.

  • Idaho National Lab. Idaho National Lab INL is the predominant energy laboratory for the Department of Energy (DOE), with 4,000 employees including scientists, researchers and support staff. Due to a fragmented approach to technology procurement and investment, INL was hindered in its ability to communicate and collaborate electronically and was faced with an unacceptable level of cyber security risk that, if not addressed, could have resulted in contractual repercussions. Because a large portion of the IT budget was being used to maintain legacy assets, investment in technology innovations was nearly impossible. In response to these challenges and constrains, the EA program adopted a bi-modal approach, addressing the organization’s needs for sustainability and security while creating and supporting an environment for technology innovation and disciplined investment decisions. They collapsed their architecture functions – business, technology, application, and information – into two EA sets of practices: effectiveness architecture and innovation architecture:

· Under the umbrella of effectiveness architecture, they focus on cost effective operations that manages the risks associated with reliability, sustainability, and security. This is accomplished through processes that enable the organization to conduct orchestrated architectural reviews that consider life-cycle planning, strategic alignment, and identification of risks and mitigation.

· Innovation architecture adds the flexibility for the organization to explore solutions that can increase capacity, improve capabilities, and generate greater revenue. The organization follows processes that enable leadership to prioritize IT investments in innovation as well as develop them using dedicated subject matter experts, where innovation architecture is carried out in an environment that is largely free of the traditional hardware, software, and access control constraints.

Said Doug Safford: “Good approach to taking an industry buzzword and making it more real, seeing benefits that should give them the room to continue forward.

  • National Grid. National Grid is an international electricity and gas company based in the UK and northeastern US. Energy firms are faced with disruption as they seek to respond to the need for conservation and clean energy. National Grid had a legacy technology estate that was unable to provide business with the agility, insight, and flexibility they need. This added constraints in driving a transformative agenda with the ever increasing complexity. To address these forces and constraints, National Grid EA reorganized itself around the business, being responsive and with driving innovation with architecture-led transformation agenda. They focused on simplifying core business services and associated KPIs by leveraging a core set of technology in the areas of mobility, service driven architecture, modern data platforms, and hybrid cloud – bringing the delivery of these business services into a modern environment that is process based, insight-rich, and measurable to become more customer-centric, with business services extended to the field force and network operations.

Kyla Hunziker, Lead Business Architect from award winner State Farm, had this to say about their submission: “I applaud the business-first approach they are taking to address legacy challenges. Through simplification and innovation, they are enabling business transformation.” 

  • Tata Communications Ltd. Tata Communications Limited is a global telecommunications company owned by the Indian business conglomerate Tata Group. TCL's CEO unveiled their Strategy 2.0 that aims at multifold growth in revenue over the next few years – laying more emphasis on bundling and next generation services. This needed a disruptive way of thinking and some hard decisions in order to achieve the targets that the CEO set. The EA team at Tata Communications rose to the challenge of defining and guiding the road map to a new architecture – Architecture 2.0. Architecture 2.0 envisages the target IT application architecture and the corresponding road maps to realize that target architecture. Architecture 2.0 also provides the governance mechanism to ensure that future projects bring the IT landscape ever closer to the target architecture. This approach is resulting in better, faster, and more accurate strategic design decisions as well as cost savings due to the ensuing systems rationalization. Visible business results include: 

· 32% of systems planned for shutdown have already been shut down.

· 29% improvement in sales and support team turnaround time.

· 32% improvement in feasibility to customer order acceptance. 

· 26% improvement in turnaround time for activation.

Thomas Philbin, Sr. Enterprise Architect of EA Award winner Dell, stated, “This company set a clear architecture goal, then put in clear governance, road maps, and progress measures to achieve it.

I would like to thank all the organizations that submitted entries for this year’s awards. I would also like to thank our judges, who put in hours reviewing these submissions:

Doug Safford,, Chief Architect, Allstate Insurance Company

Tien-ti Mak, Chief Technology Officer, Australia Post

Tom Philbin, Sr. Enterprise Architect, Dell

Kyla Hunziker, Lead Business Architect, State Farm