September 20, 2010, 11:54 AM — In large enterprises, the barrier to increased efficiency and business agility is almost never technological: It's organizational. Business management has a set of goals; IT does its best to meet those objectives effectively and efficiently. But dysfunctional governance, legacy rules and processes, and miscommunication between business and IT management all too often prevent enterprises from moving forward cohesively to address the latest challenges and opportunities.
Enterprise architecture (EA) provides common ground for business and IT to work together. Until an organization has a top-down view of itself, with the means to assess the business value of IT activities and investments across the board, strategic plans are made in a vacuum. EA provides a mechanism for that self-assessment. But it also provides effective frameworks to turn ideas into full-blown initiatives with proper controls, best practices, and allocation of resources. Only with such frameworks in place can rational technology decisions be made.
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InfoWorld and Forrester Research share a similar view about the value of EA to organizations -- and also believe this value is seldom given its due. To rectify that, we worked together to develop the Enterprise Architecture Awards, with the intent of recognizing companies whose practice of EA has delivered substantial business benefit to their organizations.
We began the process of collecting nominations for the Enterprise Architecture Awards in the spring of 2010. Choosing five winners from a wide array of entrants, many with compelling tales of transformation, wasn't easy. In the end, we chose these five winners: Aetna, Barclay's Bank, Discover Financial Services, Skandia UK & International, and Wells Fargo Bank. We believe all five exemplify the discipline and collaborative spirit needed for true organizational change.
The practice of EA is sometimes caricatured as an ivory-tower endeavor with a distant connection to the way business and IT operate on the ground. The principles and frameworks of EA may appear to be abstract -- but only when they lack the context of successful initiatives deployed by companies like these. We hope you find the stories of these five enterprises compelling and instructive for your own EA endeavors.