In the Forrester/InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Awards competition, we look for the most dramatic stories of EA’s strategic leadership and concrete business impact. The winners of the 2020 Forrester/InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Awards show the value of a close relationship with the business, a solid vision for enabling digital transformation, and effective governance practices — not to mention the need for a high-priority response to a global pandemic!
In alphabetical order, the winners this year are the EA teams of:
Congrats to all the winners — each has a compelling story of EA best practices. You can read those stories below.
CSL Behring is a biotech firm headquartered in Pennsylvania. The EA function at CSL Behring has rapidly evolved over the last 18 months. When the firm embarked on its digital transformation journey, the company’s EA team reinvented the architecture function through the following four pillars:
- A transformed EA function that emphasized the interaction with internal customer areas. A new head of EA was appointed and the lean EA team was restructured to have a dedicated architect for each of four key areas (research and development, manufacturing, commercial, and global support functions). This allowed the team to build trust with the business partners and stakeholders, document business capabilities, facilitate design thinking sessions, capture customer journey maps, and translate the desired business outcomes into technology strategies. The assets created by the EA team have accelerated decision-making for the business by at least 2x, while identifying opportunities for technology consolidation.
- Adoption of modern technology platforms and application architecture. CSL Behring EA played a key role in understanding modern technology platforms, analyzing the applicability of these technologies to business needs and defined standards and playbooks for implementation. In the last 12 months, the EA team also launched centers of excellence (CoE) in collaboration with cross-functional execution teams for robotics process automation (RPA) and the enterprise integration platform. The RPA CoE was launched in mid-2019 and has realized a projected annual savings of 20,000+ hours per year (~10 FTEs) over 12 months. The EA team also introduced the MuleSoft enterprise integration platform to CSL Behring. EA also proposed a split company architecture between CSL Behring and sister company Seqirus, leading to joint savings of the order of $1M+ to date. CSL Behring EA proposed a comprehensive multicloud and hybrid cloud computing strategy and selected appropriate cloud vendor partners, to enable rapid innovation for business needs, that also promises ~20% operational savings by transitioning out of the on-premises data center.
- An enhanced governance framework. The transformed EA team operationalized a strategic governance framework and established an enterprise technology council. The governance mechanism has reviewed and approved 25+ enterprise-wide technology strategies, which have led to an estimated rationalization of ~$50M to date.
- Talent up-skilling of solution architects and deployment teams. The EA team provided technology training and day-to-day support to cross-functional deployment teams and solution architects. CSL Behring EA organized numerous vendor workshops for cross-functional architects and launched the Vendor Technology Strategic Forum, where vendors such as Microsoft, AT&T, AWS, SAP, Cisco, and MuleSoft share their product and solution roadmaps with the Architecture Community of Practice. The EA team also helped organize a design thinking workshop at the Microsoft Technology Center, for all of EA and the operational excellence and enterprise applications teams to deliver better UX/CX throughout their solutions.
In addition, the EA team led the IT pandemic task force, and ensured remote working for all employees and business continuity for all IT areas. The team defined three work streams and identified 24 enterprise risks across the work streams, which were then mitigated by the cross-functional task force. Thanks to the cross-functional efforts, there were no major disruptions to any of CSL Behring’s IT services.
Tobias Verbist, Chief of Enterprise Architecture and Innovation for Digipolis in the City of Antwerp, said, “This is an excellent example of value added EA, by defining and executing a clear EA 2.0 strategy.” Kevin Tracy, Manager, Architecture Management Office and CoE at Ford Motor Company, added, “Nice that CSL Behring is thinking about the future by continuing to invest in their talent.”
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health
Jefferson is a healthcare and academic institution in the Philadelphia region. The organization’s clinical pillar, Jefferson Health, includes 14 hospitals and ambulatory clinics while the academic pillar, Thomas Jefferson University, comprises 10 colleges and three schools in many disciplines. Over a three-year period, mushrooming growth added 11 hospitals and a second university to the system. The multiple mergers prompted scripting a five-year plan to develop a new business model to support a 300% growth model. They operated in three phases:
- Enterprise transformation and alignment. The Jefferson EA team established a new foundational model of “One Jefferson,” which shaped every step of the journey. Central governance with distributed support enabled leadership to leverage their pool of talent and expertise. EA developed a technology framework and digital transformation roadmap to align business strategy to the appropriate technology. Phase I included Jefferson Health adopting an enterprise application portfolio, which began with choosing a new electronic health record (EHR) system as its cornerstone. The EA team was now working directly with business stakeholders in developing a detailed plan to consolidate disparate systems across the enterprise, effectively transforming the role of enterprise architects from solution providers to trusted advisors. They developed capability maps that enabled foundational models to support both the new EHR and future enterprise applications.
Jefferson EA then designed initiatives to support the execution of their plans. They implemented a system of enterprise standards to provide a consistent, flexible, and redundant infrastructure comprising storage, server/desktop virtualization, and core networking. By the end of Phase I, the new EHR was in use across 61 proprietary software applications and nearly five dozen third-party solutions and products. The EHR was also launched at inpatient locations and in the public-facing MyChart portal, which has grown to over 300,000 MyChart registrations and been instrumental in addressing the COVID-19 challenge in 2020.
- Doubling their size and reviewing their capabilities. Jefferson’s merger with multiple hospitals, ambulatory clinics, and physician practices in New Jersey created an immediate need to introduce the EHR to the new facilities. The EA team continued to work closely with the business to create a capability map and realign the business vision with capabilities and develop the second phase of the technology roadmap. The EA team once again collaborated with business units and developed an ambitious plan. They engaged 6,000 clinical and operational staff to implement a strategy that replaced five major software systems, standardizing and improving processes across the enterprise. The success of Jefferson’s implementation led the industry-leading EHR vendor Jefferson used to adopt the Jefferson deployment model as a best practice for multihospital implementations for other customers.
- Redefining the IT framework and expanding the vision. As expansion continues, Jefferson EA is working closely with their strategic technology partners to develop their next-generation framework.The business and EA team are now expanding the roadmap, leveraging their enhanced technology portfolio to share their vision and services to a larger, more diverse geographical audience. They have reviewed their technical capabilities and their virtual desktop infrastructure, and their firewalls now operate in a more efficient distributed management model that will enable them to migrate additional facilities to their EHR system.
The onset of COVID-19 presented Jefferson with their greatest challenge and tested the agility of their entire technology system. They needed to transition more than 75% of their employees, faculty, and students to a work-from-home environment. They called upon their VDI, VPN, and Office 365 capabilities to provide remote capability to 100% of their core applications. VDI has seen over a 500% increase in utilization and VPN has seen over a 400% increase in connectivity.
The Jefferson EA team has accelerated their new remote application delivery framework to reduce cost and offer a more sustainable access model. The EA team also met the pandemic challenge with a redesign of core platforms for telemedicine along with the business investment in network infrastructure and security, providing online care for 3,300 patients a day. Activations on the MyChart patient portal have increased from an average of 2,000 per month to 40,000 in May 2020.
Ford’s Kevin Tracy said: “Jefferson’s EA really shines…. Great accolade from the vendor to adopt Jefferson’s on-boarding process.”
Lexmark creates smart IoT print devices and cloud-native solutions that help customers worldwide achieve their vision of print simplicity, security, savings, and sustainability. Lexmark recognized in mid-2018 that to achieve Lexmark’s transformation aspirations, their community of architects needed to transform from technology strategists to an outcome-driven EA organization.
Lexmark EA recognized that they needed to enrich their capabilities portfolio (tools, standards, methods, and governance) to align with more of an “as-a-service” delivery model, and even more specifically, a “transformation-as-a-service” delivery model. This model required the creation of two digital frameworks: The Digital Thread and the Digital Asset.
The Digital Thread is an information framework that EA leverages to capture all data associated with the end-to-end lifecycle of Lexmark’s hardware and supplies — from design, through use, to end of life — and deliver it via a business-consumable semantic layer. This framework supports a wide range of descriptive and predictive analytics, enabling use cases that allow them to “close the loop” (e.g. design for manufacturability) between product design, manufacturing, and field operations functions. The Digital Thread enables data-as-a-service and analytics-as-a-service offerings as part of the transformation-as-a-service portfolio.
The Digital Asset is a hybrid architecture framework that EA leverages to create Lexmark’s “enterprise digital twin” — a logical model of the people, processes, and technology that comprise the business. The Digital Asset enables EA’s “process-design-as-a-service and intelligent applications-as-a-service offerings as part of the transformation-as-a-service portfolio. And it allows them to architect and design for operations, security, and privacy.
Lexmark’s Digital Thread is where they gain insights; their Digital Asset is where they architect and design a transformed future state which operationalizes and monetizes these insights.
Lexmark EA has moved from a proof of concept phase, through a pilot project transformation phase, to now deploying their transformation capabilities portfolio across the extended enterprise and as an integral component of emerging go-to-market offerings. Lexmark EA has moved with increased speed and improved quality by retaining IP in a readily reusable format, by leveraging shared business and technology taxonomies across multiple communities of use (e.g. testing, training, risk management, compliance management), and by bridging the gap between insight and action.
Lexmark has realized a 25% improvement in time-to-market for IT initiatives and a 30% reduction in defects due to change in the first full year of adoption. These savings mean that they secure a greater return on their IT investment and get to that return faster, as well as absorb a higher rate of change with minimal business disruption.
Lexmark has reduced costs through a rigorous and precise process design that has reduced variances and eliminated waste, and by identifying more impactful automation and orchestration opportunities. The company has realized a 15% to 20% reduction in the human and technical infrastructure required to manage non-value-added activities, allowing them to reinvest these resources in higher-value activities. They have also sparked a new wave of innovation by democratizing data across their value chain and by unleashing the analytical potential of their citizen data scientists.
Brett Brunk, APS’ IT Enterprise Architect, said: “Lexmark pivoted their enterprise architecture practice towards digital transformation with impressive results in quality, time to market, and reduced infrastructure. The team’s focus on information flows and digital twin concepts seems well adapted to a hardware manufacturer like Lexmark where steamlining design to build processes would be important.”
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth management, and asset management solutions to individual and corporate clients. The company established a federated EA practice in 2005, and this practice was transformed seamlessly into a unified organization in 2019 to supercharge a major global transformation across the digital enterprise.
The past three years have proven a transformational time for enterprise architecture at Sun Life. A select number of innovative projects that began as small initiatives over the last three years have produced strong sustainable business value. Sun Life EA is now recognized as a critical partner to fuel growth and align with Sun Life’s client obsession. Five major wins for enterprise architecture at Sun Life have transformed the EA team from a service provider role to being a pivotal catalyst driving business results. These five wins include:
- A major business-outcome driven architecture modernization program for a critical legacy core administration system has been progressively revitalized. A huge success, this program focused on componentization that drove significant business improvements in the new business onboarding process. The program was highly respected by the business executive team, which recognized the EA frameworks as the key building block of this success.
- API development has been recognized as a strategic business asset. A global digital enterprise business and technology strategy developed over the last eight months identified API development as one of the core foundational enablers for the future. API development is now seen by the senior executive team as a critical pillar to drive businesses agility, foster reuse, and empower an always-on, connected, and change-ready organization.
- Sun Life’s Covid-19 global pandemic response has led the industry. The strategic employment of cloud technologies over the last two years had transformed the employee experience by increasing agility. Cloud architecture and design decisions had simplified infrastructure complexities while maintaining Sun Life’s security posture and managing network capacity. These decisions made the company ready to seamlessly support a work-from-anywhere environment. Over the weekend following the government workplace restrictions being implemented, the company pivoted to having 95% of their employees working remotely. The EA team checked in directly with their employees through a pulse check survey, to confirm that they found the transition seamless and continue to do so.
- In line with Sun Life’s cloud first strategy, a critical program to move their enterprise data lake from an on-premises Hadoop model to a PaaS on AWS using a modern object store has been highly successful in driving business growth through advanced analytics and machine learning. This program included the use of several AWS PaaS services such as Glue and SageMaker.
- A recent Forrester review of Canadian Insurers’ sales websites ranked Sun Life at the top of the industry — a credible confirmation of the business value being realized from the API and cloud-focused strategies of EA underpinning these websites.
How did Sun Life achieve these five EA wins and fuel business excitement for EA? They did it by carefully balancing strategy, execution, and governance. The company’s new digital enterprise strategy is at the heart of their EA. This strategy embraces APIs, cloud, agile methodologies, devops, and automation. Their roadmap was carefully planned to ensure business value could be achieved at each step and that they were advancing on their client journey. A test-and-learn approach integrated learnings through six steps:
- Assess the current state and the key gaps seen by business leaders.
- Establish a clear mission and vision, tightly aligned to the business gaps.
- Establish a clear modernization agenda to consistently deliver on a global scale.
- Develop the best organization and operating model to achieve the goals.
- Develop a governance framework that is right-sized for the organization.
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
Tobias Verbist of Antwerp’s Digipolis said, “This is a case of ambitious execution of a clearly defined and mature EA roadmap, positively contributing to the business in every step taken. Being able to achieve business ownership over technology levers shows not only the added value of EA, but also the closed gap between business and IT, which are key advantages for any company’s digital transformation.”
Headquartered in New York City, Verizon Communications offers voice, data, and video services and solutions. On April 1, 2019, the Verizon 2.0 operating model brought in a new dawn of redoubling efforts around the core network, restructuring customer facing units, and maniacally focusing on 5G and iEN deployment. This underscored the importance of an enterprise-wide architecture team and a well-architected systems landscape.
In 2020, as the Verizon EA team gained maturity and trust across the organization, the team evolved the original framework to focus on four areas: solution architecture capabilities, EA governance and enablement, emerging technologies, and data science.
- Solution architecture capabilities to drive the transition to the North Star. Following numerous mergers and acquisitions throughout Verizon’s history, the current systems landscape found itself supporting a diverse set of customers, products, and features. However, this created multiple system stacks with limited integration. In partnership with the business transformation (BT) teams, the EA team embarked on a massive systems transformation strategy towards the North Star that has customer centricity and process simplification at its core, while keeping business continuity. With finite funding as a constraint, a pragmatic prioritization approach was applied with three lenses:
- Market, industry, and financial viability
- Customer, employee, and partner experience
- Technology and architecture alignment with best practices and North Star
- Governance and enablement. To support and enable the integration of the North Star architecture and to ensure a successful rollout, an “architecture governance and enablement” function was established. The function rolled out several solutions in support of its purpose including:
- Automated governance: At the foundation of the North Star architecture, there is a set of shared platforms and services that are designed to be leveraged by the entire company instead of duplicating the capabilities across multiple stacks, while serving multiple business units. These platforms and services have a rich set of APIs for easy integration and data retrieval. By integrating with all of the shared platforms and services in the ecosystem, these automated capabilities assess the health of a system or application through static code analysis and dynamic run-time analysis, including detecting patterns and technology anomalies.
- North Star adoption guidance and support: Verizon EA established small teams proficient with the North Star reference architecture to provide assistance within the scope of development activities in applying the North Star architecture. These teams are deployed on demand based on prioritization in partnership with the delivery teams. They also play a crucial role of providing the needed feedback to the EA organization for reference architecture improvements.
- Value realization: A value realization framework and methodology were established to measure EA’s value across the strategy-to-execution value stream through OKRs and KPIs. The value realization framework established a “value realization relationship matrix” enabling Verizon EA to align its goals and objectives to the organization’s strategic goals and objectives. A correlation was established between the value realization framework and the EA work management model for value definition, measurements, and reporting.
- Emerging technologies. To bring in the newest transformative technologies, while at the same time augmenting mainstream areas of focus like customer experience, 5G, identity and security services, and MLops, Verizon EA created a dedicated cross-organizational Emerging Architecture group that focuses on proof-of-concept and prototyping technologies that serve a two to three year time horizon. This process starts with a standardized intake process that focuses on the partnership between EA and the lines of business to iterate on a set of testable hypotheses and key performance indicators as part of short-term evaluation that lasts 6 to 12 weeks. Results and findings are then documented and shared with the broader organization. Successful evaluations are then incorporated into organizational development roadmaps and used to influence future architectural decisions and assist with future adoption.
This strategy of short-term evaluations has allowed Verizon EA to remain agile in the face of challenges such as COVID-19. Several existing evaluations were quickly pivoted to adapt to a socially distanced world, such as evaluating various forms of biometrics and AR/VR technology to assist in creating new experiences in “phygital” touchless retail, and driving toward parity between in-store and in-home customer shopping experiences. Additionally, biometric evaluations needed to be adapted due to current situations, such as customers wearing facemasks, so the organization is now considering alternative metrics such as voice fingerprinting and gait analysis. Verizon was then able to take some of these findings and use them to drive additional value in other parts of the experience by working to synthesize an experience that uses both AR/VR and machine learning to assist with 5G at home installations.
- North Star architecture for data platforms, data governance, and data-driven decisioning. Data governance and data science took center stage for the organization in 2020 in order to support data-driven decisioning that in turn yielded Net Promoter Score (NPS) improvements. Components of Verizon’s Systems of Insight (SOI) layer have brought to life a critical capability to inform the next best action during customer interactions via digital channels but also assisted channels like the call center, retail store, etc. This allowed for both customer satisfaction and service quality to be improved. Advanced SOI topic and customer DNA modeling facilitated the determination of a customer’s intent, allowing for proactive interactions via real-time decisioning — next best action, next best communication, or next best offer. SOI was also architected to utilize historical and active behavioral data towards identifying actions indicative of fraudulent behavior. The SOI coupled with rich systems of engagement contributed towards Verizon’s improvements in its NPS.
Complementing the work in SOI, and in line with Verizon’s commitment for customer privacy and security, the EA team was tasked with providing an underlying framework for data governance and data management that addressed stringent requirements for regulatory compliance and privacy protection. The team embarked on the design of an end-end data asset lifecycle management reference architecture as well as technology evaluation for a governance and model lifecycle management platform.
Tobias Verbist of Antwerp’s Digipolis said, “Very wide span in bringing value-added EA services by executing a company-wide EA roadmap. Highly structured approach focusing on important technology levers, change, and agility.” Brett Brunk of APS added, “I was impressed with the enterprise architecture governance framework that used automation to assess application health and conformance with strategy. This enables individual application teams to understand their conformance to standards.”
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