MassMutual’s EA group addressed this gap in several ways. It created a digital Enterprise Reference Architecture (ERA) or “city plan” to provide a common view of the business and a shared model to guide the transformation and position MassMutual for ongoing change and flexibility. In addition, an integrated EA Management System (EAMS) provides decision makers with detailed technology portfolio insights. For the first time, the company gained a single source for multidimensional, multirelational intelligence to fuel data-driven simplification and optimization of technology -- allowing investment to be shifted to growth, innovation, and improving the experience of customers.
EA-guided growth and innovation teams are now building on the classic EA deliverables (such as blueprints and architecturally scalable designs) by providing prototypes, market tests, and assessment of high-risk portions of large complex systems. The results have been impressive, ranging from human-centric digital transformation of customer journeys to the creation of a business-leading algorithmic underwriting engine. Business ideas that would have taken months and years to develop are now being tested and deployed in days and weeks.
EA Awards judge Kishore Sarathy assessed MassMutual’s EA initiative thusly: “I liked the company's hands-on, value-focused approach to driving business transformation and innovation by providing timely and practical solutions aided by working models/prototypes. By embedding architects within agile, cross-functional teams, EA is able to actively lead the way instead of being a passive participant in a pure governance role.”
South State Bank: EA yields continuous improvement
The largest bank headquartered in South Carolina, South State Bank is an $8 billion financial institution focused on retail banking, commercial banking, loans, and wealth management. Like most banks, it has experienced changing customer behavior and faced increasing competition, including from fintech startups.
To address the changing landscape -- and to keep up with larger banks and their larger budgets -- an EA program was established to help South State Bank adapt. The goal of the EA group was not only to help the bank prepare for digital transformation, but to also act as a catalyst for change. The EA practice adopted the Japanese organizational philosophy Kaizen, which counsels: "Engage in activities that continuously improve all functions."
“Agile” EA would seem counterintuitive, given that EA typically sets standards and follows a ritualistic approach derived from EA frameworks. South State Bank, however, has tailored the TOGAF framework to fit its Kaizen approach. This has enabled continuous architectural improvements to drive specific business outcomes while eliminating the overhead of many EA formalities.
The architecture team serves the bank as a whole -- as a part of project teams or in engaging with leaders of business divisions. Architectures and transitions are designed quickly using EA tools to produce various collateral that can be consumed by architects and nonarchitects like. Working hand in hand with business technology experts, the bank has successfully cut typical time to market in half.
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