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The 2016 Enterprise Architecture Awards

Alex Cullen | Sept. 20, 2016
This years' winning EA initiatives, brought to you by Forrester Research and InfoWorld, meet the challenges of accelerated change

The EA practice needed to “turn business vision into IT action” and to complete the job before Nov. 1, 2015. This deadline, which was also the beginning of Open Enrollment for 2016, was not going to move. Ten months later, Aetna had:

  • Successfully run its first Scaled Agile Framework program, with more than 700 people involved at the height of staffing
  • Integrated software from 15 different sources through more than 400 integration points
  • Institutionalized a multispeed approach to IT delivery (separating systems of engagement, systems of record, and systems of insight)
  • Delivered a new digital experience based on more than 40 APIs
  • Established a strategic next-gen integration platform that can reliably and cost-effectively deliver large numbers of hybrid integrations

Prior to the initiative, EA had been sitting “outside” delivery projects. For the Consumer Business program, architects needed to become integral parts of delivery scrum teams, while at the same time providing an architectural runway to keep the program moving at optimal speed.

To accomplish its goals, the company needed approximately 70 architects to engage in the program, divided into three distinct roles: systems architects to engage at the program level; solutions architects to create solution sketches and determine the information flow; and integration architects to translate information needs into actual integration designs, which included services and APIs, as well as managed file transfers and data transformations.

To further promote quick decisions, the EA practice established an “architecture risk scrum” held at 4 p.m. every day that brought together all three types of architects to address pressing issues. The scrum has become “tier 0” of Aetna’s overall EA governance scheme. In addition, solution and integration architects were empowered to focus on (and become experts in) their designated aspect of a complex hybrid project. Architects became part of delivery teams; risk and value became the focus rather than compliance.

The benefits included integration of software from 15 different sources through 400 integration points, delivered in 10 months and at less than 25 percent of the traditional cost of integration. Design defects were reduced by 50 percent and delivery speed was doubled. All told, 90 percent of architecture risks were eliminated within five days.

Over the next three years, Aetna plans to turn its “architecture guild” into a source of trusted advice for IT and business executives. Already, requests for architecture resources have never been higher, thanks to a reputation for turning vision into action. EA Awards judge Gary Smylie observed that Aetna’s EA practice had “moved from information and app architecture to solution and integration architecture.” He also praised the organization’s success in “quickly addressing architecture risks and increasing delivery speed.”

Cummins: Service-enabling digital transformation

Cummins is a global leader in designing, manufacturing, and servicing engines and related technologies, from fuel systems to power generators.


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