Enterprise architecture (EA) at American Express was the framework the organization used to align IT and the business. EA provided a common language for leaders to use to collaborate and transform the business. At American Express, enterprise architects were the change agents who streamlined processes and designed ways to more effectively do business using IT resources. In 2011, American Express was named an InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award recipient for its EA practices. As American Express leaders considered new payment methods using mobile devices, the EA guided their progress.
Mobile payments were forcing the payments industry to review their practices and significantly transform the way business was done. The new business environment introduced additional complexity with the addition of new delivery chan- nels and the need for shorter time‐to‐market of payment products and services. American Express’s business strategy for its payments products focused on delivering a “consistent, global, integrated customer experience based on services running on a common application platform.”
To achieve this goal, the EA team created reference architectures and road maps for standardized applications across the firm. This team then worked with multiple business solution delivery teams to create and manage the common application architecture and create strategies that facilitated each business’s objectives. Each strategy included a road map of initiatives that included a set of actions, the metrics to evaluate the success of these actions, and the commitments IT and the businesses made to make it happen. The road map was American Express’s way to standardize language, tools, life cycle management of the applications, and architecture and governance processes. The elements of the road map included technology, reference architecture, and capabilities for the business.
The next steps for American Express were to extend the road maps to cover the maturing of SOA and to develop new reference architectures and a new taxonomy to increasingly align IT with the needs of the business. As new technologies emerged and new ways of doing business over social tools created opportunities for new payment products and services, American Express expected to continually evolve its EA.