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Enterprise Architecture Means Thinking Business First, then Technology

By Steven Van Wyk, CIO/COO, The PNC Financial Services Group

Steven Van Wyk, CIO/COO, The PNC Financial Services Group

Today, approximately 60 percent of our retail customers at PNC rely on non-branch channels—a clear sign to us that having a strong digital strategy is crucial to ensuring that we can service customers. But providing a seamless digital experience to customers is not just about managing user friendly front-end channels. Although the user experience plays an important role, it’s crucial that our enterprise architecture provides a strong foundation to support this.

As such, we have a dedicated team for enterprise architecture. Full commitment in this way is essential to building enterprise-wide strategic roadmaps. This would be too challenging to achieve as part of a part time effort from other siloed functions within the organization.

"The model is based on a service-oriented architecture that defines the standard business capabilities that make up a bank- such as payments, loan offerings or trading facilities"

What Does Our Enterprise Architecture Roadmap Look Like?

At PNC, the enterprise architecture team is charged with having a complete picture of our technology and application portfolio. Alongside defining standards and building plans for new technology, the team also focuses on identifying opportunities to rationalize and simplify our existing IT-portfolio.

The key to building a successful enterprise architecture roadmap is to think business first, not technology first. We build our strategies based on what our business wants to accomplish, and from there work out what capabilities are required to support that. The roadmap identifies how we will get there from our current state.

Managing these roadmaps requires a structured framework. Our structured framework of choice is created and maintained by the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN), where I serve as chairman. In addition we used TOGAF as our EA practice model. The combination of both gives us a very powerful set of tools.

Our Commitment to BIAN

BIAN’s collaborative ecosystem is formed of leading banks, technology providers, consultants, and academics from all over the globe. Together we’re dedicated to lowering the cost of banking and boosting speed to innovation in the industry, by enabling open banking through open interoperability.

The model is based on a service-oriented architecture that defines the standard business capabilities that make up a bank—such as payments, loan offerings, or trading facilities. By identifying the information dependencies between these standard business capabilities, PNC, along with the other BIAN members, is building a simplified, yet comprehensive solution to enterprise architecture.

Our Journey to Adopting the BIAN Model at PNC

The BIAN model fits perfectly in line with how we view enterprise architecture at PNC. One of the first steps we took as an organization was to bring a business perspective to enterprise architecture. To us, technology is not just a collection of servers and software, but rather a set of technical solutions that are aligned to specific business capabilities and functions.

Adding the Business View

As such, we looked at every application that existed in our portfolio and mapped it to the aligned BIAN service domains in our EA management tool.

With our application catalog mapped to business functions, we could then look across our entire portfolio and understand what systems were providing similar or overlapping capabilities. This gave us a clear view of potential areas for optimizing, while also creating a consistent and replicable way to evaluate proposed new solutions for our application portfolio.

Creating Bank on a Page

From there, we were able to create a single top-down view of our organization’s business capabilities. This allowed us to create a business driven “bank on a page” heat map, using BIAN’s M4 model, to show what areas were suffering from obsolescence and compliance issues. As we move forward, we can align our risk and project portfolio views to the same bank on a page overview.

Positioning for Disruptive Industry Change

Using BIAN’s framework, we can move our core platforms into a componentized framework, which allows us to manage our transformation in logical steps that are aligned with the overall business strategy. Over time we can then transform the entire core into a componentized framework that is broken down into services.

Alongside organizing our existing infrastructure, defining our technology into capabilities in this way sets us up for future innovation. The proliferation of FinTech companies has accelerated in recent years, setting new expectations with new business models that sometimes compete directly with banks. We are evolving our core banking capabilities into a componentized framework that will allow us to embrace evolving business expectations and customer demands. Exploring open banking APIs, for example in a collaborative project with BIAN and Carnegie Mellon University, and the search for innovation partnerships becomes easier when you are no longer tied to the past era’s monolithic application approaches.

By investing in the ability to plan and strategize at the enterprise level, we have created a foundation that continues to develop and become more consolidated with every transformation we take on—rather than more complicated. We are able to focus more on the strategic side of business and less on the tactical because each endeavor builds upon prior work and moves us further along our strategic roadmaps. By aligning to the BIAN framework we are assured that our enterprise architecture can continuously adapt to new market and technology demands.