Convergence… Blockchain chains

September 18, 2017

For anyone who has been in and around IT for any length of time, especially in the ‘front end’ innovation arena… the word convergence can seem to be a constant theme amongst all the change.

And now I am seeing lots of great use cases develop around blockchain… people are identifying how to use blockchain technology to build mini business networks in order to spin up new business models and ways of working. For example, mobile payments for drivers of vehicles to pay Tolls, for Fuel etc… and mobile ‘passports’ for the same driver to be access multiple services from collaborating business partners.

Of course, these are great examples in their own right and at this stage are pioneering the use of thes etechnologies whilst the world tries them out, gets used to their power and applicability, and then adjusts to take best advanatge of them.

As someone with an Enterprise Architecture background, I observe that these unrelated use cases are starting to converge, and soon (if not already) will have common actors, common nodes, and even common transactions… and blockchains will start to nest/ interact.

Thankfully I didn’t throw away the Architectural Thinking handbook… as it is surely only a matter of time before we need to address how to continuously architect these interdependent, semi-autonomous chains and networks towards common outcomes and goals of great user experience and good design!

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Digital Assets

June 21, 2017

2017-06-21_16-44-15Working on a theme around maturity levels following a workshop at AMRC yesterday with various sized industrial companies.

There are a lot of different understandings around how AI or Cognitive can be applied to the industrial world.

To me, aside from the coping framework of Product v Enterprise v Ecosystem I have previously talked of… I also use a scale to help me frame the difference between more traditional analytics and advanced forms up to cognitive.


National Infrastructure Forum

June 14, 2017

 

This week I attended the National Infrastructure Forum. Lots of construction and transport conversations. Not an immediately obvious place to find an Architect and CTO from a Technology company…. but…. virtually all of the conversations and presentations used terms like Digital Twin, Data Lakes, Connected Ecosystems, and Digital Transformation…. and there were many many references to learning lessons from other sectors around the need to embrace digital better but also the vital role that infrastructure providers can play in delivering that digital promise… ranging from the records of what we build being used throughout the lifecycle through to ensuring that people who travel on our transport infrastructure for example can be best connected as they do so… integrating the digital experience of the traveller with the actual operational set up of the physical infrastructure.

Although coming from a long way back, the mindset being displayted was engaging and exciting… and could take us a very long way forward as a nation if the big programmes such as HS2 lead the way.


Outthink tomorrow

May 22, 2017

We launched our new technology strategy last week, laying out those things we feel are most important to our industry … and most valuable we bring to our clients.

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I used an Architected Approach to develop the content, bringing structure behind the vision and intent.

A simple but effective bit of configuration management – that we all know and love in Engineering – means that whenever things change, we can keep a line of sight… without breaking the journeys people have started on.

Simple catalogues of the component parts of the strategy – things like assets for example, and relationship matrices showing which assets support which solution offerings etc,.. mean we have a solid and reliable method with rigour and dependency behind it.

Its good to see that some good old fashioned systems engineering dsicipline is still so well received!


IoT & Ecosystems

April 13, 2017

I am due to speak now at BCS Elite in Leeds on IoT & Ecosystems. The main topic was IoT but increasingly I was finding that people would start off any discussion on IoT with comments like “its been around for years”… which is probably true.

So I find when I hear a comment like that, well why is it of interest now? Has something happened that makes it more worthy of discussion?

Coming back to my way of looking at Industrial organisations as having 3 main focuses (from an EA point of view)… the products they make, the facilities they make those products in and the ecosystems that their products operate in.  Again here, picking up on previous threads – an ecosystem is not simply a coincidental co-existence of a number of entities… it is a deliberate construct of semi-autonomous units that interact with shared purpose for common goals.  And if that sounds familiar… think how we originally defined EA!

By way of example, a driverless car is a ‘smart’ product… but once it is out on the streets it is potentially part of an ecosystem. However, if it simply operates on its own… then it is ‘just’ a clever product.

If it can interact with other vehicles, pedestrians, parking spaces, petrol (or electric) pumps,… to reach common goals of safety, transfer of people/goods, efficiency, etc etc… it is part of an ecosystem. An ecosystem that involves parties who were not necessarily part of the original design.

 


Viable Ecosystems Modelling

April 2, 2017

Viable Systems Modelling – something I first learned of at Warwick University, reading Stafford Beer’s works.

It was a tough read I will admit. I needed a dictionary to get me through the first page alone. But once I got to the models, it has stayed with me ever since. Biological models, Ecological models, any system… including business models should follow the same principles for viability. And that includes Ecosystems whether they are fauna and flora based or business and IT based.


Ecosystems Architecture

February 6, 2017

Wider than an Enterprise, although of course you can define the meanings as you wish, but if we consider Ecosystems here to be multiple parties and organisations that operate in the same space… perhaps without even being aware/ connected in any obvious way with the other parties… we have a new space to consider.

Why does this matter? We have previously looked at supply chains and collaborative groups that need to exchange information and share processes in order to achieve common goals. 

These are ecosystems. On top of these however, we also have ecosystems that include parties from other sectors or groups, sometimes on an ad hoc basis, and we need to be able to understand how to model, plan and “govern” them in order to guide the solutions of the future. Blockchain brings this to the fore. The ideas that people have around Blockchain nearly all involve a wide variety of actors… including individuals, financial institutions, manufacturers, retailers, authorities etc… we have rarely architected across such diverse groups… meaning we need to architect more carefully… almost from first principles.

What do we need? The same skills, a bit of flair and imagination. EA is out of date… EA is back!