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The Open Group Panel: Internet of Things – Opportunities and Obstacles

Below is the transcript of The Open Group podcast exploring the challenges and ramifications of the Internet of Things, as machines and sensors collect vast amounts of data.

Listen to the podcast.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview series coming to you in conjunction with recent The Open Group Boston 2014 on July 21 in Boston.

Dana Gardner I’m Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I’ll be your host and moderator throughout these discussions on Open Platform 3.0 and Boundaryless Information Flow.

We’re going to now specifically delve into the Internet of Things with a panel of experts. The conference has examined how Open Platform 3.0™ leverages the combined impacts of cloud, big data, mobile, and social. But to each of these now we can add a new cresting wave of complexity and scale as we consider the rapid explosion of new devices, sensors, and myriad endpoints that will be connected using internet protocols, standards and architectural frameworks.

This means more data, more cloud connectivity and management, and an additional tier of “things” that are going to be part of the mobile edge — and extending that mobile edge ever deeper into even our own bodies.

When we think about inputs to these social networks — that’s going to increase as well. Not only will people be tweeting, your device could be very well tweet, too — using social networks to communicate. Perhaps your toaster will soon be sending you a tweet about your English muffins being ready each morning.

The Internet of Things is more than the “things” – it means a higher order of software platforms. For example, if we are going to operate data centers with new dexterity thanks to software-definited networking (SDN) and storage (SDS) — indeed the entire data center being software-defined (SDDC) — then why not a software-defined automobile, or factory floor, or hospital operating room — or even a software-defined city block or neighborhood?

And so how does this all actually work? Does it easily spin out of control? Or does it remain under proper management and governance? Do we have unknown unknowns about what to expect with this new level of complexity, scale, and volume of input devices?

Will architectures arise that support the numbers involved, interoperability, and provide governance for the Internet of Things — rather than just letting each type of device do its own thing?

To help answer some of these questions, The Open Group assembled a distinguished panel to explore the practical implications and limits of the Internet of Things. So please join me in welcoming Said Tabet, Chief Technology Officer for Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy at EMC, and a primary representative to the Industrial Internet Consortium; Penelope Gordon, Emerging Technology Strategist at 1Plug Corporation; Jean-Francois Barsoum, Senior Managing Consultant for Smarter Cities, Water and Transportation at IBM, and Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer at The Open Group.

Jean-Francois, we have heard about this notion of “cities as platforms,” and I think the public sector might offer us some opportunity to look at what is going to happen with the Internet of Things, and then extrapolate from that to understand what might happen in the private sector.

Hypothetically, the public sector has a lot to gain. It doesn’t have to go through the same confines of a commercial market development, profit motive, and that sort of thing. Tell us a little bit about what the opportunity is in the public sector for smart cities.

Barsoum_Jean-FrancoisJean-Francois Barsoum: It’s immense. The first thing I want to do is link to something that Marshall Van Alstyne (Professor at Boston University and Researcher at MIT) had talked about, because I was thinking about his way of approaching platforms and thinking about how cities represent an example of that.

You don’t have customers; you have citizens. Cities are starting to see themselves as platforms, as ways to communicate with their customers, their citizens, to get information from them and to communicate back to them. But the complexity with cities is that as a good a platform as they could be, they’re relatively rigid. They’re legislated into existence and what they’re responsible for is written into law. It’s not really a market.

Chris Harding (Forum Director of The Open Group Open Platform 3.0) earlier mentioned, for example, water and traffic management. Cities could benefit greatly by managing traffic a lot better.

Part of the issue is that you might have a state or provincial government that looks after highways. You might have the central part of the city that looks after arterial networks. You might have a borough that would look after residential streets, and these different platforms end up not talking to each other.

They gather their own data. They put in their own widgets to collect information that concerns them, but do not necessarily share with their neighbor. One of the conditions that Marshall said would favor the emergence of a platform had to do with how much overlap there would be in your constituents and your customers. In this case, there’s perfect overlap. It’s the same citizen, but they have to carry an Android and an iPhone, despite the fact it is not the best way of dealing with the situation.

The complexities are proportional to the amount of benefit you could get if you could solve them.

Gardner: So more interoperability issues?

Barsoum: Yes.

More hurdles

Gardner: More hurdles, and when you say commensurate, you’re saying that the opportunity is huge, but the hurdles are huge and we’re not quite sure how this is going to unfold.

Barsoum: That’s right.

Gardner: Let’s go to an area where the opportunity outstrips the challenge, manufacturing. Said, what is the opportunity for the software-defined factory floor for recognizing huge efficiencies and applying algorithmic benefits to how management occurs across domains of supply-chain, distribution, and logistics. It seems to me that this is a no-brainer. It’s such an opportunity that the solution must be found.

Tabet_SaidSaid Tabet: When it comes to manufacturing, the opportunities are probably much bigger. It’s where we can see a lot of progress that has already been done and still work is going on. There are two ways to look at it.

One is the internal side of it, where you have improvements of business processes. For example, similar to what Jean-Francois said, in a lot of the larger companies that have factories all around the world, you’ll see such improvements on a factory base level. You still have those silos at that level.

Now with this new technology, with this connectedness, those improvements are going to be made across factories, and there’s a learning aspect to it in terms of trying to manage that data. In fact, they do a better job. We still have to deal with interoperability, of course, and additional issues that could be jurisdictional, etc.

However, there is that learning that allows them to improve their processes across factories. Maintenance is one of them, as well as creating new products, and connecting better with their customers. We can see a lot of examples in the marketplace. I won’t mention names, but there are lots of them out there with the large manufacturers.

Gardner: We’ve had just-in-time manufacturing and lean processes for quite some time, trying to compress the supply chain and distribution networks, but these haven’t necessarily been done through public networks, the internet, or standardized approaches.

But if we’re to benefit, we’re going to need to be able to be platform companies, not just product companies. How do you go from being a proprietary set of manufacturing protocols and approaches to this wider, standardized interoperability architecture?

Tabet: That’s a very good question, because now we’re talking about that connection to the customer. With the airline and the jet engine manufacturer, for example, when the plane lands and there has been some monitoring of the activity during the whole flight, at that moment, they’ll get that data made available. There could be improvements and maybe solutions available as soon as the plane lands.

Interoperability

That requires interoperability. It requires Platform 3.0 for example. If you don’t have open platforms, then you’ll deal with the same hurdles in terms of proprietary technologies and integration in a silo-based manner.

Gardner: Penelope, you’ve been writing about the obstacles to decision-making that might become apparent as big data becomes more prolific and people try to capture all the data about all the processes and analyze it. That’s a little bit of a departure from the way we’ve made decisions in organizations, public and private, in the past.

Of course, one of the bigger tenets of Internet of Things is all this great data that will be available to us from so many different points. Is there a conundrum of some sort? Is there an unknown obstacle for how we, as organizations and individuals, can deal with that data? Is this going to be chaos, or is this going to be all the promises many organizations have led us to believe around big data in the Internet of Things?

Gordon_PenelopePenelope Gordon: It’s something that has just been accelerated. This is not a new problem in terms of the decision-making styles not matching the inputs that are being provided into the decision-making process.

Former US President Bill Clinton was known for delaying making decisions. He’s a head-type decision-maker and so he would always want more data and more data. That just gets into a never-ending loop, because as people collect data for him, there is always more data that you can collect, particularly on the quantitative side. Whereas, if it is distilled down and presented very succinctly and then balanced with the qualitative, that allows intuition to come to fore, and you can make optimal decisions in that fashion.

Conversely, if you have someone who is a heart-type or gut-type decision-maker and you present them with a lot of data, their first response is to ignore the data. It’s just too much for them to take in. Then you end up completely going with whatever you feel is correct or whatever you have that instinct that it’s the correct decision. If you’re talking about strategic decisions, where you’re making a decision that’s going to influence your direction five years down the road, that could be a very wrong decision to make, a very expensive decision, and as you said, it could be chaos.

It just brings to mind to me Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat with Thing One and Thing Two. So, as we talk about the Internet of Things, we need to keep in mind that we need to have some sort of structure that we are tying this back to and understanding what are we trying to do with these things.

Gardner: Openness is important, and governance is essential. Then, we can start moving toward higher-order business platform benefits. But, so far, our panel has been a little bit cynical. We’ve heard that the opportunity and the challenges are commensurate in the public sector and that in manufacturing we’re moving into a whole new area of interoperability, when we think about reaching out to customers and having a boundary that is managed between internal processes and external communications.

And we’ve heard that an overload of data could become a very serious problem and that we might not get benefits from big data through the Internet of Things, but perhaps even stumble and have less quality of decisions.

So Dave Lounsbury of The Open Group, will the same level of standardization work? Do we need a new type of standards approach, a different type of framework, or is this a natural path and course what we have done in the past?

Different level

Lounsbury_DaveDave Lounsbury: We need to look at the problem at a different level than we institutionally think about an interoperability problem. Internet of Things is riding two very powerful waves, one of which is Moore’s Law, that these sensors, actuators, and network get smaller and smaller. Now we can put Ethernet in a light switch right, a tag, or something like that.

Also, Metcalfe’s Law that says that the value of all this connectivity goes up with the square of the number of connected points, and that applies to both the connection of the things but more importantly the connection of the data.

The trouble is, as we have said, that there’s so much data here. The question is how do you manage it and how do you keep control over it so that you actually get business value from it. That’s going to require us to have this new concept of a platform to not only to aggregate, but to just connect the data, aggregate it, correlate it as you said, and present it in ways that people can make decisions however they want.

Also, because of the raw volume, we have to start thinking about machine agency. We have to think about the system actually making the routine decisions or giving advice to the humans who are actually doing it. Those are important parts of the solution beyond just a simple “How do we connect all the stuff together?”

Gardner: We might need a higher order of intelligence, now that we have reached this border of what we can do with our conventional approaches to data, information, and process.

Thinking about where this works best first in order to then understand where it might end up later, I was intrigued again this morning by Professor Van Alstyne. He mentioned that in healthcare, we should expect major battles, that there is a turf element to this, that the organization, entity or even commercial corporation that controls and manages certain types of information and access to that information might have some very serious platform benefits.

The openness element now is something to look at, and I’ll come back to the public sector. Is there a degree of openness that we could legislate or regulate to require enough control to prevent the next generation of lock-in, which might not be to a platform to access to data information and endpoints? Where is it in the public sector that we might look to a leadership position to establish needed openness and not just interoperability.

Barsoum: I’m not even sure where to start answering that question. To take healthcare as an example, I certainly didn’t write the bible on healthcare IT systems and if someone did write that, I think they really need to publish it quickly.

We have a single-payer system in Canada, and you would think that would be relatively easy to manage. There is one entity that manages paying the doctors, and everybody gets covered the same way. Therefore, the data should be easily shared among all the players and it should be easy for you to go from your doctor, to your oncologist, to whomever, and maybe to your pharmacy, so that everybody has access to this same information.

We don’t have that and we’re nowhere near having that. If I look to other areas in the public sector, areas where we’re beginning to solve the problem are ones where we face a crisis, and so we need to address that crisis rapidly.

Possibility of improvement

In the transportation infrastructure, we’re getting to that point where the infrastructure we have just doesn’t meet the needs. There’s a constraint in terms of money, and we can’t put much more money into the structure. Then, there are new technologies that are coming in. Chris had talked about driverless cars earlier. They’re essentially throwing a wrench into the works or may be offering the possibility of improvement.

On any given piece of infrastructure, you could fit twice as many driverless cars as cars with human drivers in them. Given that set of circumstances, the governments are going to find they have no choice but to share data in order to be able to manage those. Are there cases where we could go ahead of a crisis in order to manage it? I certainly hope so.

Gardner: How about allowing some of the natural forces of marketplaces, behavior, groups, maybe even chaos theory, where if sufficient openness is maintained there will be some kind of a pattern that will emerge? We need to let this go through its paces, but if we have artificial barriers, that might be thwarted or power could go to places that we would regret later.

Barsoum: I agree. People often focus on structure. So the governance doesn’t work. We should find some way to change the governance of transportation. London has done a very good job of that. They’ve created something called Transport for London that manages everything related to transportation. It doesn’t matter if it’s taxis, bicycles, pedestrians, boats, cargo trains, or whatever, they manage it.

You could do that, but it requires a lot of political effort. The other way to go about doing it is saying, “I’m not going to mess with the structures. I’m just going to require you to open and share all your data.” So, you’re creating a new environment where the governance, the structures, don’t really matter so much anymore. Everybody shares the same data.

Gardner: Said, to the private sector example of manufacturing, you still want to have a global fabric of manufacturing capabilities. This is requiring many partners to work in concert, but with a vast new amount of data and new potential for efficiency.

How do you expect that openness will emerge in the manufacturing sector? How will interoperability play when you don’t have to wait for legislation, but you do need to have cooperation and openness nonetheless?

Tabet: It comes back to the question you asked Dave about standards. I’ll just give you some examples. For example, in the automotive industry, there have been some activities in Europe around specific standards for communication.

The Europeans came to the US and started to have discussions, and the Japanese have interest, as well as the Chinese. That shows, because there is a common interest in creating these new models from a business standpoint, that these challenges they have to be dealt with together.

Managing complexity

When we talk about the amounts of data, what we call now big data, and what we are going to see in about five years or so, you can’t even imagine. How do we manage that complexity, which is multidimensional? We talked about this sort of platform and then further, that capability and the data that will be there. From that point of view, openness is the only way to go.

There’s no way that we can stay away from it and still be able to work in silos in that new environment. There are lots of things that we take for granted today. I invite some of you to go back and read articles from 10 years ago that try to predict the future in technology in the 21st century. Look at your smart phones. Adoption is there, because the business models are there, and we can see that progress moving forward.

Collaboration is a must, because it is a multidimensional level. It’s not just manufacturing like jet engines, car manufacturers, or agriculture, where you have very specific areas. They really they have to work with their customers and the customers of their customers.

Adoption is there, because the business models are there, and we can see that progress moving forward.

Gardner: Dave, I have a question for both you and Penelope. I’ve seen some instances where there has been a cooperative endeavor for accessing data, but then making it available as a service, whether it’s an API, a data set, access to a data library, or even analytics applications set. The Ocean Observatories Initiative is one example, where it has created a sensor network across the oceans and have created data that then they make available.

Do you think we expect to see an intermediary organization level that gets between the sensors and the consumers or even controllers of the processes? Is there’s a model inherent in that that we might look to — something like that cooperative data structure that in some ways creates structure and governance, but also allows for freedom? It’s sort of an entity that we don’t have yet in many organizations or many ecosystems and that needs to evolve.

Lounsbury: We’re already seeing that in the marketplace. If you look at the commercial and social Internet of Things area, we’re starting to see intermediaries or brokers cropping up that will connect the silo of my android ecosystem to the ecosystem of package tracking or something like that. There are dozens and dozens of these cropping up.

In fact, you now see APIs even into a silo of what you might consider a proprietary system and what people are doing is to to build a layer on top of those APIs that intermediate the data.

This is happening on a point-to-point basis now, but you can easily see the path forward. That’s going to expand to large amounts of data that people will share through a third party. I can see this being a whole new emerging market much as what Google did for search. You could see that happening for the Internet of Things.

Gardner: Penelope, do you have any thoughts about how that would work? Is there a mutually assured benefit that would allow people to want to participate and cooperate with that third entity? Should they have governance and rules about good practices, best practices for that intermediary organization? Any thoughts about how data can be managed in this sort of hierarchical model?

Nothing new

Gordon: First, I’ll contradict it a little bit. To me, a lot of this is nothing new, particularly coming from a marketing strategy perspective, with business intelligence (BI). Having various types of intermediaries, who are not only collecting the data, but then doing what we call data hygiene, synthesis, and even correlation of the data has been around for a long time.

It was an interesting, when I looked at recent listing of the big-data companies, that some notable companies were excluded from that list — companies like Nielsen. Nielsen’s been collecting data for a long time. Harte-Hanks is another one that collects a tremendous amount of information and sells that to companies.

That leads into the another part of it that I think there’s going to be. We’re seeing an increasing amount of opportunity that involves taking public sources of data and then providing synthesis on it. What remains to be seen is how much of the output of that is going to be provided for “free”, as opposed to “fee”. We’re going to see a lot more companies figuring out creative ways of extracting more value out of data and then charging directly for that, rather than using that as an indirect way of generating traffic.

Gardner: We’ve seen examples of how this has been in place. Does it scale and does the governance or lack of governance that might be in the market now sustain us through the transition into Platform 3.0 and the Internet of Things.

Gordon: That aspect is the lead-on part of “you get what you pay for”. If you’re using a free source of data, you don’t have any guarantee that it is from authoritative sources of data. Often, what we’re getting now is something somebody put it in a blog post, and then that will get referenced elsewhere, but there was nothing to go back to. It’s the shaky supply chain for data.

You need to think about the data supply and that is where the governance comes in. Having standards is going to increasingly become important, unless we really address a lot of the data illiteracy that we have. A lot of people do not understand how to analyze data.

One aspect of that is a lot of people expect that we have to do full population surveys, as opposed representative sampling to get much more accurate and much more cost-effective collection of data. That’s just one example, and we do need a lot more in governance and standards.

Gardner: What would you like to see changed most in order for the benefits and rewards of the Internet of Things to develop and overcome the drawbacks, the risks, the downside? What, in your opinion, would you like to see happen to make this a positive, rapid outcome? Let’s start with you Jean-Francois.

Barsoum: There are things that I have seen cities start to do now. There are couple of examples: Philadelphia is one and Barcelona does this too. Rather than do the typical request for proposal (RFP), where they say, “This is the kind of solution we’re looking for, and here are our parameters. Can l you tell us how much it is going to cost to build,” they come to you with the problem and they say, “Here is the problem I want to fix. Here are my priorities, and you’re at liberty to decide how best to fix the problem, but tell us how much that would cost.”

If you do that and you combine it with access to the public data that is available — if public sector opens up its data — you end up with a very powerful combination that liberates a lot of creativity. You can create a lot of new business models. We need to see much more of that. That’s where I would start.

More education

Tabet: I agree with Jean-Francois on that. What I’d like to add is that I think we need to push the relation a little further. We need more education, to your point earlier, around the data and the capabilities.

We need these platforms that we can leverage a little bit further with the analytics, with machine learning, and with all of these capabilities that are out there. We have to also remember, when we talk about the Internet of Things, it is things talking to each other.

So it is not human-machine communication. Machine-to-machine automation will be further than that, and we need more innovation and more work in this area, particularly more activity from the governments. We’ve seen that, but it is a little bit frail from that point of view right now.

Gardner: Dave Lounsbury, thoughts about what need to happen in order to keep this on the tracks?

Lounsbury: We’ve touched on lot of them already. Thank you for mentioning the machine-to-machine part, because there are plenty of projections that show that it’s going to be the dominant form of Internet communication, probably within the next four years.

So we need to start thinking of that and moving beyond our traditional models of humans talking through interfaces to set of services. We need to identify the building blocks of capability that you need to manage, not only the information flow and the skilled person that is going to produce it, but also how you manage the machine-to-machine interactions.

Gordon: I’d like to see not so much focus on data management, but focus on what is the data managing and helping us to do. Focusing on the machine-to-machine and the devices is great, but it should be not on the devices or on the machines… it should be on what can they accomplish by communicating; what can you accomplish with the devices and then have a reverse engineer from that.

Gardner: Let’s go to some questions from the audience. The first one asks about a high order of intelligence which we mentioned earlier. It could be artificial intelligence, perhaps, but they ask whether that’s really the issue. Is the nature of the data substantially different, or we are just creating more of the same, so that it is a storage, plumbing, and processing problem? What, if anything, are we lacking in our current analytics capabilities that are holding us back from exploiting the Internet of Things?

Gordon: I’ve definitely seen that. That has a lot to do with not setting your decision objectives and your decision criteria ahead of time so that you end up collecting a whole bunch of data, and the important data gets lost in the mix. There is a term “data smog.”

Most important

The solution is to figure out, before you go collecting data, what data is most important to you. If you can’t collect certain kinds of data that are important to you directly, then think about how to indirectly collect that data and how to get proxies. But don’t try to go and collect all the data for that. Narrow in on what is going to be most important and most representative of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Gardner: Does anyone want to add to this idea of understanding what current analytics capabilities are lacking, if we have to adopt and absorb the Internet of Things?

Barsoum: There is one element around projection into the future. We’ve been very good at analyzing historical information to understand what’s been happening in the past. We need to become better at projecting into the future, and obviously we’ve been doing that for some time already.

But so many variables are changing. Just to take the driverless car as an example. We’ve been collecting data from loop detectors, radar detectors, and even Bluetooth antennas to understand how traffic moves in the city. But we need to think harder about what that means and how we understand the city of tomorrow is going to work. That requires more thinking about the data, a little bit like what Penelope mentioned, how we interpret that, and how we push that out into the future.

Lounsbury: I have to agree with both. It’s not about statistics. We can use historical data. It helps with lot of things, but one of the major issues we still deal with today is the question of semantics, the meaning of the data. This goes back to your point, Penelope, around the relevance and the context of that information – how you get what you need when you need it, so you can make the right decisions.

Gardner: Our last question from the audience goes back to Jean-Francois’s comments about the Canadian healthcare system. I imagine it applies to almost any healthcare system around the world. But it asks why interoperability is so difficult to achieve, when we have the power of the purse, that is the market. We also supposedly have the power of the legislation and regulation. You would think between one or the other or both that interoperability, because the stakes are so high, would happen. What’s holding it up?

Barsoum: There are a couple of reasons. One, in the particular case of healthcare, is privacy, but that is one that you could see going elsewhere. As soon as you talk about interoperability in the health sector, people start wondering where is their data going to go and how accessible is it going to be and to whom.

You need to put a certain number of controls over top of that. What is happening in parallel is that you have people who own some data, who believe they have some power from owning that data, and that they will lose that power if they share it. That can come from doctors, hospitals, anywhere.

So there’s a certain amount of change management you have to get beyond. Everybody has to focus on the welfare of the patient. They have to understand that there has to be a priority, but you also have to understand the welfare of the different stakeholders in the system and make sure that you do not forget about them, because if you forget about them they will find some way to slow you down.

Use of an ecosystem

Lounsbury: To me, that’s a perfect example of what Marshall Van Alstyne talked about this morning. It’s the change from focus on product to a focus on an ecosystem. Healthcare traditionally has been very focused on a doctor providing product to patient, or a caregiver providing a product to a patient. Now, we’re actually starting to see that the only way we’re able to do this is through use of an ecosystem.

That’s a hard transition. It’s a business-model transition. I will put in a plug here for The Open Group Healthcare vertical, which is looking at that from architecture perspective. I see that our Forum Director Jason Lee is over here. So if you want to explore that more, please see him.

Gardner: I’m afraid we will have to leave it there. We’ve been discussing the practical implications of the Internet of Things and how it is now set to add a new dimension to Open Platform 3.0 and Boundaryless Information Flow.

We’ve heard how new thinking about interoperability will be needed to extract the value and orchestrate out the chaos with such vast new scales of inputs and a whole new categories of information.

So with that, a big thank you to our guests: Said Tabet, Chief Technology Officer for Governance, Risk and Compliance Strategy at EMC; Penelope Gordon, Emerging Technology Strategist at 1Plug Corp.; Jean-Francois Barsoum, Senior Managing Consultant for Smarter Cities, Water and Transportation at IBM, and Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technology Officer at The Open Group.

This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator throughout these discussions on Open Platform 3.0 and Boundaryless Information Flow at The Open Group Conference, recently held in Boston. Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript.

Transcript of The Open Group podcast exploring the challenges and ramifications of the Internet of Things, as machines and sensors collect vast amounts of data. Copyright The Open Group and Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2014. All rights reserved.

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Q&A with Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor, Boston University School of Management and Research Scientist MIT Center for Digital Business

By The Open Group

The word “platform” has become a nearly ubiquitous term in the tech and business worlds these days. From “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) to IDC’s Third Platform to The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Forum, the concept of platforms and building technology frames and applications on top of them has become the next “big thing.”

Although the technology industry tends to conceive of “platforms” as the vehicle that is driving trends such as mobile, social networking, the Cloud and Big Data, Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor at Boston University’s School of Management and a Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business, believes that the radical shifts that platforms bring are not just technological.

We spoke with Van Alstyne prior to The Open Group Boston 2014, where he presented a keynote, about platforms, how they have shifted traditional business models and how they are impacting industries everywhere.

The title of your session at the Boston conference was “Platform Shift – How New Open Business Models are Changing the Shape of Industry.” How would you define both “platform” and “open business model”?

I think of “platform” as a combination of two things. One, a set of standards or components that folks can take up and use for production of goods and services. The second thing is the rules of play, or the governance model – who has the ability to participate, how do you resolve conflict, and how do you divide up the royalty streams, or who gets what? You can think of it as the two components of the platform—the open standard together with the governance model. The technologists usually get the technology portion of it, and the economists usually get the governance and legal portions of it, but you really need both of them to understand what a ‘platform’ is.

What is the platform allowing then and how is that different from a regular business model?

The platform allows third parties to conduct business using system resources so they can actually meet and exchange goods across the platform. Wonderful examples of that include AirBnB where you can rent rooms or you can post rooms, or eBay, where you can sell goods or exchange goods, or iTunes where you can go find music, videos, apps and games provided by others, or Amazon where third parties are even allowed to set up shop on top of Amazon. They have moved to a business model where they can take control of the books in addition to allowing third parties to sell their own books and music and products and services through the Amazon platform. So by opening it up to allow third parties to participate, you facilitate exchange and grow a market by helping that exchange.

How does this relate to the concept of the technology industry is defining the “third platform”?

I think of it slightly differently. The tech industry uses mobile and social and cloud and data to characterize it. In some sense this view offers those as the attributes that characterize platforms or the knowledge base that enable platforms. But we would add to that the economic forces that actually shape platforms. What we want to do is give you some of the strategic tools, the incentives, the rules that will actually help you control their trajectory by helping you improve who participates and then measure and improve the value they contribute to the platform. So a full ecosystem view is not just the technology and the data, it also measures the value and how you divide that value. The rules of play really become important.

I think the “third platform” offers marvelous concepts and attributes but you also need to add the economics to it: Why do you participate, who gets what portions of the value, and who ultimately owns control.

Who does control the platform then?

A platform has multiple parts. Determining who controls what part is the art and design of the governance model. You have to set up control in the right way to motivate people to participate. But before we get to that, let’s go back and complete the idea of what’s an ‘open platform.’

To define an open platform, consider both the right of access and the right to manipulate platform resources, then consider granting those rights to four different parties. One is the user—can they access one another, can they access data, can they access system resources? Another group is developers—can they manipulate system resources, can they add new features to it, can they sell through the platform? The third group is the platform providers. You often think of them as those folks that facilitate access across the platform. To give you an example, iTunes is a single monolithic store, so the provider is simply Apple, but Android, in contrast, allows multiple providers, so there’s a Samsung Android store, an LTC Android store, a Google Android store, there’s even an Amazon version that uses a different version of Android. So that platform has multiple providers each with rights to access users. The fourth group is the party that controls the underlying property rights, who owns the IP. The ability modify the underlying standard and also the rights of access for other parties is the bottom-most layer.

So to answer the question of what is ‘open,’ you have to consider the rights of access of all four groups—the users, developers, the providers and IP rights holders, or sponsors, underneath.

Popping back up a level, we’re trying to motivate different parties to participate in the ecosystem. So what do you give the users? Usually it’s some kind of value. What do you give developers? Usually it’s some set of SDKs and APIs, but also some level of royalties. It’s fascinating. If you look back historically, Amazon initially tried a publishing royalty where they took 70% and gave a minority 30% back to developers. They found that didn’t fly very well and they had to fall back to the app store or software-style royalty, where they’re taking a lower percentage. I think Apple, for example, takes 30 percent, and Amazon is now close to that. You see ranges of royalties going anywhere from a few percent—an example is credit cards—all the way up to iStock photo where they take roughly 70 percent. That’s an extremely high rate, and one that I don’t recommend. We were just contracting for designs at 99Designs and they take a 20 percent cut. That’s probably more realistic, but lower might perhaps even be better—you can create stronger network effect if that’s the case.

Again, the real question of control is how you motivate third parties to participate and add value? If you are allowing them to use resources to create value and keep a lot of that value, then they’re more motivated to participate, to invest, to bring their resources to your platform. If you take most of the value they create, they won’t participate. They won’t add value. One of the biggest challenges for open platforms—what you might call the ‘Field of Dreams’ approach—is that most folks open their platform and assume ‘if you build it, they will come,’ but you really need to reward them to do so. Why would they want to come build with you? There are numerous instances of platforms that opened but no developer chooses to add value—the ecosystem is too small. You have to solve the chicken and egg problem where if you don’t have users, developers don’t want to build for you, but if you don’t have developer apps, then why do users participate? So you’ve got a huge feedback problem. And those are where the economics become critical, you must solve the chicken and egg problem to build and roll out platforms.

It’s not just a technology question; it’s also an economics and rewards question.

Then who is controlling the platform?

The answer depends on the type of platform. Giving different groups a different set of rights creates different types of platform. Consider the four different parties: users, developers, providers, and sponsors. At one extreme, the Apple Mac platform of the 1980s reserved most rights for development, for producing hardware (the provider layer), and for modifying the IP (the sponsor layer) all to Apple. Apple controlled the platform and it remained closed. In contrast, Microsoft relaxed platform control in specific ways. It licensed to multiple providers, enabling Dell, HP, Compaq and others to sell the platform. It gave developers rights of access to SDKs and APIs, enabling them to extend the platform. These control choices gave Microsoft more than six times the number of developers and more than twenty times the market share of Apple at the high point of Microsoft’s dominance of desktop operating systems. Microsoft gave up some control in order to create a more inclusive platform and a much bigger market.

Control is not a single concept. There are many different control rights you can grant to different parties. For example, you often want to give users an ability to control their own data. You often want to give developers intellectual property rights for the apps that they create and often over the data that their users create. You may want to give them some protections against platform misappropriation. Developers resent it if you take their ideas. So if the platform sees a really clever app that’s been built on top of its platform, what’s the guarantee that the platform simply doesn’t take it or build a competing app? You need to protect your developers in that case. Same thing’s true of the platform provider—what guarantees do they provide users for the quality of content provided on their ecosystem? For example, the Android ecosystem is much more open than the iPhone ecosystem, which means you have more folks offering stores. Simultaneously, that means that there are more viruses and more malware in Android, so what rights and guarantees do you require of the platform providers to protect the users in order that they want to participate? And then at the bottom, what rights do other participants have to control the direction of the platform growth? In the Visa model, for example, there are multiple member banks that help to influence the general direction of that credit card standard. Usually the most successful platforms have a single IP rights holder, but there are several examples of that have multiple IP rights holders.

So, in the end control defines the platform as much as the platform defines control.

What is the “secret” of the Internet-driven marketplace? Is that indeed the platform?

The secret is that, in effect, the goal of the platform is to increase transaction volume and value. If you can do that—and we can give you techniques for doing it—then you can create massive scale. Increasing the transaction value and transactions volume across your platform means that the owner of the platform doesn’t have to be the sole source of content and new ideas provided on the platform. If the platform owner is the only source of value then the owner is also the bottleneck. The goal is to consummate matches between producers and consumers of value. You want to help users find the content, find the resources, find the other people that they want to meet across your platform. In Apple’s case, you’re helping them find the music, the video, the games, and the apps that they want. In AirBnB’s case, you’re helping them find the rooms that they want, or Uber, you’re helping them find a driver. On Amazon, the book recommendations help you find the content that you want. In all the truly successful platforms, the owner of the platform is not providing all of that value. They’re enabling third parties to add that value, and that’s one reasy why The Open Group’s ideas are so important—you need open systems for this to happen.

What’s wrong with current linear business models? Why is a network-driven approach superior?

The fundamental reason why the linear business model no longer works is that it does not manage network effects. Network effects allow you to build platforms where users attract other users and you get feedback that grows your system. As more users join your platform, more developers join your platform, which attracts more users, which attracts more developers. You can see it on any of the major platforms. This is also true of Google. As advertisers use Google Search, the algorithms get better, people find the content that they want, so more advertisers use it. As more drivers join Uber, more people are happier passengers, which attracts more drivers. The more merchants accept Visa, the more consumers are willing to carry it, which attracts more merchants, which attracts more consumers. You get positive feedback.

The consequence of that is that you tend to get market concentration—you get winner take all markets. That’s where platforms dominate. So you have a few large firms within a given category, whether this is rides or books or hotels or auctions. Further, once you get network effects changing your business model, the linear insights into pricing, into inventory management, into innovation, into strategy breakdown.

When you have these multi-sided markets, pricing breaks down because you often price differently to one side than another because one side attracts the other. Inventory management practices breakdown because you’re selling inventory that you don’t even own. Your R&D strategies breakdown because now you’re motivating innovation and research outside the boundaries of the firm, as opposed to inside the internal R&D group. And your strategies breakdown because you’re not just looking for cost leadership or product differentiation, now you’re looking to shape the network effects as you create barriers to entry.

One of the things that I really want to argue strenuously is that in markets where platforms will emerge, platforms beat product every time. So the platform business model will inevitably beat the linear, product-based business model. Because you’re harnessing new forces in order to develop a different kind of business model.

Think of it the following way–imagine that value is growing as users consume your product. Think of any of the major platforms, as more folks use Google, search gets better, the more recommendations improve on Amazon, and the easier it is to find a ride on Uber, so more folks want to be on there. It is easier to scale network effects outside your business than inside your business. There’s simply more people outside than inside. The moment that happens, the locus control, the locus of innovation, moves from inside the firm to outside the firm. So the rules change. Pricing changes, your innovation strategies change, your inventory policies change, your R&D changes. You’re now managing resources outside the firm, rather than inside, in order to capture scale. This is different than the traditional industrial supply economies of scale.

Old systems are giving away to new systems. It’s not that the whole system breaks down, it’s simply that you’re looking to manage network effects and manage new business models. Another way to see this is that previously you were managing capital. In the industrial era, you were managing steel, you were managing large amounts of finance in banking, you were managing auto parts—huge supply economies of scale. In telecommunications, you were managing infrastructure. Now, you’re managing communities and these are managed outside the firm. The value that’s been created at Facebook or WhatsApp or Instagram or any of the new acquisitions, it’s not the capital that’s critical, it’s the communities that are critical, and these are built outside the firm.

There is a lot of talk in the industry about the Nexus of Forces as Gartner calls it, or Third Platform (IDC). The Open Group calls it Open Platform 3.0. Your concept goes well beyond technology—how does Open Platform 3.0 enable new business models?

Those are the enablers—they’re shall we say necessary, but they’re not sufficient. You really must harness the economic forces in addition to those enablers—mobile, social, Cloud, data. You must manage communities outside the firm, that’s the mobile and the social element of it. But this also involves designing governance and setting incentives. How are you capturing users outside the organization, how are they contributing, how are they being motivated to participate, why are they spreading your products to their peers? The Cloud allows it to scale—so Instagram and What’s App and others scale. Data allows you to “consummate the match.” You use that data to help people find what they need, to add value, so all of those things are the enablers. Then you have to harness the economics of the enablers to encourage people to do the right thing. You can see the correct intuition if you simply ask what happens if all you offer is a Cloud service and nothing more. Why will anyone use it? What’s the value to that system? If you open APIs to it, again, if you don’t have a user base, why are developers going to contribute? Developers want to reach users. Users want valuable functionality.

You must manage the motives and the value-add on the platform. New business models come from orchestrating not just the technology but also the third party sources of value. One of the biggest challenges is to grow these businesses from scratch—you’ve got the cold start chicken and egg problem. You don’t have network effects if you don’t have a user base, if you don’t have users, you don’t have network effects.

Do companies need to transform themselves into a “business platform” to succeed in this new marketplace? Are there industries immune to this shift?

There is a continuum of companies that are going to be affected. It starts at one end with companies that are highly information intense—anything that’s an information intensive business will be dramatically affected, anything that’s community or fashion-based business will be dramatically affected. Those include companies involved in media and news, songs, music, video; all of those are going to be the canaries in the coalmine that see this first. Moving farther along will be those industries that require some sort of certification—those include law and medicine and education—those, too, will also be platformized, so the services industries will become platforms. Farther down that are the ones that are heavily, heavily capital intensive where control of physical capital is paramount, those include trains and oil rigs and telecommunications infrastructure—eventually those will be affected by platform business models to the extent that data helps them gain efficiencies or add value, but they will in some sense be the last to be affected by platform business models. Look for the businesses where the cost side is shrinking in proportion to the delivery of value and where the network effects are rising as a proportional increase in value. Those forces will help you predict which industries will be transformed.

How can Enterprise Architecture be a part of this and how do open standards play a role?

The second part of that question is actually much easier. How do open standards play a role? The open standards make it much easier for third parties to attach and incorporate technology and features such that they can in turn add value. Open standards are essential to that happening. You do need to ask the question as to who controls those standards—is it completely open or is it a proprietary standard, a published standard but it’s not manipulable by a third party.

There will be at least two or three different things that Enterprise Architects need to do. One of these is to design modular components that are swappable, so as better systems become available, the better systems can be swapped in. The second element will be to watch for components of value that should be absorbed into the platform itself. As an example, in operating systems, web browsing has effectively been absorbed into the platform, streaming has been absorbed into the platform so that they become aware of how that actually works. A third thing they need to do is talk to the legal team to see where it is that the third parties property rights can be protected so that they invest. One of the biggest mistakes that firms make is to simply assume that because they own the platform, because they have the rights of control, that they can do what they please. If they do that, they risk alienating their ecosystems. So they should talk to their potential developers to incorporate developer concerns. One of my favorite examples is the Intel Architecture Lab which has done a beautiful job of articulating the voices of developers in their own architectural plans. A fourth thing that can be done is an idea borrowed from SAP, that builds Enterprise Architecture—they articulate an 18-24 month roadmap where they say these are the features that are coming, so you can anticipate and build on those. Also it gives you an idea of what features will be safe to build on so you won’t lose the value you’ve created.

What can companies do to begin opening their business models and more easily architect that?

What they should do is to consider four groups articulated earlier— those are the users, the providers, the developers and the sponsors—each serve a different role. Firms need to understand what their own role will be in order that they can open and architect the other roles within their ecosystem. They’ll also need to choose what levels of exclusivity they need to give their ecosystem partners in a different slice of the business. They should also figure out which of those components they prefer to offer themselves as unique competencies and where they need to seek third party assistance, either in new ideas or new resources or even new marketplaces. Those factors will help guide businesses toward different kinds of partnerships, and they’ll have to be open to those kinds of partners. In particular, they should think about where are they most likely to be missing ideas or missing opportunities. Those technical and business areas should open in order that third parties can take advantage of those opportunities and add value.

 

vanalstynemarshallProfessor Van Alstyne is one of the leading experts in network business models. He conducts research on information economics, covering such topics as communications markets, the economics of networks, intellectual property, social effects of technology, and productivity effects of information. As co-developer of the concept of “two sided networks” he has been a major contributor to the theory of network effects, a set of ideas now taught in more than 50 business schools worldwide.

Awards include two patents, National Science Foundation IOC, SGER, SBIR, iCorp and Career Awards, and six best paper awards. Articles or commentary have appeared in Science, Nature, Management Science, Harvard Business Review, Strategic Management Journal, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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The Open Group Boston 2014 Preview: Talking People Architecture with David Foote

By The Open Group

Among all the issues that CIOs, CTOs and IT departments are facing today, staffing is likely near the top of the list of what’s keeping them up at night. Sure, there’s dealing with constant (and disruptive) technological changes and keeping up with the latest tech and business trends, such as having a Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) or a mobile strategy, but without the right people with the right skills at the right time it’s impossible to execute on these initiatives.

Technology jobs are notoriously difficult to fill–far more difficult than positions in other industries where roles and skillsets may be much more static. And because technology is rapidly evolving, the roles for tech workers are also always in flux. Last year you may have needed an Agile developer, but today you may need a mobile developer with secure coding ability and in six months you might need an IoT developer with strong operations or logistics domain experience—with each position requiring different combinations of tech, functional area, solution and “soft” skillsets.

According to David Foote, IT Industry Analyst and co-founder of IT workforce research and advisory firm Foote Partners, the mash-up of HR systems and ad hoc people management practices most companies have been using for years to manage IT workers have become frighteningly ineffective. He says that to cope in today’s environment, companies need to architect their people infrastructure similar to how they have been architecting their technical infrastructure.

“People Architecture” is the term Foote has coined to describe the application of traditional architectural principles and practices that may already be in place elsewhere within an organization and applying them to managing the IT workforce. This includes applying such things as strategy and capability roadmaps, phase gate blueprints, benchmarks, performance metrics, governance practices and stakeholder management to human capital management (HCM).

HCM components for People Architecture typically include job definition and design, compensation, incentives and recognition, skills demand and acquisition, job and career paths, professional development and work/life balance.

Part of the dilemma for employers right now, Foote says, is that there is very little job title standardization in the marketplace and too many job titles floating around IT departments today. “There are too many dimensions and variability in jobs now that companies have gotten lost from an HR perspective. They’re unable to cope with the complexity of defining, determining pay and laying out career paths for all these jobs, for example. For many, serious retention and hiring problems are showing up for the first time. Work-around solutions used for years to cope with systemic weaknesses in their people management systems have stopped working,” says Foote. “Recruiters start picking off their best people and candidates are suddenly rejecting offers and a panic sets in. Tensions are palpable in their IT workforce. These IT realities are pervasive.”

Twenty-five years ago, Foote says, defining roles in IT departments was easier. But then the Internet exploded and technology became far more customer-facing, shifting basic IT responsibilities from highly technical people deep within companies to roles requiring more visibility and transparency within and outside the enterprise. Large chunks of IT budgets moved into the business lines while traditional IT became more of a business itself.

According to Foote, IT roles became siloed not just by technology but by functional areas such as finance and accounting, operations and logistics, sales, marketing and HR systems, and by industry knowledge and customer familiarity. Then the IT professional services industry rapidly expanded to compete with their customers for talent in the marketplace. Even the architect role changed: an Enterprise Architect today can specialize in applications, security or data architecture among others, or focus on a specific industry such as energy, retail or healthcare.

Foote likens the fragmentation of IT jobs and skillsets that’s happening now to the emergence of IT architecture 25 years ago. Just as technical architecture practices emerged to help make sense of the disparate systems rapidly growing within companies and how best to determine the right future tech investments, a people architecture approach today helps organizations better manage an IT workforce spread through the enterprise with roles ranging from architects and analysts to a wide variety of engineers, developers and project and program managers.

“Technical architecture practices were successful because—when you did them well—companies achieved an understanding of what they have systems-wise and then connected it to where they were going and how they were going to get there, all within a process inclusive of all the various stakeholders who shared the risk in the outcome. It helped clearly define enterprise technology capabilities and gave companies more options and flexibility going forward,” according to Foote.

“Right now employers desperately need to incorporate in human capital management systems and practice the same straightforward, inclusive architecture approaches companies are already using in other areas of their businesses. This can go a long way toward not just lessening staffing shortages but also executing more predictably and being more agile in face of constant uncertainties and the accelerating pace of change. Ultimately this translates into a more effective workforce whether they are full-timers or the contingent workforce of part-timers, consultants and contractors.

“It always comes down to your people. That’s not a platitude but a fact,” insists Foote. “If you’re not competitive in today’s labor marketplace and you’re not an employer where people want to work, you’re dead.”

One industry that he says has gotten it right is the consulting industry. “After all, their assets walk out the door every night. Consulting groups within firms such as IBM and Accenture have been good at architecting their staffing because it’s their job to get out in front of what’s coming technologically. Because these firms must anticipate customer needs before they get the call to implement services, they have to be ahead of the curve in already identifying and hiring the bench strength needed to fulfill demand. They do many things right to hire, develop and keep the staff they need in place.”

Unfortunately, many companies take too much of a just-in-time approach to their workforce so they are always managing staffing from a position of scarcity rather than looking ahead, Foote says. But, this is changing, in part due to companies being tired of never having the people they need and being able to execute predictably.

The key is to put a structure in place that addresses a strategy around what a company needs and when. This applies not just to the hiring process, but also to compensation, training and advancement.

“Architecting anything allows you to be able to, in a more organized way, be more agile in dealing with anything that comes at you. That’s the beauty of architecture. You plan for the fact that you’re going to continue to scale and continue to change systems, the world’s going to continue to change, but you have an orderly way to manage the governance, planning and execution of that, the strategy of that and the implementation of decisions knowing that the architecture provides a more agile and flexible modular approach,” he said.

Foote says organizations such as The Open Group can lend themselves to facilitating People Architecture in a couple different ways. First, through extending the principles of architecture to human capital management, and second through vendor-independent, expertise and experience driven certifications, such as TOGAF® or OpenCA and OpenCITS, that help companies define core competencies for people and that provide opportunities for training and career advancement.

“I’m pretty bullish on many vendor-independent certifications in general, particularly where a defined book of knowledge exists that’s achieved wide acceptance in the industry. And that’s what you’ve got with The Open Group. Nobody’s challenging the architectural framework supremacy of TOGAF that that I’m aware of. In fact, large vendors with their own certifications participated actively in developing the framework and applying it very successfully to their business models,” he said.

Although the process of implementing People Architecture can be difficult and may take several years to master (much like Enterprise Architecture), Foote says it is making a huge difference for companies that implement it.

To learn more about People Architecture and models for implementing it, plan to attend Foote’s session at The Open Group Boston 2014 on Tuesday July 22. Foote’s session will address how architectural principles are being applied to human capital so that organizations can better manage their workforces from hiring and training through compensation, incentives and advancement. He will also discuss how career paths for EAs can be architected. Following the conference, the session proceedings will be available to Open Group members and conference attendees at www.opengroup.org.

Join the conversation – #ogchat #ogBOS

footeDavid Foote is an IT industry research pioneer, innovator, and one of the most quoted industry analysts on global IT workforce trends and multiple facets of the human side of technology value creation. His two decades of groundbreaking deep research and analysis of IT-business cross-skilling and technology/business management integration and leading the industry in innovative IT skills demand and compensation benchmarking has earned him a place on a short list of thought leaders in IT human capital management.

A former Gartner and META Group analyst, David leads the research and analytical practice groups at Foote Partners that reach 2,300 customers on six continents.

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The Enterprise Architecture Kaleidoscope

By Stuart Boardman, Senior Business Consultant, Business & IT Advisory, KPN Consulting

Last week I attended a Club of Rome (Netherlands) debate about a draft report on sustainability and social responsibility. The author of the report described his approach as being like a kaleidoscope, because the same set of elements can form quite different pictures.

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Some people had some difficulty with this. They wanted a single picture they could focus on. To me it felt quite natural, because that’s very much what we try to do in Enterprise Architecture (EA) – produce different views of the same whole for the benefit of different stakeholders. And suddenly I realized how to express the relationship between EA and a broader topic like sustainability. That matters to me, because sustainability is something I’m passionate about and I’d like my work to be some small contribution to achieving that.

Before that, I’d been thinking that EA obviously has a role to play in a sustainable enterprise but I hadn’t convinced myself that the relationship was so fundamental – it felt a bit too much like wishful thinking on my part.

When we talk about sustainability today, we need to be clear that we’re not just talking about environmental issues and we’re certainly not talking about “greenwashing”. There’s an increasing awareness that a change needs to occur (and is to some extent occurring) in how we work, how we do business, how we relate to and value each other and how we relate to and value our natural environment.

This is relevant too for The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™. Plenty is written these days about the role that the Internet of Things and Big Data Analytics can play in sustainability. A lot is actually happening. Too much of this fails to take any account of the kaleidoscope and offers a purely technological and resource centric view of a shining future. People are reduced to being the happy consumers of this particular soma. By bringing other factors and in particular social media and locating the discussion in The Open Group’s traditions of Enterprise Architecture (and see also The Open Group’s work on Identity), these rather dangerous limitations can be overcome.

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 Source: Wikipedia

Success in any one of these areas is dependent on success in the others. That was really the message of the Club of Rome discussion.

And that’s where EA comes in – the architecture of a global enterprise. There are multiple stakeholders with multiple concerns. They range from a CEO with a company to keep afloat to a farming community, whose livelihood is threatened by a giant coal mine. They also include those whose livelihood is threatened by closing that mine and governments saddled with crippling national debt. They include the people working to achieve change. These people also have their own areas of focus within the overall picture. There are people designing the new solutions – technological or otherwise. There are the people who will have to operate the changed situation. There are the stewards for the natural environment and the non-human inhabitants of platform Earth.

Now Enterprise Architects are in a sense always concerned with sustainability, at least at the micro level of one organization or enterprise. We try to develop an architecture in which the whole enterprise (and all its parts) can achieve its goals – with a minimum of instability and with the ability to respond effectively to change. That in and of itself requires us to be aware of what’s going on in the world outside our organization’s direct sphere of influence, so it’s a small step to looking at a broader picture and wondering what the future of the enterprise might be in a non-sustainable world.

The next step is an obvious one for any Enterprise Architect – well actually any architect at all in any kind of enterprise. This isn’t a political or moral question (although architects have as much right as anyone to else to such considerations) but really just one of drawing conclusions, which are logical and obvious – unless one is merely driven by short-term considerations. What you do with those conclusions is up to you and constrained by your own situation. You do what you can. You can take the campaigning viewpoint or look for collateral lack of damage or just facilitate sustainability when it’s on the agenda – look for opportunities for re-use or repair. And if your situation is one where nothing is possible, you might want to be thinking about moving on.

Sustainability is not conservatism. Some things reach the end of their useful life or can’t survive unexpected and/or dramatic changes. Some things actually improve as a result of taking a serious knock – what Nicholas Nassim Taleb calls anti-fragility. That’s true in nature at both micro and macro levels and it’s particularly true in nature. It’s not surprising that the ideas of biomimicry are rapidly gaining traction in sustainability circles.

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In this sense, agile is really about sustainability. When we work with agile methods, we’re not trying to create something changeless. We’re trying to create a way of working in which our enterprise or some small part of it, can change and adapt so as to continue to fulfill its mission for so long as that remains relevant in the world.

So yes, there’s a lot an (enterprise) architect can do towards achieving a sustainable world and there are more than enough reasons that’s consistent with our role in the organizations and enterprises we serve.

Agreed? Not? Please comment one way or the other and let’s continue the discussion.

SONY DSCStuart Boardman is a Senior Business Consultant with KPN Consulting where he leads the Enterprise Architecture practice and consults to clients on Cloud Computing, Enterprise Mobility and The Internet of Everything. He is Co-Chair of The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™ Forum and was Co-Chair of the Cloud Computing Work Group’s Security for the Cloud and SOA project and a founding member of both The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and The Open Group SOA Work Group. Stuart is the author of publications by KPN, the Information Security Platform (PvIB) in The Netherlands and of his previous employer, CGI as well as several Open Group white papers, guides and standards. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of Open Platform 3.0 and Identity.

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Business Capabilities – Taking Your Organization into the Next Dimension

By Stuart Macgregor, Chief Executive, Real IRM Solutions

Decision-makers in large enterprises today face a number of paradoxes when it comes to implementing a business operating model and deploying Enterprise Architecture:

- How to stabilize and embed concrete systems that ensure control and predictability, but at the same time remain flexible and open to new innovations?

- How to employ new technology to improve the productivity of the enterprise and its staff in the face of continual pressures on the IT budget?

- How to ensure that Enterprise Architecture delivers tangible results today, but remains relevant in an uncertain future environment.

Answering these tough questions requires an enterprise to elevate its thinking beyond ‘business processes’ and develop a thorough understanding of its ‘business capabilities’. It demands that the enterprise optimizes and leverages these capabilities to improve every aspect of the business – from coal-face operations to blue-sky strategy.

Business capabilities articulate an organization’s inner-workings: the people, process, technology, tools, and content (information). Capabilities map the ways in which each component interfaces with each other, developing an intricate line-drawing of the entire organizational ecosystem at a technical and social level.  By understanding one’s current business capabilities, an organization is armed with a strategic planning tool. We refer to what is known as the BIDAT framework – which addresses the business, information, data, applications and technology architecture domains.

From this analysis, the journey to addressing the organization’s Enterprise Architecture estate begins. This culminates in the organization being able to dynamically optimize, add and improve on its capabilities as the external environment shifts and evolves. A BIDAT approach provides a permanent bridge between the two islands of business architecture and technology architecture.

Put another way, business capability management utilizes the right architectural solutions to deliver the business strategy. In this way, Enterprise Architecture is inextricably linked to capability management. It is the integrated architecture (combined with effective organizational change leadership) that develops the business capabilities and unleashes their power.

This can at times feel very conceptual and hard to apply to real-world environments. Perhaps the best recent example of tangible widespread implementations of a capability-based Enterprise Architecture approach is in South Africa’s minerals and mining sector.

Known as the Exploration and Mining Business Capability Reference Map, and published as part of a set of standards, this framework was developed by The Open Group Exploration, Mining, Metals and Minerals (EMMM™) Forum.  Focusing on all levels of mining operations, from strategic planning, portfolio planning, program enablement and project enablement – and based on the principles of open standards – this framework provides miners with a capability-based approach to information, processes, technology, and people.

The Reference Map isolates specific capabilities within mining organizations, analyzes them from multiple dimensions, and shows their various relationships to other parts of the organization. In the context of increased automation in the mining sector, this becomes an invaluable tool in determining those functions that are ripe for automation.

In this new dimension, this new era of business, there is no reason why achievements from the EMMM’s Business Capability Reference Map cannot be repeated in every industry, and in every mid- to large-scale enterprise throughout the globe.

For more information on joining The Open Group, please visit:  http://www.opengroup.org/getinvolved/becomeamember

For more information on joining The Open Group EMMM™ Forum, please visit:  http://opengroup.co.za/emmm

Photo - Stuart #2Stuart Macgregor is the Chief Executive of the South African company, Real IRM Solutions. Through his personal achievements, he has gained the reputation of an Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance specialist, both in South Africa and internationally.

Macgregor participated in the development of the Microsoft Enterprise Computing Roadmap in Seattle. He was then invited by John Zachman to Scottsdale Arizona to present a paper on using the Zachman framework to implement ERP systems. In addition, Macgregor was selected as a member of both the SAP AG Global Customer Council for Knowledge Management, and of the panel that developed COBIT 3rd Edition Management Guidelines. He has also assisted a global Life Sciences manufacturer to define their IT Governance framework, a major financial institution to define their global, regional and local IT organizational designs and strategy. He was also selected as a core member of the team that developed the South African Breweries (SABMiller) plc global IT strategy.

Stuart, as the lead researcher, assisted the IT Governance Institute map CobiT 4.0 to TOGAF® This mapping document was published by ISACA and The Open Group. More recently, he participated in the COBIT 5 development workshop held in London during May 2010.

 

 

 

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Improving Patient Care and Reducing Costs in Healthcare – Join The Open Group Tweet Jam on Wednesday, April 23

By Jason Lee, Director of Healthcare and Security Forums, The Open Group

On Wednesday, April 23 at 9:00 am PT/12:00 pm ET/5:00 pm GMT, The Open Group Healthcare Forum will host a tweet jam to discuss the issues around healthcare and improving patient care while reducing costs. Many healthcare payer and provider organizations today are facing numerous “must do” priorities, including EHR implementation, transitioning to ICD-10, and meeting enhanced HIPAA security requirements.

This tweet jam will focus on opportunities that healthcare organizations have available to improve patient care and reduce costs associated with capturing, maintaining, and sharing patient information. It will also explore how using Enterprise Architectural approaches that have proven effective in other industries will apply to the healthcare sector and dramatically improve both costs and patient care.

In addition to the need for implementing integrated digital health records that can be shared across health organizations to maximize care for both patients who don’t want to repeat themselves and the doctors providing their care, we’ll explore what other solutions exist to enhance information flow. For example, did you know that a new social network for M.D.s has even emerged to connect and communicate across teams, hospitals and entire health systems? The new network, called Doximity, boasts that 40 percent of U.S. doctors have signed on. Not only are doctors using social media, they’re using software specifically designed for the iPad that roughly 68 percent of doctors are carrying around. One hospital even calculated its return on investment of utilizing a an iPad in just nine days!

We’ll be talking about how many healthcare thought leaders are looking at technology and its influence on online collaboration, patient telemonitoring and information flow.

We welcome The Open Group members and interested participants from all backgrounds to join the discussion and interact with our panel of thought-leaders including Jim Hietala, Vice President of Security; David Lounsbury, CTO; and Dr. Chris Harding, Forum Director of Open Platform 3.0™ Forum. To access the discussion, please follow the hashtag #ogchat during the allotted discussion time.

Interested in joining The Open Group Healthcare Forum? Register your interest, here.

What Is a Tweet Jam?

The Open Group tweet jam, approximately 45 minutes in length, is a “discussion” hosted on Twitter. The purpose of the tweet jam is to share knowledge and answer questions on relevant and thought-provoking issues. Each tweet jam is led by a moderator and a dedicated group of experts to keep the discussion flowing. The public (or anyone using Twitter interested in the topic) is encouraged to join the discussion.

Participation Guidance

Whether you’re a newbie or veteran Twitter user, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Have your first #ogchat tweet be a self-introduction: name, affiliation, occupation.

Start all other tweets with the question number you’re responding to and add the #ogchat hashtag.

Sample: Q1 What barriers exist for collaboration among providers in healthcare, and what can be done to improve things? #ogchat

Please refrain from product or service promotions. The goal of a tweet jam is to encourage an exchange of knowledge and stimulate discussion.

While this is a professional get-together, we don’t have to be stiff! Informality will not be an issue.

A tweet jam is akin to a public forum, panel discussion or Town Hall meeting – let’s be focused and thoughtful.

If you have any questions prior to the event or would like to join as a participant, please contact Rob Checkal (@robcheckal or rob.checkal@hotwirepr.com). We anticipate a lively chat and hope you will be able to join!

Jason Lee headshotJason Lee, Director of Healthcare and Security Forums at The Open Group, has conducted healthcare research, policy analysis and consulting for over 20 years. He is a nationally recognized expert in healthcare organization, finance and delivery and applies his expertise to a wide range of issues, including healthcare quality, value-based healthcare, and patient-centered outcomes research. Jason worked for the legislative branch of the U.S. Congress from 1990-2000 — first at GAO, then at CRS, then as Health Policy Counsel for the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (in which role the National Journal named him a “Top Congressional Aide” and he was profiled in the Almanac of the Unelected). Subsequently, Jason held roles of increasing responsibility with non-profit organizations — including AcademyHealth, NORC, NIHCM, and NEHI. Jason has published quantitative and qualitative findings in Health Affairs and other journals and his work has been quoted in Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal and a host of trade publications. He is a Fellow of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, was an adjunct faculty member at the George Washington University, and has served on several boards. Jason earned a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan and completed two postdoctoral programs (supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health). He is the proud father of twins and lives outside of Boston.

 

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What the C-Suite Needs to Prepare for in the Era of BYO Technology

By Allen Brown, President and CEO, The Open Group

IT today is increasingly being driven by end-users. This phenomenon, known as the “consumerization of IT,” is a result of how pervasive technology has become in daily life. Years ago, IT was the primarily the realm of technologists and engineers. Most people, whether in business settings or at home, did not have the technical know-how to source their own applications, write code for a web page or even set up their own workstation.

Today’s technologies are more user-friendly than ever and they’ve become ubiquitous. The introduction of smartphones and tablets has ushered in the era of “BYO” with consumers now bringing the technologies they like and are most comfortable working with into the workplace, all with the expectation that IT will support them. The days where IT decided what technologies would be used within an organization are no more.

At the same time, IT has lost another level of influence due to Cloud computing and Big Data. Again, the “consumers” of IT within the enterprise—line of business managers, developers, marketers, etc.—are driving these changes. Just as users want the agility offered by the devices they know and love, they also want to be able to buy and use the technologies they need to do their job and do it on the fly rather than wait for an IT department to go through a months’ (or years’) long process of requisitions and approvals. And it’s not just developers or IT staff that are sourcing their own applications—marketers are buying applications with their credit cards, and desktop users are sharing documents and spreadsheets via web-based office solutions.

When you can easily buy the processing capacity you need when you need it with your credit card or use applications online for free, why wait for approval?

The convergence of this next era of computing – we call it Open Platform 3.0™ – is creating a Balkanization of the traditional IT department. IT is no longer the control center for technology resources. As we’ve been witnessing over the past few years and as industry pundits have been prognosticating, IT is changing to become more of a service-based command central than a control center from which IT decisions are made.

These changes are happening within enterprises everywhere. The tides of change being brought about by Open Platform 3.0 cannot be held back. As I mentioned in my recent blog on Future Shock and the need for agile organizations, adaptation will be key for companies’ survival as constant change and immediacy become the “new normal” for how they operate.

These changes will, in fact, be positive for most organizations. As technologies converge and users drive the breakdown of traditional departmental silos and stovepipes, organizations will become more interoperable. More than ever, new computing models are driving the industry toward The Open Group’s vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™ within organizations. But the changes resulting from consumer-led IT are not just the problem of the IT department. They are on track to usher in a whole host of organizational changes that all executives must not only be aware of, but must also prepare and plan for.

One of the core of issues around consumerized IT that must be considered is the control of resources. Resource planning in terms of enabling business processes through technology must now be the concern of every person within the C-Suite from the CEO to the CIO and even the CMO.

Take, for example, the financial controls that must be considered in a BYO world. This issue, in particular, hits two very distinct centers of operations most closely—the offices of both the CIO and the CFO.

In the traditional IT paradigm, technology has been a cost center for most businesses with CFOs usually having the final say in what technologies can be bought and used based on budget. There have been very specific controls placed on purchases, each leaving an audit trail that the finance department could easily track and handle. With the Open Platform 3.0 paradigm, those controls go straight out the window. When someone in marketing buys and uses an application on their own without the CIO approving its use or the CFO having an paper trail for the purchase, accounting and financial or technology auditing can become a potential corporate nightmare.

Alternatively, when users share information over the Web using online documents, the CIO, CTO or CSO may have no idea what information is going in and out of the organization or how secure it is. But sharing information through web-based documents—or a CRM system—might be the best way for the CMO to work with vendors or customers or keep track of them. The CMO may also need to begin tracking IT purchases within their own department.

The audit trail that must be considered in this new computing era can extend in many directions. IT may need an accounting of technical and personal assets. Legal may need information for e-Discovery purposes—how does one account for information stored on tablets or smartphones brought from home or work-related emails from sent from personal accounts? The CSO may require risk assessments to be performed on all devices or may need to determine how far an organization’s “perimeter” extends for security purposes. The trail is potentially as large as the organization itself and its entire extended network of employees, vendors, customers, etc.

What can organizations do to help mitigate the potential chaos of a consumer-led IT revolution?

Adapt. Be flexible and nimble. Plan ahead. Strategize. Start talking about what these changes will mean for your organization—and do it sooner rather than later. Work together. Help create standards that can help organizations maintain flexible but open parameters (and perimeters) for sourcing and sharing resources.

Executive teams, in particular, will need to know more about the functions of other departments than ever before. IT departments—including CTOs and EAs—will need to know more about other business functions—such as finance—if they are to become IT service centers. CFOs will need to know more about technology, security, marketing and strategic planning. CMOs and CIOs will need to understand regulatory guidelines not only around securing information but around risk and data privacy.

Putting enterprise and business architectures and industry standards in place can go a long way toward helping to create structures that maintain a healthy balance between providing the flexibility needed for Open Platform 3.0 and BYO while allowing enough organizational control to prevent chaos. With open architectures and standards, organizations will better be able to decide where controls are needed and when and how information should be shared among departments. Interoperability and Boundaryless Information Flow—where and when they’re needed—will be key components of these architectures.

The convergence being brought about Open Platform 3.0 is not just about technology. It’s about the convergence of many things—IT, people, operations, processes, information. It will require significant cultural changes for most organizations and within different departments and organizational functions that are not used to sharing, processing and analyzing information beyond the silos that have been built up around them.

In this new computing model, Enterprise Architectures, interoperability and standards can and must play a central role in guiding the C-Suite through this time of rapid change so that users have the tools they need to be able to innovate, executives have the information they need to steer the proverbial ship and organizations don’t get left behind.

brown-smallAllen Brown is the President and CEO of The Open GroupFor more than ten years, he has been responsible for driving the organization’s strategic plan and day-to-day operations; he was also instrumental in the creation of the Association of Enterprise Architects (AEA). Allen is based in the U.K.

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