The Internet of Things (IoT) provides an excellent opportunity for businesses. The two way channel that connected devices open up between the consumer and business offer unprecedented levels of insight into customer needs wants and habits.
It’s not surprising then, that IoT has taken off. As more and more businesses from varying sectors begin to adopt IoT, it’s becoming clear that we’re in the midst of a quiet (but rapid) technology revolution.
The current trends indicate that at some point, most if not all businesses will have to adopt IoT, at least to some degree. However, adoptions such as these can often be disruptive, and so are not without risk. The key to managing any sort of risk is strategy, and in this case, an Enterprise Architecture strategy.
At least Mike Walker believes as much. The Research Director at leading analytic firm, Gartner, argues that IoT opportunities for a business are also opportunities for Enterprise Architects to establish themselves as a focal point of an organization.
“Enterprise architects have a great opportunity to position themselves at the heart of digital businesses,” he said. “This could take the form of establishing a business competency center that explores how the IoT can create innovative breakthroughs for the organization’s business models, products and services through rapid experimentation.”
Enterprise Architecture is employed to help lead a business towards a strategic outcome. Businesses should not only want to navigate through times of disruption, but capitalize on them too.
If you’re familiar with HBO’s hit TV show, Game of Thrones (or the book series that inspired it) you’ll enjoy this metaphor. If not, stick with us. It’ll only take a minute. In an empowering speech, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish addresses his ascent from relative rags, to riches. He claims chaos is the driver behind his success.
“Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, they cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”
Gods and realms aside, a lot of what Petyr said is relevant here. Petyr sees chaos as an opportunity. He acknowledges that people before him have tried to take advantage of this, and that not everyone is successful. However, Littlefinger is Game of Throne’s contentious figurehead for savvy, and it is this – his savvy, his intelligence – that steadies him during his climb.
Our chaos ladder, is disruption. And the savvy steadying us as we climb are our Enterprise Architects. As an organization, we don’t just want to navigate through disruption, we want to capitalize on it, and emerge in a better position than we were in before. This is at the core of modern Enterprise Architecture.
There’s arguably not much more disruptive to businesses at the moment, than adopting an IoT strategy where there hasn’t been one before. Therefore, it’s abundantly clear that businesses new to the concept need a solid Enterprise Architecture platform to back it up.
These adopters will be faced with incoming valuable data at a rate that they most likely haven’t seen before, and so the infrastructure to deal with it must be planned out and implemented.
Much of the preparation and planning behind initially implementing an IoT strategy can be said to be the responsibility of “Foundational” Enterprise Architects. The EAs that are typically tasked with legacy EA assignments. Maintaining systems, support, the tasks we colloquially refer to as “keeping the lights on”.
However, IoT isn’t just something that can be implemented and left alone. That new influx of data, is pointless if it’s not acted on purpose.
This is where Vanguard EAs come in. Vanguard EAs represent the evolution of IT. They show how the role of IT staff has evolved in tandem with IT’s refocusing as the spearhead of most business. Unlike the Foundational EA, the Vanguard’s role is less about “keeping on the lights” and more about finding new ways to light things up.
The Vanguard EA is an innovator. An agile responder to change and early exploiter of opportunity. It’s the Vanguard EA that will be at the heart of the business, as touched on by Mike Walker earlier in the post. Vanguard EAs will be able to innovate based on the trends and habits revealed in the new influx of data, and therefore, be a catalyst of growth for the business going forward.