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Bitcoin Blockchain Business Business Strategy Cardano Cryptocurrencies Ethereum How to Polkadot Strategy Technology Technology Strategy Web 3.0

How to grasp the blockchain world and safely walk your first steps into Web 3.0

The following is a quick guide explaining how to become acquainted with the world of blockchain, crypto, and web 3.0:

  1. First, I invite you to start with these videos:
    1. What is a Blockchain: https://youtu.be/rYQgy8QDEBI
    2. The difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains: https://youtu.be/0UBk1e5qnr4
    3. What is a Smart Contract: https://youtu.be/ZE2HxTmxfrI
    4. What is a Stablecoin: https://youtu.be/pGzfexGmuVw
    5. What is an NFT: https://youtu.be/FkUn86bH34M
  2. Understand the key concepts of web 3.0 by googling them: Blockchain, Wallet, Cryptocurrency, (crypto) token, Mining, PKI, tokens, Smart Contracts, Dapps, Decentralized Exchanges (DEX), Staking, ICO, ITO, Layer 1/2/3 protocols, transaction fees, consensus, etc.
  3. Know what are the major Web 3.0 technologies, their differences, and their value propositions like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polkadot, Cardano, Cosmos, Polygon, Hyperledger, IPFS, Storj, Solana, Tether, etc. Not only the network but also the development tooling and the distribution means.
  4. Understand what new business models, organization models, like DAO, and features the Web 3.0 is bringing with respect to Web 2.0. Then research how Web 2.0 and 3.0 complement each other.
  5. Select one Blockchain technology and stick to it, in the beginning, to understand how Dapps are being built, distributed, and promoted in the ecosystem. Some of the most popular depending on your areas of interest: Uniswap (DeFi), OpenSea (Digital Art, NFT), Axie Infinity (Gaming), …
  6. Understand token economics and how it is possible to have such a huge valuation and market capitalization.
  7. Learn by doing!
    • Learn to use blockchain tools like Etherscan and Bitcoin Explorer, to see all Ethereum Blockchain transactions. And now is the time to look up your own wallet!
    • Then, you could fund your wallet using the most popular and safest Crypto Trade Exchanges like Kraken, Coindesk, or Crypto.com.
      Notice that you can buy cryptocurrencies with Paypal, but you currently cannot transfer them to your own wallet. Paypal is holding bitcoin for you.
  8. Follow the various companies and foundations expanding the web 3.0 (tech websites, Twitter) to grasp how the ecosystem is expanding. Then, ask yourself how these companies are regulated.
  9. Interact on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit with knowledgeable people and enthusiasts.
  10. If you are an IT engineer, start programming with Solidity. I find the Truffle Suite genuinely good to build Smart Contracts and NFTs in an easy way.
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Business Business Strategy Data Data Architecture Information Technology Legal Technology Strategy

The European Data Act: actually, can your data become a reliable source of income?

The European Data Act has recently been published.

It aims at clarifying and strengthening the governing framework of the #dataeconomy.

In the nutshell (extract):

“The Data Act will give both individuals and businesses more control over their data through a reinforced data portability right, copying or transferring data easily from across different services, where the data are generated through smart objects, machines, and devices.”

For example, a car or machinery owner could choose to share data generated by their use with its insurance company.

Such data, aggregated from multiple users, could also help to develop or improve other digital services, e.g. regarding traffic, or areas at high risk of accidents.”

Some thoughts on this

1️⃣ I wonder to what extent the boundaries of your data ownership can be explicitly defined, then transparently coded in IT systems, so that a “data asset” is legally bound to you as your property.

2️⃣ After this, you could ask Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to share a piece of the cake: % of the revenue generated from your data.
Let’s face it, it looks like a game-changer, if it can really be implemented.

3️⃣ Ultimately, you can capitalize on GPDR architecture. It pushes the concepts of data ownership, consent management, data counters, data KPI, data censorship management, IAM, data expiry management, etc.

4️⃣ Beyond multicloud oversight solutions, this is an excellent use case for permissioned blockchain, like Hyperledger Fabric. (e.g. Infrachain )

5️⃣ Innovative business models to arise like “Mutual Data Funds”, or Open Data Lakes”, where a set of businesses or individuals would provide a set of qualified and certified data sources to act as “Value Added Data Sources”, something similar to Bloomberg or Reuters for financial News.

Also, these Mutual Data Pools are fitted to be plugged as Oracles in blockchains (#ethereum#chainlink#binance, etc.)

I can already envision the pitch of startups like “We are the Bloomberg of space mining Data” (which would be awesome by the way👍)

6️⃣ This could boost the API economy. But also push further the adoption of GraphQL and AsyncAPI standards.

7️⃣ I reckon open industry data models are a much better way to start. It would help regulators (e.g. Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) , CNPD – Commission nationale pour la protection des données , CNIL – Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés), auditors and regtech (e.g. Scorechain ) to have a common ground to build their control frameworks and oversight infrastructure.
Now, it is time to stitch them together.

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Architecture Business Data Architecture Enterprise Architecture Information Technology IT Architecture Organization Architecture Technology UI Architecture

“Leading you to the best decisions” - A story about the unimaginable benefits of Architecture in Businesses

Green arrows that illustrate the theme "Leading you to the best decisions"

I am amazed by the sparkling eyes of someone discovering what he or she can achieve with Enterprise Architecture and IT Architecture. 

This wonderful effect usually starts with a casual conversation, like one of those happening when you meet someone for the first time at an event exposing the disruptive changes in your industries.

I had that conversation the other day.

Coming out of the main conference room, I was thirsty, so I walked in the direction of the bar. New beverages? Of course, count me in. The drink is unusually green. Same colors as one of those “Diabolo-Menthe” I had in my childhood in Paris. But this glass is foggy. While I am looking at the recipient trying to guess what that magic potion is made of, the bartender is observing me. During this moment of hesitation, he said: “It’s coming from Japan. You are going to like it”. Despite his confidence, he did not convince me. How could he know my tastes anyway? Nevertheless, I drank the mysterious beverage, and, oh boy, he was right. The — whatever the name — was delicious.

Someone next to me was trying a foggy red elixir. When she caught the surprise on my face, she engaged in the conversation.

I answered politely, and introduce myself.

“Nice to meet you. My name is Yannick. Chief Architect at ING”. I shake her hand and I follow up with: “We are experiencing interesting changes, indeed. For the better, I believe.”

“Ah, so you are in real estate construction? Very nice! the industry is flourishing, you must be a happy man!”

“I’m in construction indeed. However, I build businesses, not buildings.”
 
She pauses for a few seconds. “What do you mean? Are you not managing your own architecture firm?”

“Not a firm, but an Enterprise Architecture department in one of the largest financial technology groups on earth. Still, it feels the same as running your own business. The expertise of my team consists of methodically designing and planning the development of products, services, or even the entire lines of business, in the most optimal and sustainable way possible. Whatever we provide fits the customer’s needs, and is made according to its finance, timing, opportunities, technologies, regulatory scope, etc. We consider all aspects. Basically, no matter the complexity, we have a solution for you.”

“Ah, interesting! I didn’t know such a job even existed. And by “all aspects”, you mean…?” 

“Let’s say you’ve come up with a brilliant idea to differentiate yourself by proposing a new product line or rethinking your services. Using an Architecture construction method for businesses, I will first guide you in defining and detailing your requirements and the goals you want to achieve. Quite often, what you think you want is not what you need.

Second, I’ll ask you questions to discover requirements, including some you have not thought about in the first place, and some you wouldn’t believe it is important to care about them.

Third, we will list your constraints and spot the legal framework you must comply with. Moreover, I’ll check with you what you expect as an outcome given your budget and resources. The purpose is to demystify beliefs from the start, then, I will share with you what it takes to get what you want. Indeed, this practice is similar to the building industry, there are rules you have to follow, like environmental guidelines, materials used, construction permits, etc.” 
 
“Ok, I’m starting to get it now. Tell me more.” 
 
“Sure. 
After having completed the aforementioned activities, the Architect does the first design. It is a sketch of the solution to meet your expectations. The purpose is to assess the impacts, but also to make the product more visual and tangible. It is followed by some research to identify the components that can match your needs, in the best ways possible. I said “ways”, with an S, because what matters are the choices YOU make along the way. It all comes down to giving you alternatives to preserve your freedom of choice. 

Ultimately, the architect will lead you to the best decisions

In this design phase, they are several workshops, discussions, negotiations, and information sessions held to detail the master solution design and to thin out financial analysis. 

From this point, we will initiate together a dossier, based on the agreements and scope of work. This mutual understanding acts as a contract. 

The first phase starts with an order for which the result will be an iterative analysis of your requirements, an architecture blueprint, a construction planning, a quote, from which any partnership with product development companies can manufacture your product and services.”

“This looks like a very fun job, very complex, and demanding. Can you be knowledgeable in all these domains? “

“It depends” — This is the architects’ favorite quote.

“The architect is an expert in, at least, two domains: a business domain and a technological domain. They are PI-shaped. For example, I started my career as a Development Engineer, and evolved as an expert in Information Systems Integration, with a Business specialization in Financial Services and Insurances. 

Additionally, they must know the purpose and the mechanisms of other domains and how they fit together. They grow a System Thinking. For example, a company has a Marketing department, a Finance Department, an IT department, a Sales department, etc. Each of them has a specific reason to exist, and they are made up of a plethora of activities that are fundamental elements of the corporate machine. Before selling, the Marketing intent is to present, demonstrate, attract the customer but also to analyze the potential client while continuing to engage the existing customers. To sell better, IT digitize the sales catalog and specs of the products, while having the CRM available on a mobile app, so that Sales can connect with the prospect anywhere and anytime. 

I could go on, but the point is an architect considers each of these domains, each user interaction, each process, each application, each technology, each data, each skill as a building block that needs to be assembled to meet your needs and comply with the agreed requirements.

It is like getting several boxes of Lego, figuring out what the blocks are relevant, and detailing the instructions to achieve the construction. Therefore, there is no need to be an expert in multiple domains, but you need to appreciate their purpose and understand how an industry works to be relevant to your customers. In practice, we reach experts when needed.” 
 
Humm. It sounds simple to understand yet complex in the execution.” 
 
“You are correct.”

“But how come I didn’t hear about Architects for businesses before? Thinking about it, your job seems necessary from the moment an enterprise reaches a certain size.”

“Perhaps you did, there are more architects than you think. For various historical reasons, Architecture is associated with the Information Technology department. Hence most of the time, people in companies consider us like IT folks doing IT stuff, whereas what we deliver are business and technology strategy, business and engineering analysis, business and engineering design, business and engineering planning, and business and engineering innovations. 

Almost every change and improvement in your value chains need software and hardware. So it does not surprise me, our core skill is engineering. We thrive in manufacturing predictability and precision. 

Nevertheless, I understand totally why people categorize architects exclusively in a technical domain if they are continuously presenting themselves using a single part of their expertise. Sometimes it is comfortable !” 
 
“Maybe. Now that you mention. In general, we discuss with our IT specialists whenever we need to change, create new features, or fix things. We trust them, but sometimes it feels like they over-complexify things.” 

We both joyfully laugh.

“I was just sharing my feeling here. I am nowhere near capable of assessing if they could do faster or better. We know they do their best. Yet, we wish we would have more flexible and more modern IT systems, more automated stuff, and good-looking user interfaces. Well, at least they do work!”
 
“Trust me, this is what matters the most. I have a very simple Architecture motto:

1st it needs to work great all the time,
2nd it must be easy to use, remember, teach, and maintain
3rd it should look awesome.” 

“Amen to that. It makes me wonder, though… If Business and IT people can build things already, why would I need an architect?” 

“Good question. To answer you, I’m going to start with: I prefer you to not need me.” 

“I wasn’t expecting this. I’m confused… And curious!”
 
“I know. Why would you need a civil architect to fix your light bulb, change your kitchen sink, or even change the facade of your building? No, you don’t need one for the activities. You call the electrician, plumber or you do it yourself. You need specialized builders or repair persons. And autonomy is the best for everyone. But if you’re looking for building a new house, extend your house with a new room, or change the location of your bathroom, you might want to call your architect. You can, eventually, do it without one. Though, it is your decision of running the risk to spend more money than expected, to have the construction take more time than expected, to receive something that may not meet your expectations or worse.
The decision is entirely yours.”

“I get your point. So when and where should I get an architect? Do I need a Bat-symbol?”

“For most small changes, you don’t need an architect. Rule of thumb, If the structure does not change, the scale of impact and volume stay similar, you don’t touch your foundation, and you don’t bring any new substantial data or business functions, ask your engineers, or senior business analyst to make the change. But at some point, your companies get big enough that people start losing sight, control, and understanding of how everything comes together. The systems of an enterprise are simply too complex to be dealt with by people busy with specific tasks daily. Furthermore, it is neither their core knowledge nor their core activities. And as if it wasn’t enough, the pace of technological disruptions keeps increasing.

As a rule of thumb, you need an architect when you: 

  • Want something custom 
  • Are dealing with complex programs of work
  • Don’t know where to start 
  • Need to acquire or leverage a piece of technology 
  • Seek guidance to build enterprise functions that are sustainable and scalable 
  • Require to plan an actionable strategy with a good level of accuracy 

Either you want something that everybody can get or you want something custom.”

“Are there different kinds of architects? I mean, we have different kinds of builders like plumbers, carpenters, electricians, etc.”

“Architects are … architects. There are flavors of architects. Let’s say they have specialties. Some of them are experts in the infrastructures, some in the data, others in software, while some focus their expertise on a specific industry. The only thing that matters, from a customer point of view, is that they provide the same service and they work together. 

They have the same fundamental knowledge and way of operating. Architects might differ in their technique though. with the practice of various Architecture methods such as Zachman, TOGAF. Some companies build their own because it fits better with their industry and their organization such as EAgile for ING. Some are more specialized, like my AMASE methodology for startups and innovative organizations.
I could tell you more but I’ll save this for another time.”

“I thank you for these explanations and for your time. To be frank, this is an eye-opener. I need to talk with my executive co-workers.”

“My pleasure, Ms. X. One more thing. Do you know what the origin of the word “Architect” is?”

She looks above like she was looking at the answer deep in her memory. Then a second later, the spark. She said, with the scintillating eyes

“Master Builder!”.


Photo by Frank Busch