Categories
Blockchain Business In 2060 Information Technology Society Technology Text-to-Speech

Cloud Computing in 2060

I was busy with professor Gytek when a high-priority notification arrived, so I ask my AI family assistant for a voice reading.

“Good morning Yannick, you’ve spent 1704 CU this semester. The consumption is unusually high by 27% compared to the previous period.”.

I guess it is because my grandchildren are living with us since ‘that’ incident. And my work with professor Gytek is certainly for something. Sometimes I feel I turned like my old folks, thinking my civilian bills is a high priority!

It feels like ages ago when, in 2034, Europe voted for the General Digital Access Regulation or GDAR. The GDAR has invited country members to the standardization of digital facility services for all European citizens. The implications were multiple with some bonuses. It became mandatory to provide access to the Internet to residents. Therefore, at least a device was to be given for truly digital equality and sustainable civilization development. Hence all citizens could study, work, buy, and vote online free of “access fees”.

Today, each and everyone is connected, could it be brain-wired, phygital reality glasses, in-bone sensorial devices, you name it. Not that it is necessary, holographic coating comes by default now. Wall paints, object textures, and glasses contain diamond-shaped optical picobots that give the illusion of depth without wearing anything. Actually, holographic surrealism is the latest design trend! Consequently, it has created an outstanding dependency on Decentralized Cloud Computing and Centralized Cloud Computing Networks.

The first sign of significant transformation was post-COVID-19, which revealed the need for remote work.

The intense need started really in 2032 when governments realized they could not be relying only upon Google, Amazon, and Microsoft for the future of digital expansion. The main reason is that GDAR states the following foundation principle:

Article 3.
Pursuant to legal principles of ownership and privacy, it is hereby declared that all data, computing resources, and services shall be considered the personal property of the individual to whom they belong. Any access to or utilization of said property by any third party must be fully authorized by the owner and must be recorded in the EU Secure Non-Repudiable Ledger for the purposes of personal auditing and consumer accountability. Any unauthorized access or use of such property shall be deemed a violation of the owner’s rights, and may subject the offending party to legal action.

The negotiation with US and Chinese companies demonstrated the frail adherence to these requirements. Sometimes there were even reluctant to do so, which, considering the balance of the tripolar world order, was already quite an achievement. In parallel, to ensure national intelligence security, and intellectual property preservation, the only option left was to rely on a European Cloud.

This is when GAIA-X also became a so-called superunicorn company, switching from a federated cloud project to a single organization of a new kind: a European company, managed like a private company, with an obligation of result, but publicly owned by all state members, and, that’s a first, explicitly owned by the people. As a result, GAIA-X became ATHENA, and Octave Klaba, the founder of OVH Cloud, its CEO. What made it truly unique was the redistribution of benefits to the population; Indirectly, of course, but still, the business model was innovative, sustainable, and fair to citizens. The only thing you need to get started is your wallet!

During the same period, a new kind of Trade Exchange has been created: the EU Sovereign Trade Exchange, where only state citizens could buy and sell ATHENA’s shares and Computing Units tokens (CU). The latter serves as the foundation for receiving your free volume of TPU to satisfy your basic need as an individual and to extend the growth of enterprises based on how citizen wishes to invest in their business expansion.

The real benefit and the paradigm shift, at least for me, was computing becoming a utility resource like electricity and water. It changed everything:

First, Cloud Providers became producers of CUs. Considering international diplomacy with New Americas, BRICS, and the Great African Union, the leading cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Service, Google Cloud Platform, Netflix Entertainment Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, Africa Data Centres, and DFnity were considered first-class cloud producers in the European Union.

Secondly, individuals can be CU providers when they have devices and servers producing more computing units than they consume. Nowadays, Cloudfluencers are the real deal!

Thirdly, all dwellings, devices appliances, were by default connected to your dHome Network, which is your dedicated network for privacy compliance. In 2034, the first GDAR amendment was issued in Luxembourg, where it forced all new construction and existing construction to incorporate a pluggable dHome network. Thus, the civil architecture standards and IT digital standards were upgraded and propagated throughout Europe. As a consequence, private-to-public Internet gateways were included in all housing plans by design.

Fourthly, connection to the Internet is also included. The network is software-generated and the adaptive routing is part of the civil infrastructure coming by Satellite’s PolyLight technology (which is the advanced distribution network using directed polyphasic beams of light, and each “column building” is a piece of architectural art), distributed electric grid network, where each device and vehicle act as a distribution node, or air using the old school 10G network used by the purists and the developers. Underground internet distribution is forbidden nowadays. You only had to select your Cloud Computing Providers for additional services, like on-demand Entertainment Services, the same way you used to subscribe to Netflix!

Finally, you had a single billing system where your utility invoices were sent directly to your EU Citizen One Stop Shop portal, the dHome, while payments were performed automatically (see Banking in 2060)

The security of ATHENA’s distributed network was the best.

The Core Network, BREW, was virtually inaccessible. The reason was simple, it was located in space. Its data center was a giant polyhedron, entirely built by machine. It is not that, nowadays, we do not trust humans, it is just that people trust the public and the unbias aspect of machine-generated code.

The most impressive was the servicing of qCPU. Each of them is unique, embedding in its core a set of private metamorphic keys only known and bound to the citizen. Then, the qCPU is printed on demand inside BREW autonomous factory. Furthermore, the qCPU is destroyed, recycled, then replaced periodically to ensure maximum security. Finally, human interventions, if any, are performed remotely, from ATHENA Earth Control Center, using a repair drone, which was shipped from the daily Falcon Cargo Shuttle.

“Where was I again… Ah, yes. Professor Gytek, we need to work out what is happening to you. This cannot happen again…”


Categories
AR/VR Automation Blockchain In 2060 Information Technology Society Technology

Banking in 2060

It is 16h47, the 4th of June 2060.

I am sitting in my garden watching my granddaughter, Aleïs. She is playing with one of her advanced robotic toys, a Tyranausore Rex, and a ghost diplodocus. Yes, an invisible diplodocus. At least, this is what it looks like with my naked eyes. She is seeing more things despite she wears corrective glasses. In reality, she is playing with another digital dinosaur that only exists in the digital world. Glasses come with augmented reality by default, even for kids now. I remember when Apple launched them for the first time for the mainstream. I was just before the 5th digital revolution came, the age of the Phygital Internet

First, it was a gadget, it became rapidly a social advantage, to conclude as a social divide. It became indispensable when Apple partnered with major Glassmakers. Wearing glasses was no longer a sign of disability but a sign of “Augmentation”.

Suddenly Alëis sees virtual options popping atop The T-Rex. Some of them are locked and can only be obtained as “in-thing” payment. This kind of payment is sneaky but convenient, but sneaky! Of course, she wants to see the brand new flame animation coming out of her toy, and she wants to download cool dance moves like in Fortnite back in the day. She is into robotic animal engineering. She is much more skilled in information technologies than I was at her age. Like me, she is thrilled by trying and messing with new techs. I am so proud of her.

She taps on the menu to buy it. She is 14, and at this age, she cannot buy anything without the consent of one of her parents. One of the good features was family group management and sharing of financial assets and digital rights. Because I am an elder of her family, I receive her authorization to buy.

My Smartphone displays a notification. I smile because now they are holographic. And even when I am still amazed to see holograms popping out of the screen, smartphones are nowadays considered a relic from the past. Never mind, I am old anyway, I too am a relic. I should have died a long time ago. But they print organic lungs now, turning pneumonia into vintage flu. I put my finger on the notification and I approve with my face and my voice.

It reminded me of something. I say to Aleïs “There you go. You’re lucky, 15 years ago you couldn’t buy this option yourself”.

And she replied, “What do you mean, Papi Yannick?”.

“You see when I was younger, my mother had to go to the bank to open my account. I had to fill out some paper, present a printed copy of my national id card, and sign the paper with a pen. Later on, we could do it with our smartphones. Digital Onboarding was the coolest thing. We struggle to make it happen due to the strict regulations of the financial industry. Cyber fraud was high, and trust in the system was low. Eventually, the governments decided that laws had to be strictly enforced by code. You know, IT programming. Actually, this was the birth of the now famous expression “In Code We Trust”. Now everything is different. I mean normal for you but different for me. Ever since financial matters entered the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it did change a lot for the good. Now each human has a bank account the moment they land on planet earth. It is a birthright. Of course, they have to pay if they want more options, like your T-rex! If I recall correctly, Mankind agreed on changing the law after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Now look at that. You can ask permission to pay with your glasses. Then I can approve it with my relic. You get the right to spend the money from your bank account. Finally, you get a T-rex spitting flames and dancing like Justin Bieber!”

“Justin Bieber? Papi, you are soooooooooo old”

“Yeah… I know”

“But I know things that you don’t”

“Ok tell me! Tell me pleeeeaaaassseeeeee!”

“Did you know that, in fact, you are not paying directly? It is your T-Rex that sends a payment to Amazon?”

“Seriously??? How come???”

“Ok. When I was still working at the bank, we figured out that autonomous cars were always connected to the internet because they needed specific cloud resources. As you know, the management of a fleet of cars is completely reliant upon the vehicle’s intelligence and collective intelligence. To operate correctly, each car needs to dynamically allocate computing power. I mean significant computing power. Now everything is quantum computing and photonic memory, it was ridiculous compared to now. The allocation is performed by buying volumes of TPU in the Financial Stock Exchanges. Funny story though, this is how Nvidia came to dominate by far the NASDAQ.

Besides, these cars were expensive to make. Thus, they needed to come with insurance from a third-party company. So what we decided at the bank is to create a bank account for Things. Nowadays, we generalized this concept to almost all objects. Fridges, washing machines, carrybots, you named it. So, in your case, the T-rex you received on your birthday has:

  • a bank account
  • a 10 years insurance bound to it
  • a return policy that mummy and daddy can use if they want, and the list of features unlocked

There is also a piece of information that says “this T-rex belongs to Aleïs Huchard”. Thus even if you lose it, someone can bring it to the nearest Post office and a delivery drone will bring it back to you. Isn’t that great?”

“How does the bank knows that it is mine?”

“Actually the bank does not know. The bank information system request the Worldwide Identity Service — a blockchain so to speak — to verify that this object is yours and it is safe to send a payment to Amazon. And since the monthly spending limit on your toy that your parent has set is not reached, you can buy your options. I mean the T-rex can pay for its hot upgrade, ah ah ah!”

We are both laughing loud together.

I continue with “ What do you want for your upcoming birthday? I was thinking about a trip or something”.

“Yes, I’d like to go to Senegal. You find the best Agrotech schools there.”

“You’re already thinking about university? Geez, you’re growing so fast.”

“Indeed. According to my personal finance advisor, we all have to save €20 per month on our “special event group account”. Annnnnd, this is me supposing I’ll receive €50 from you, Granny, Mummy, Daddy, and auntie Azea at my birthday!”.

“Yeah, sure you can count on that…. When did you become so good at finance?”

“I simply asked my personal financial advisor.”

“Can you show me?”

“Sure, here it is”. She looked at me with her glasses and made a swipe gesture in the air like I used to do on my NotSoSmartphone.

A hologram pops up. I was expecting a dude in suit-and-tie, like… a banker. How cliché. Instead, it was an oldish robot covered with rust. And says “How may I help you, Yannick”.

“Show me your list of features, please?”

“Sure, here it is”

A mind map of all features floats in the air. Then I say “I get it, this is an upgraded version of mine. I guess I should ask questions more often to my own personal advisor to train it with my needs. Or even better, I am going to ask your personal finance advisor to train mine. Although mine looks much more friendly. Why this robotic face, Aleïs? It looks like a half-baked Optimus Prime!”

“Don’t you like this skin, Papi? If you don’t like it, just change it. You can replace skins and voices. Check the marketplace.”

“Hmm… Open the marketplace please”

Now I am checking the marketplace. I see a lot of stuff produced by independent artists. Ever since ING came up with the “Platform Bank” idea, all Banks built their own “Financial Auchan”

See that, I can buy ad spaces on social media… Buy games on Playstation XR… Hmm… Buy tuition to the Elon Musk School of Technology… And, oh, even get me the avatar of Gary Vee for defining my attention strategy. Sweet.

Ah… Skins…

Oh, you can even buy Investment Strategies too !? “The Warren Buffet Strategy by Eleanor Neetz”… “The Silent Investor, by the Wall Street Journal”… “The Sustainable Index Strategy” is currently trending. And they even have a leaderboard now. Wow, did you know that the top performer of the month won €34023! Little one, your friends, and you should buy this strategy to fund your trip!”

And she replies “You prefer Social Network Investments to cool Skins, Papy? Your so oooooooooold!”


Categories
Business Career Information Technology IT Architecture Self development Technology

What roles exist in IT for software developers to pursue after they are tired of coding?

There are many job careers to “step up” or “side step” from IT Dev Engineer. The following introduces 14 jobs to which you can start planning your next career move.

Technology Consulting

Join an ICT consulting company to provide technology consulting. The goal is to specialize in a dedicated technology or focus your attention on a specific technology stack. You are selling your expertise, methods, and best practices.

Thus, your activities will mainly be: installation, configuration, integration, performance tuning, security hardening, and guidance. For example, ELK Stack specialist, Neo4J expert, Microsoft Azure Cloud champion, etc.

Project Manager

Your expertise will be mainly focused on planning, coordination, communication, and budget management. Your experience in IT will also help you to identify pitfalls and manage delivery and expectations. You could also be specialized in Agile Delivery and get a Scrum Master certification.

In addition, you will develop financial acumen. Keeping spending in check is an important part of project management. Decisions, such as hiring contractors, conducting RFP, and cloud service consumption optimization, have an impact on the overall project investment.

Business Analyst

You will focus on your functional expertise in the frame of an industry vertical, such as Banking, Healthcare, or Food services, to provide an in-depth analysis of functional and non-functional requirements.

Then, leverage your IT experience to increase the feasibility of the solutions.

Your knowledge spreads over the spectrum of:

  • Contribute to project activities
  • Acquiring the voice of customers
  • Provide thought insights on product feature prioritization
  • Discover new business trends
  • Provide expert-level internal support and customer support.

Architect

You have a different flavor of architect roles here. To name a few, Software Architects, Infrastructure Architects, or Solution architects will move into the realm of architectural design and increase the scope of your actions and the weight of your decisions.

The end goal is to continuously deliver high-level plans and detailed plans that have been worked out with product managers, business analysts, IT engineers, etc. so that product implementations fit completely to expectations given the resources and constraints.

Ops Engineer

As a side step, you can focus on other IT jobs such as Ops Engineer, or specialized System Administrators (Sys Admin), where you will focus more on platform automation, reliability, and observability. There is more configuration, administration, forensics, and less coding.

But you will still code. Shell (Bash, Powershell, etc.) and scripting will be your best friends!

You will abide by the good practices of Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and ITIL governance, most specifically within Change Management, Incident Management, and Problem Management.

Test Engineer

If your mind is more driven by probing things and ultimately driven by quality, this job is for you.

Test engineers focus on elements that are not in line with requirements and the expected “correct” behavior. In addition, they will bend the product until it breaks.

It is all about detecting as early as possible the elements that will go against the fulfillment of the functionality, or hamper the user’s experience. It is a continuous practice as each change has the potential of breaking working features.

They are highly useful advisors as they guide you in the right choice, and the valuable tradeoffs, as IT delivery is often about the decisions between quality, timing, and costs.

Security Engineer

It takes another way of thinking, almost reversing the IT developers’ mindset. As a security engineer, you work in the realm of “what if” and “be ready when”.

It is about playing defensive, thinking in terms of security zones, trust limits, sometime in trustless systems (Zero Trust Architecture), and managing identity and access rights.

The ultimate purpose is to erect an unshakable foundation because a crack in your fortress will be undoubtedly disastrous.

Like Tower Defense games, it is a fun job, and Cybersecurity jobs are in high demand.

UX Designer

If you are sensitive to ergonomics, aesthetics, and customer behavior, and you are already acquainted with frontend development, a jump to UX design, and regularly extended to UX/UI design.

UX, as User Experience, focuses on the events leading to the experience, the beginning of the experience, the path the user walks, and the end of the journey.

UX designers will focus on making the moment “enjoyable”, “frictionless”, and sometimes, “memorable”. Hence, the user’s feelings will be considered a critical piece of data during the design exercise.

Alternatively, the UI (User Interface) Design concentrates on the aesthetics, the action of polishing, turning something common into a unique piece that links to brand identity. Masters in this area are considered digital artists.

IT Manager

Then, if you feel the need to lead, coach, mentor, organize, and decide about the next step: walk the path of the IT Manager.

First and foremost, understand that it is primarily about the people as your job continuously focuses on ensuring your colleagues are in the optimal state for fulfilling their job in the most enjoyable way possible, moving away obstacles, and sources of confusion or disorganization.

Start with learning how to manage a team, a small one (1 to 3) to start with. It takes a different kind of skill set for managing people. It is not because you are a sound engineer that you will be a good people management.

Finally, management truly shines when you learn how to be a leader, and even more when you teach leadership.

Data Management Expert

In this case, it is all about the data. Designing Data models, managing existing data (consistency, integrity, etc), releasing new schema, improving query performances, patching data, performing data migrations, managing reference data, etc.

You will perform a lot of data analysis and forensics. Mastery of the meaning will be key and you are highly valuable to your company / to the industry for these skills.

Data Scientist

Your sole purpose is to find gold in your data, hence your job is to be a researcher using advanced tools such as statistics, graph visualizations, machine learning, deep learning, etc.

This job is perfect for explorers and pioneers. You will navigate the sea of data (Data warehouses, Data Lake, Data Mart, etc.) often to seek an answer to a question, or in pursuit of pieces of information unseen before.

You will find correlations, clean the data, aggregate them, practice feature engineering, create models, and, to some extent, reuse or create new A.I. architecture.

The point is that you must be good with data and maths, especially statistics. There is much less coding, yet most libraries such as Pytorch, Tensorflow, and Brain.js are built upon Python, JavaScript, and R. Coding is more of a tool in this case.

IT Risk Engineer

This discipline consists in transforming the organization by incorporating risk elements inherent to bad practice and non-compliance to industry standards (HIPAA, ISO 9001, BIAN, …), regulated framework (GDPR, NIS, …), practice standards (ITIL, COBIT, …), and corporate standards.

As an IT Risk engineer, your activities are:

  • Designing and enriching the risk management methodology
  • Running day-to-day operations, controls, and governance to ensure the enterprise stays in adequation with compliance.
  • Coding IT programs that guarantee automatic compliance by design.
  • Actively mentoring other colleagues in developing risk awareness

Typically, IT risk elements are subject to compliance checks run in the scope of audits.

IT Auditor

IT Auditors are the ones verifying compliance with standards and regulations. You can work as an internal auditor or an external (independent) auditor.

You will work within a control framework and an IT auditing methodology to highlight compliance findings and gaps with respect to a standard or a regulation.

For the latter, you will likely represent a body of regulation or a body of certification. Either way, you will more often find a job in the top tiers consulting firms, such as EY, BCG, Infosys, Cap Gemini, or large companies that are either mandated by the regulator to have an internal audit organization, such as in Banking.

Technical Writer

Technical writers are experts in writing professional documentation. Your purpose is to engineer documentation in such a way that it will holistically be understood by a specific audience, could it be an end user, an administrator, or a developer.

You structure your documentation so that its information architecture is easily grasped by the reader. In addition, the progression is engineered in such a way that the reader will learn throughout its journey what concepts mean, how they are related to each other, and how to repeat tasks to become autonomous.

A technical writer deeply understands that documentation is part of “the product definition”, therefore it must be polished, finished, visually designed, and user-focused.

Typically, the best documentation promoted by the best ICT companies is written by these experts. They work with Content Management Systems, proof-writing systems, templates, reader-friendly fonts, and rich illustrations, within the consistency of a design system created by a UX/UI Designer.

🫡

Categories
Artificial Intelligence Design GPT3 Illustration Information Technology UI Architecture

Taddy & Rapty, a friendship in 68 artistic styles, using AI

Goal

The following web story depicts a series of 68 similar pictures, generated by the artificial intelligence Dall-E 2.

Each of these pictures is drawn in a unique artistic style.

The intent is to test the depth and the “creativity” resulting from prompt engineering.

The prompt used is:

“A Teddy bear doing a high five with a velociraptor, <name of artistic style>”.

Downloadable resources

The pictures and the list of artistic styles in CSV, JSON, MS Excel, and CQL (Neo4J) are in the following repository on GitHub:

https://github.com/yannickhuchard/artistic_styles

🫡

Categories
Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning Information Technology Technology

This new AI for video editing makes you smile and change gender

Check out this stunning #ai improvement: edit #video to make anyone smile, angrier, older, younger, more serious, change gender, etc.

It even works on animated characters!

https://stitch-time.github.io/

Here is also a great video made by the channel Two Minutes Papers:

Big thanks to Rotem Tzaban, Ron Mokady, Rinon Gal, Amit Haim Bermano, and Tel Aviv University

Categories
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.

Links

Categories
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

Categories
Architecture Data Data Architecture Information Technology Master Data Management

Getting Started with Master Data Management (MDM)

Image by Gerd Altmann

The MDM journey should definitely start with an analysis and the identification of the short-term goals you want to achieve. In fact, MDM will be a service for the whole company.

MDM is for:

  • A mall for your most valuable data
  • Contains end-to-end footprints of your business activities
  • An aggregation of rigorously organized data
  • Its scope starts with your core business information
  • Offers data-driven views of your processes that span over multiple lines of business.

You should start your MDM journey by:

  1. Analyze in detail the pros and cons of putting in place MDM. MDM is more about governance as distributed discipline than technology.
  2. Create a core project team that will analyze and defend the establishment of MDM in your company.
  3. Launch an awareness campaign. Then, educate people about the advantages and responsibilities when the business is operated with MDM
  4. Identify which data will be part of the MDM Strategy
  5. Define an Enterprise Data Model (EDM). This is a common catalog so that everybody in the company understands the business terms. Thus, it is also a means for calibrating internal communication. Ultimately, your MDM system is the digital implementation of your EDM
  6. Identify and standardize your Reference Data
  7. Design your Information System Architecture as to which data flows and systems will take part in it.
  8. Choose an MDM system technology. This application will be the core of the MDM execution and operations. Take into account the available skills on the market.
  9. Define your Data Quality Indicators because data quality management is paramount.
  10. Establish the MDM governance processes and roles (data owners and stewardship)
  11. Design your firsts reports and dashboards, then collect feedback about their value. As a result of this, increase the data scope by iteration.
  12. Communicate a LOT the benefits of MDM, to finally advertise the benefits. For instance, those would come from the golden data source, improved data quality, richer dashboards, unlocked analytics insights, etc.

Also, MDM is not a one-time exercise, it is a continuous practice. So make sure there is an organization owning the MDM system and the MDM governance!