Last month, I helped coordinate a BCS London seminar about the role of IT in the airport and air travel industry, and as you might imagine it proved a very popular topic, complete with sold out venue and 4 expert IT practitioners from one of the world’s busiest hub airport. Read on for highlights…
- Airport Operations – Heathrow operates 98% runway capacity which roughly translates to a take-off or landing event occurring every 45 seconds, thereby making it one of the most efficient 2 runway airports in the world. Speaker, Brent Reed (Airport Ops Lead Designer), described how Heathrow introduced a world’s first Time Based Seperation (TBS) system to further maintain / improve on this efficiency, particularly on windy days – every second counts!
- The Automated Passenger Journey – Heathrow is actively implementing the IATA Fast Travel Program strategy which aims to provide 80% of global passengers with a complete and relevant self-service suite by 2020. According to Capgemini’s Don Grose (Lead Solution Architect), this program will deliver multiple benefits for: passengers, airlines and airports, and Heathrow has already delivered or trialled several self service capabilities, including: Self Boarding, Automatic Ticket Presentation and Kiosk self service bag tags, Self Service Bag Drop trials, as well as biometric enrolment & verification.
- Shadow IT at Heathrow – Andrew Isenman (Passenger Experience Design Lead), described how Heathrow employees are starting to engage their colleagues and digitally enabled passengers in different ways, sometimes even bypassing the IT departments. As a result, the latter have proactively started encouraging and shaping how this engagement happens, at the same time they’re addressing the usual questions around: support provision, reduced Total-Cost-of-Ownership (TCO), increased security and minimal technical debt.
- Airport Innovation – Heathrow has embraced the drive for innovation with various initiatives, some of which were presented by Richard Harding, (Head of strategy and innovation at Heathrow). They included: the Heathrow innovation Process, Crowd dynamics (detecting / measuring / alerting via CCTV), WiFi digital finger printing, Airfield Asset inspection, Mobile Display units and treasure hunts. Key insights gleaned from Heathrow innovation highlight the need for: open innovation, active promotion, new governance processes, skills enablement and innovative culture / process metrics.
I was very fortunate to participate in Capgemini’s recent Business Priority Week (BPW), alongside over 300 attendees from 22 countries, at the beautiful Les Fontaines retreat. The focus of the week was a new global service line called Digital Customer Experience (DCX), and we (from various business units, disciplines and competencies) were set a challenge to explore and articulate how we’ll work together to deliver this promise for clients.
Being the clever people that architects are sometimes rumoured to be, the immediate response is directly related their role in a rapidly accelerating digital world. However, as an architect, I fear our time may be coming to an end unless we embrace the need to evolve the practice of architecture into something that clearly defines, assures and guides the digital customer experience for our organisation and our clients (incl. their customers / end-users). In order to do this properly, we must undertake an architectural journey to understand the context and key issues before deciding on the most appropriate response. Key questions to ask and answer include:
1. What is Digital and why is it such a game changer for our clients and our business?
A great story about rice, chess and an emperor was used to illustrate the impact of Moore’s Law to startling effect by revealing that we are only at the beginning of the digital journey, or as the authors of Race Against the Machine would say, “we ain’t seen nothing yet”.
2. Are established architecture approaches still relevant for digital?
The experience gained from several decades of putting together complex computer based systems was not lightly earned, and it would be spectacularly foolish to suggest that this is no longer required in the age of digital. If ever there was a time for true architecture it is right now, at the start of such an epic journey, however this implies a shift in the way architects engage clients and practice architecture.
3. So what is different about architecture for Digital and why is this important?
In a short answer – it needs a renewed focus on the business model. The role of architecture in digital is about getting closer to the business and helping achieve desired outcomes, (so far so normal), but this must be done at the exponential pace of digital, whilst maintaining ROI from existing technology investments. It is akin to walking atop the wall of a castle whilst juggling live cats and canaries, during an earthquake, and ducking missiles from inside and outside the castle. I’m sure you get the picture.
The above points indicate a necessary shift in mindset to handle the relative extremes in velocities at the interface of Digital vs. traditional IT systems. Among other things, the digital architect should:
- Provide enterprise technology governance framework as a key point of reference for the various agile projects and initiatives commonly found in the would-be digital enterprise.
- Utilise business modelling techniques (e.g. the business model canvas) along with time and velocity sensitive architecture principles to provide critical governance and to guide solutions from design right through to implementation, and beyond.
- Be mindful of legal and ethical issues that can arise in the digital space (e.g. contractual obligations for digital services, and / or the privacy concerns of end-users).
- Anticipate the needs of clients and their business in a fast changing environment, even when some stakeholders might challenge the need for architecture in any form.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that architecture has never been more critical than at this particular point in time. This therefore is a call to action for every organisation to challenge their architects to provide the governance and assurance needed to achieve the outstanding outcomes promised by Digital Customer Experience, whilst also protecting existing investment and core assets.
According to a recent Forrester Benchmarks Report, (somewhat provocatively entitled: “CIOs Are Not Ready To Support Business Innovation”), there are 3 levels of capabilities required to sustain innovation which any aspiring innovative organisation will do well to take notice. These key capabilities are clustered around 3 levels of: idea, implementation and control (see diagram below):
Figure: Forrester’s 3 Level of capabilities for sustainable innovation*
Some key findings from the report indicate that:
- Sustainable innovation requires “repeatable, manageable and measurable processes” across the 3 capability levels. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that incremental change does not necessarily equate to innovation.
- Ideas management (including: ideation, incubation and portfolio management capabilities) is ad hoc and under managed across many organisations. Incidentally, this is the layer in which many organisations concentrate their efforts, especially during the initial buzz of launching of a new innovation initiative or program (usually with a team of dedicated people, or part-time volunteers within the organisation).
- Various process and cultural issues will challenge implementation (e.g.: change management, incentives and communication capabilities). The processes and culture of many organisations will need major adjustment to cope with / support sustainable innovation. The occasional one-off innovation, and / or slow incremental change, may not present much of a problem, but constant, sustained innovation is challenging and sometimes disruptive.
- Clear differences exist between organisations and their approach to innovation control (i.e. governance, funding and measurement capabilities). Innovation programs require different governance and control capabilities than the rest of the organisation, especially for timelines and outcomes, but these need clear boundaries on behaviour, funding and metrics / KPIs. I recently reviewed a book about “the architecture of innovation”, which discusses this and some of the other items above, in some depth.
Based on the above, it could be argued that many organisations, (and their CIOs), are not yet fully prepared to support sustainable innovation. So the obvious question to ask: what are you planning or doing about it in your organisation?
Please Note: This post kicks off a new innovation topic series on which I plan to blog regularly. The topic seems to have become pervasive of late. For example, I lead a small innovation group in my business unit at work and we blog a lot about innovation, plus I write about “Tools for Innovation”, on behalf of the BCS Entrepreneurs Group. Given my keen interest in / involvement with creative entrepreneurs, investors and innovative technologies, It just made sense to pull these strands of related posts together under one “innovation series”. Disclaimer: As ever, except where stated otherwise, all opinions / observations / critique remain mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, The BCS Chartered Institute for IT, or any other groups in which I’m involved.
This week’s quarterly Open Group conference in Washington DC, featured several thought provoking sessions around key issues / developments of interest and concern to the IT world, including: Security, Cloud, Supply Chain, Enterprise Transformation (including Innovation), and of course Enterprise Architecture (including TOGAF and Archimate).
Below are some key highlights, captured from the sessions I attended (or presented), as follows:
Day 1 – Plenary session focused on Cyber Security, followed by three tracks on Supply Chain, TOGAF and SOA. Key messages included:
- Key note by Joel Brenner described the Internet as a “porous and insecure network” which has become critical for so many key functions (e.g. financial, communications and operations) yet remains vulnerable to abuse by friends, enemies and competitors. Best quote of the conference, was: “The weakest link is not the silicon based unit on the desk, but the carbon based unit in the chair” (also tweeted and mentioned in @jfbaeur’s blog here)
- NIST’s Dr. Don Ross spoke about a perfect storm of consumerisation (BYOD), ubiquitous connectivity and sophisticated malware, leading to an “advanced persistent threat” enabled by available expertise / resources, multiple attack vectors and footholds in infrastructure
- MIT’s Professor Yossi Sheffi expounded on the concept of building security and resilience for competitive advantage. This, he suggested, can be done by embracing “flexibility DNA”, (as exhibited in a few successful organisations), into the culture of your organisation. Key flexibility traits include:
- Your resilience and security framework must drive, or at least feed into, “business-as-usual”
- Continuous communication is necessary among all members of the organisation
- Distribute the power to make decisions (especially to those closer to the operations)
- Create a passion for your work and the mission
- Deference to expertise, especially in times of crisis
- Maintain conditioning for disruptions – ability for stability is good, but flexibility to handle change is even better
- Capgemini’s Mats Gejneval discussed agility and enterprise architecture using Agile methods and TOGAF. He highlighted the relationship flow between: agile process -> agile architecture -> agile project delivery -> agile enterprise, and how the latter outcome requires each of the preceding qualities (e.g. agile methods, and faster results, on its own will not deliver agile solutions or enterprise). My favourite quote, during the Q/A, was: “…remember that architects hunt in packs!”
Day 2 – Plenary session focused on Enterprise Transformation followed by four streams on Security Architecture, TOGAF Case Studies, Archimate Tutorials, and EA & Enterprise Transformation (including our session on Innovation & EA). Key Highlights include:
- A case study on the role of open standards for enterprise transformation, featured Jason Uppal (Chief Architect at QRS), describing the transformation of Toronto’s University Health Network into a dynamic and responsive organisation, by placing medical expertise and requirements above the flexible, open standards based, IT delivery.
- A view on how to modernise service to citizens via a unified (or “single window government”) approach was provided by Robert Weisman (CEO of Build a Vision Inc). He described the process to simplify key events (from 1400 down to 12 major life events) around which the services could be defined and built.
- Samira Askarova (CEO of WE Solutions Group) talked about managing enterprise transformation through transitional architectures. She likened business transformation to a chameleon with: its huge, multi-directional eyes (i.e. for long term views), the camouflage ability (i.e. changing colours to adapt), and the deliberate gait (i.e. making changes one step at a time)
- The tutorial session on Innovation and EA, by Corey Glickman (Capgemini’s lead for Innovation-as-a-Managed Service) and yours truly, discussed the urgent need for EA to play a vital role in bridging the gap between rapid business model innovation and rapid project delivery (via Agile). It also provided several examples, as well as a practical demonstration of the Capgemini innovation service platform, which was well received by the audience. Key take aways include:
- Innovation describes an accomplishment, after the fact
- EA can bridge the gap between strategy (in the business model) and rapid project delivery (via Agile)
- Enterprise Architecture must actively embrace innovation
- Engage with your partners, suppliers, customers and employees – innovation is not all about technology
- Creating a culture of innovation is key to success
- Remember, if you are not making mistakes, you are not innovating
Day 3 – Featured three streams on Security Automation, Cloud Computing for Business, and Architecture methods and Techniques. Highlights from the Cloud stream (which I attended) include:
- Capgemini’s Mark Skilton (Co-chair of the Open Group’s Cloud Working Group) talked about the right metrics for measuring cloud computing’s ability to deliver business architecture and strategy. He discussed the complexity of Cloud and implications for Intellectual Property, as well as the emergence of ecosystem thinking (e.g. ecosystem architecture’ and ‘ecosystem metrics’) for cloud computing and applications
- A debate about the impact of cloud computing on modern IT organisational structure raised the point that a dysfunctional relationship exists between business and IT with respect to cloud services. The conclusion (and recommendation) is that healthy companies tend to avoid buying cloud services in business silos, instead they will pursue a single cloud strategy, in collaboration with IT, which is responsible for maintenance, security and integration into the enterprise landscape
- Prakash Rao, of the FEAC Institute, discussed Enterprise Architecture patterns for Cloud Computing. He reiterated the point made earlier about how enterprise architecture can be used to align enterprise patterns (i.e. business models) to development processes. Also that enterprise patterns enable comparison and benchmarking of cloud services in order to determine competitive advantage
The bullet items and observations recorded above does not do justice to breadth and depth of the entire conference which included networking with attendees from over 30 countries, across all key industries / sectors, plus multiple, simultaneous streams, sessions and activities, many of which I could not possibly attend. Overall, this was an excellent event that did not disappoint. Further materials can be found on the Open Group website, including:
- Event website: http://www.opengroup.org/dc2012
- Live Streams – http://new.livestream.com/opengroup
- Archimate 2.0 Specification (free download) – http://www.opengroup.org/archimate/
- Photo Contest – https://www.facebook.com/theopengroup
I would recommend the Open Group conference to any professional in IT and beyond.