With today’s focus on the role of digital ecosystems and the Internet of Everything, Integration, API management and Big Data are all key tools. We can begin to combine data from these new devices with existing sources of data to build new services, based on this combination of ecosystem and device. We can also provide a way to allow other organisations to find and use those services that have been developed.

Ecosystems?

First, just to describe what I mean by an ecosystem. All organisations have an existing set of functions, capabilities and data that describes them. Much of this is supported by standard applications that are common today: ERP, customer management systems, supply chain management. But it's rare that an organisation will own all the functions that they use themselves. They are much more likely to have certain functions supplied by one or more specialist providers, so the organisation needs to have access and insight into the activities of their partners and suppliers. By using interfaces to access them, the organisation can treat these as an extension of their core business. What we can propose is to extend the same approach to connected devices and objects, anything in fact that can create data may be useful. When device data is combined with existing data sources you can create something new with its own value and use it to build a new service. This might be only of use to the organisation themselves, but may have the potential to be part of a product offering that can be sold as a capability to others.

The process

There are four distinct steps to create these new services - collection, connection, crafting and combination.

  • Collection is the actual retrieval of information from a connected device. It may be high volume and high velocity data, and the stream of data may need to be mediated (the filtering or validating of that data, before it can be of use). This is dependent on the types of devices that we're connecting to, their actual attributes. In this step, I'm not including device management here, it's not the role of collection to manage and assure an installed device, but that is something that needs to be addressed, and I’ll mention that again later. Here we are just talking about getting useful information from a range of different devices.
  • Connection is used to bring in other sources of data, something that can be used to enhance what has been collected. This can be from existing applications, but also from a wider set of public or privately available sources of data. For example, this connection could also be to a 3rd party source of data like an address checker, publicly available maps or any other accessible data set, connecting using APIs to any source that might be of use.
  • Crafting is taking this information and building a new set, based on what has been collected, connected to and derived from applying logic. Ideally this should be one that addresses a specific question or can be used to fill a gap in an organisation's capability.
  • Combination is where we take this new set of data, couple it with any suitable device and business functionality, and make it available for use as a service. Now we are adding documentation on how to use this new service and deciding how to control access and to secure it. We’ll want to turn this into a discrete package that we can call upon, or maybe allow others to use as part of a much larger digital ecosystem of capabilities and functionality.

Unfortunately, it’s not only a case of orchestration, analytics and API exposure, so in my next post I’ll highlight other subjects that need to be addressed to make sure we have a robust and dependable service.

 

About the Author

Chris Hughes -Torry-HarrisChris Hughes - is the Business Architect at Torry Harris Business Solutions, working with global clients to translate business vision into IT architecture strategies and roadmaps.

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