Use Enterprise Architecture to Unlock the Transformational Potential of IoT

January 26, 2017

Contributor: Christy Pettey

Focus on five EA strategies to address IoT technology challenges.

The idea of modeling the larger number of common things — cars, buildings and consumer products — from virtual models, with functional behavior embedded to make day-to-day decisions about the physical world, is emerging.

With the diversity of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and uses, enterprise architecture (EA) and technology innovation leaders must devise an IoT architecture strategy that identifies business opportunities while limiting threats.

“EA and technology innovation leaders are in a great position to lead their organizations' response to the opportunities and threats of IoT technologies,” said Mike J. Walker, research director at Gartner. “They are also well-placed to evaluate the impact of these technologies on business models, and to assess the technology risks.”

Mr. Walker says that EA and innovation leaders should focus on five ways to address top IoT challenges:

Adopt Ideation-Based Approaches to Exploit the IoT's Potential

Using an ideation-based process, EA and technology innovation leaders can understand the characteristics of a specific IoT technology, and identify the technology’s business opportunity. Through this ideation, they can provide business unit and IT leaders with more than just a list of “cool” technology ideas. For example, they could provide a broad understanding of the business impacts of IoT technologies, based on the technologies’ characteristics, the information they expose and how the will be used.

Create Business Scenarios for the Use of IoT Technologies

Building on ideation and understanding IoT technology isn’t enough. Business scenarios are a forward-looking way for organizations to describe how IoT technologies can introduce new value streams. They can also enhance existing ones by combining innovative technologies with possible future business models. EA and technology innovation leaders should partner with business leaders and experts to define the opportunity or challenges in business scenarios.

Manage Risks by Devising IoT Information Architecture

IoT technologies break down the traditional view of security because organizations must shift from an information security approach to a risk management approach when assessing which opportunities are viable. Once organizations have identified the business opportunities of IoT technologies by using business scenarios, they can identify the context needed to understand the effects of the information in IoT solutions.

Partner With Other Roles to Develop an Interoperability Strategy

Fixing business outcomes, devising business scenarios and defining business information give IoT initiatives a solid foundation for understanding how to approach interoperability. While EA and technology innovation leaders don't own the interoperability strategy, they should partner with and guide integration architects and other related technology roles to develop an interoperability strategy.

Focus on Providing IoT Experiences Users Want

Organizations will only gain competitive advantage from IoT technologies if they make them simple, useful and intuitive for users. The technologies alone won't gain mainstream adoption if they don't address a specific purpose and enhance the user experience. EA and technology innovation leaders must understand how users want to use IoT technologies - and in what environments - while also understanding the users' cultures. This is where personas come in. Personas can be used to humanize the target audience of a solution with a view to provider a better user experience.

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