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Digital Architecture Design Day 5th Oct 2021

On the 5th of October The Digital Architecture Design Day was held by the Dutch Forum of Architects (NAF). It’s been a while since we’ve had an in-person conference and so we were thrilled to visit the ‘rijtuigenloods’ in Amersfoort for a whole day of sharing knowledge and experience with fellow architects.

The program consisted of several keynotes throughout the day and several parallel tracks in the morning and afternoon. In this blog we will collectively share our experience of this terrific day at this impressive location.

Which started out with a keynote from Anneke Keller who has an impressive track record in e-Commerce and currently works as CTO as Wehkamp. She shared her ideas on the unique organisation structure based on the Agile principles to work in multi-disciplinary scrum teams and allows the organisation to scale. It was an interesting and fresh view on things. We liked her idea on the architecture responsibility, which was pretty similar to our vision :). She also acknowledges that sometimes people can rise above this role and named them pathfinder. We will remember this alternative name to a solution architect when Wehkamp could use some help at this level some day :).

After this keynote the first tracks started and we visited both Defining Antifragility and the application on Organisation Design by Edzo Botjes (Architect, Xebia) and Building a sustainable tomorrow by Sander Meijer (Lead EA, BAM).

Edzo Botjes has enlightened us with his research and findings on antifragility with models and frameworks to build and assure that solutions adhere to the highest forms of resilience to make our lives easy when the products operate in production.

Sander Meijer (Lead Enterprise Architect. BAM) who told us about the construction sector and how the sector is lagging behind in digital innovation.

He then went into detail about some of the innovative initiatives happening within BAM. What stood out for us was their effort to use Drones and 3D scanning for inspecting places that are difficult to access like busy roads or bridges. By using this method it is possible to make remote measurements. Already steps are being taken to up the game towards predictive maintenance using Machine Learning for automatically analyzing photos or information taken on site.

Another interesting development is the use of sensors to collect infrastructure and building related data for predictive maintenance. This way BAM is able to perform maintenance at the right place and time. It sparks a big question regarding data ownership. Is the data collected by BAM’s sensors owned by BAM or by the owner of the object under measurement? There is no legal body in the Netherlands leading this discussion.

Last development that we want to highlight is the effort to reuse building elements. To be able to reuse elements, all it’s properties should be trackable. Properties like for instance size or pressure that some element is able to withstand. Efforts are currently being made to develop an industry wide registry that holds all these properties. This will undoubtedly contribute to waste reduction in the future.

After a coffee break we hopped on the train with Frank Luycks (EA, Capgemini) and his talk on the roadmap to the intelligent enterprise.

This in fact was a session packed the development of a new industry 4.0 standard and his past experiences related to this topic to increase to a next level of awareness in customer interaction. It is very nice to see how IT keeps moving towards more customer awareness. As the solutions presented often included some ERP which means that most data is kept centrally, we do wonder how this would relate to customized solutions and best practices like microservice architectures, domain driven design and the separation of concerns principle advocated by them.

After a nice lunch Milan Guenther (President, Intersection Group) talked us through their views and techniques to model your enterprise in this keynote ‘An Enterprise Design approach to leading change’. A surprisingly fresh and nice approach that plots your customer interaction against your enterprise systems. Having the customer journey at the edge of your enterprise and connecting it to your systems and processes really stood out and reflected the context and purpose of your IT services.

The afternoon tracks started with a familiar and very innovative topic from Ingrid Romijn (Program Manager, QuTech). We already were acquainted with this topic after our session together with JDriven: From Bit to Qubit – an introduction to quantum technology.

Thus, some of us went for quantifying coherence by Roel Wagter (Associate partner, Solventa). Roel Wagter enlightens us (and his students at the university where he teaches) about the (lack of) coherence between mission statements, core values, goals and actions. Roel described a very detailed technique to measure the coherence in your company’s strategic plan. A high coherence would imply a lot of synergy in the activities to fulfill the company’s mission. Ofcourse, this is something every executive would like to see for their company. It amazes me to hear that apparently a lot of companies lack coherence in their strategic plans.

For our company (Infuze) we also had to develop a strategic plan. In hindsight after Roel’s presentation, I’m actually proud of how we defined a coherent view of our business and what we would like to achieve for our customers.

The final track of the day we followed was in fact a workshop guided by Evelyn van Kelle and Paul de Raaij to share our ideas on the fulfillment of the architecture role and accidental and essential architecture complexity. The latter is a hot topic for some time and we like the awareness that essential complexity is a given fact about your domain while accidental complexity involves IT constructs that we should be hesitant to apply. Furthermore it was a bit astonishing to hear among the audience that within software engineering enterprises lacking an architect, architectural decisions are usually taken by stakeholders lacking a technical background...

The digital architecture design day ended with a mindblowing trip down memory lane and a philosophic view questioning if humans are still 'top dogs' in this brave new world of massive IT? Gerben Wierda (Lead Architect, APG) questioning whether we are masters or slaves was something to experience for yourself ;P

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