Enterprise hits and misses - AI's dangers are redefined, enterprise architecture gets overhauled, and holiday retail sweats the supply chain

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed October 18, 2021
This week - does enterprise architecture need an overhaul? Will supply chain woes sink retailers' holiday hopes? AI remains dangerous, but not for the reasons we think. Buzzword bingo gets a biometric blockchain, and in the whiffs, I call out some linkbait.

King Checkmate

Lead story - Is it time for enterprise architectures to be redrawn?

You can probably guess my answer, but let's hear from author Mark Chillingworth first. Look, we've been pushing towards a new enterprise stack for some time now.

But here's the problem: if architects build shiny new toys without business involvement, we risk ending up with an excess of Kubernetes - and a heaping helping of unwieldy microservices (I pick on Kubernetes because a big theme with KubeCon attendees last week was the need to effectively scale). Mark quotes Richard Williams, CIO with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD):

Too often architects disappear down into the details and don't contribute to the bigger conversation. How do we get architects to come on the journey that CIOs have been on, which is to reinvent themselves as value-adding assets to the business.

As for my microservices snark, I'm generally a fan of the "composable enterprise." But: I'm also a grumpy stickler for governance and ROI. Mark found proof points here. He quotes CTO Eric Newcomer at API tech firm WS02, a former global head of architecture at Citi and Credit Suisse:

The transition from monolith to microservices needs a high level of good governance. At Citi we needed to be able to scale in order to cope with payments from the likes of Airbnb and Uber.

To Mark's central point: "The pace of change increases the need for architecture." And what is good architecture? That's changed also - on several levels. Scripting and low-code helps with the build; business needs now reign supreme. Newcomer again:

We need people who translate business needs into technology investments.

Back to the question: do we need to redraw our enterprise architecture? Perhaps - but few companies have the appetite (or the budget) for a total tear down and rebuild. What we do need is to ensure our customer-facing apps and microservice projects add up to something - and fit into the same data platform. New platforms gain momentum over time - and that's where the viable business case lands. Tear it down? Probably not. But let it wither.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

  • Costa Coffee navigates COVID-19 whilst brewing a fresh HCM platform for its workforce - I'm a sucker for a coffee-related use case, and Gary's got a hot cup: "Having one single database, from timesheet, right the way through to pay, means there's no manual intervention needed. We can now also calculate pay whenever we want to, so we can see at any point in time the cost of salaries to the business." A good setup for pandemic times, where manual processes are log jams.
  • Synthetic data for AI modeling? I'm still not convinced - AI vendors are sneaking "synthetic data" into all their PowerPoints. But Neil isn't sold yet: "I'm still not convinced of the argument for similar data that closely resembles the real data; the anonymizing has issues and drawbacks, and generative models do not make it any more credible."

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

Yes, the virtual event cavalcade surged on... Here's some choice picks from our event hubs:

Google Cloud Next 2021:

Now at Work 2021:

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Cath shares the story of a pioneering hacker in Ada Lovelace Day - hacker Alissa Knight on being a trans woman in a man's world. Chris returns to his robotics wheelhouse in UK robotics - government forecasts small gains from massive inaction.

Be warned: if you make the mistake of delivering a larded-up, crudcastic jargon-heavy presentation, Brian might make a Mad Lib out of you: Eyes down for keynote buzzword bingo - a Brian Sommer masterclass. And yes, this all came out of one stupendous presso. Care to play along? Brian compiled a bingo sampler for you:

The Age of the Biometric Blockchain is materially altering the Future of Hybrid Work. Our highly adaptive, collaborative human leaders are enabling a mega-generational shift in stakeholder solutions that power today’s and tomorrow’s factories of the intellectual future.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top eight

Overworked businessman


I question the veracity of this one, but the headline is a keeper: Tattoo artist set ablaze during butt tattoo 'gas leak'. These guys pulled a fast one, apparently: Carmen Mola: Lauded Spanish female crime writer revealed to be 3 men.

Juxtaposing "dangerous AI" is goofy AI:

I could do without the AI hype festival though, this time from Dark Reading:

Finally, this got the dander up:

If you're curious about the data Wired has - that folks who quit are coming back with their tails between their legs, or intend to, don't bother. Wired doesn't have any data, at least not here. Not a bad article - but evidently it wasn't the one Wired wanted, so they changed the title to suit themselves. "Follow the data" is fine. "Forget the data, we have a story to run" is another. See you next time...

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed.

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