Part 4. The final missing piece,
the roll of duct tape….
As the Internet of Everything takes shape, we see a growing number of enterprises adopt ecosystem-wide business process orchestration systems to take advantage of, and integrate, all existing and all new Internet of Everything building blocks. The role of integration platforms as the broker to connect “Thing” data to digital ledgers and cloud-based deep learning, will become fully realized. The platforms' integration capabilities start with the Smart devices themselves, continue with connections to Public Clouds, legacy systems, B2B trading hub, Analytics, Smart Contracts, Serverless Compute, and Machine Learning, to name just a few, and ultimately serve as the ‘virtual duct tape’ to integrate all building blocks into cutting edge IoE solutions.
Smart contracts and distributed ledgers on their own, provide only a partial solution, namely self-execution close to the transaction and the transaction recording in each process. Once connected to application integration platforms, smart contracts act as the connective tissue between party A on one side of the transaction to party B on the other side. Smart contracts greatly extend the capabilities of Application Integration platforms beyond the walls of an organization, acting as mediator between two or more entities.
Smart contracts are rigid by nature. Sometimes this rigidity is unavoidable and even desirable. Financial processes demand the definite and the concrete. Other environments and processes, such as autonomous driving cars, require quite the opposite. They need the adaptive mechanisms, fuzzy logic, and prediction, that only artificial intelligence can provide. The application integration platforms' ability to consume API’s and bridge different building blocks and systems, is the key to provide the orchestration and the business process context for both the more deterministic distributed ledger technology and smart contracts, as well as for the more probabilistic machine learning approaches of AI. The concept of an orchestrator, that offers a range of coordination modes and is able to switch gears. Stronger coordination and strict governance in complex high-value financial transactions, and less-structured goal-based coordination, like that in a soccer team.
Finally (for now at least), application integration platforms drive the transition of companies towards agile and software-driven organizations. This applies to IoE-based systems too. Homogeneous architectures should become heterogeneous. Instead of implementing business services through carefully selected and controlled software hierarchies. Enterprises should open their IT infrastructure through API’s while rapidly assembling best-in-class services, combining the best features from both internal and external sources.
Failure is good. That’s one reason agile works so well – short iterations and work transparency let us fail fast, and everyone knows when we fail. We learn a lot more when we fail. IT organizations need to let go of neat and tidy thinking. Instead, they should build — sometimes cobble together - IoE business services quickly, unless they want to be outpaced and out-engineered by competitors. This is where application integration platforms excel at.