What is common with Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg both of them have being huge successes in what they offered to the world. They stand for make a dent in the Universe and yes they did it. If you see both of them they did play at intersections and ended up disrupting more than one industry. Steve Jobs combined design and technology and made owing hardware akin to buy vintage art or jewelry. Before him people had given up on hardware which was not good looking and aesthetic, he created awe inspiring products by combining design and technology. Similar is Facebook which combines social and technology to have connected almost all of the world.
Like wise it is when it play at intersections you have multiple opportunities of disrupting more than one field. Likewise when you see many fintech start-ups they are all playing at various intersections.
You have banking intersecting payments.
Payments intersecting retails
Payments intersecting travel
Payments intersecting eCommerce
Loan industry intersecting real estate
CRM industry intersecting credit card industry
Hospitality industry intersects Banking
The list is endless and the possibilities are very many. Playing at intersections has more than one advantage as you are exposed to ideas which flower and cross pollinate when they collide with other ideas and give birth to fresh new design and offerings. This is not possible when you work in isolation in one area. Most often these work best when not compartmentalized in siloed states , they need a continuum or an ecosystem where all people involved in the value chain to the end customer are brought on the same table and it can lead to fusion and myriad colour all coming together.
Enterprise Continuum from the Open Group is one such initiative that aims at connecting the buyer, seller and the internal teams of a value chain together if you were to look at it from Michael Porters famous value chain. This continuum has enabled many an industry to stay connected with their entire ecosystem such as partners , sellers and their own teams delivering on many mandates. One such example of how this would work in practice would be let’s take the example of a Salesforce team which has many partners that it is depended on it and all such information relevant and shareable to both parties will be made available. This means all that can be shared preserving all IP and NDA issues shall be made seamlessly available to both connected parties across the board with the same level of understanding in taxonomy and jargons which bring all parties in an engagement on the same level. The Enterprise Continuum takes this further and extends it to have internal teams , partners and vendors all on this connected platform. Once this clarity is there in the ecosystem it becomes easy to build, integrate, brainstorm, enhance or do anything is required for the moment. This might sound utopian but if implemented well with the support of a visionary leader, it has the power to transform most issues arising out of working in silos across industries.
Dow went from being a Inorganic company to being an Organic Company to being a plastics company to being a food company. These are not simple transformations or transitions. Now they are embracing the culture of innovating at intersections at the intersections of material science , biological science and physics.
Why Enterprise Continuum of TOGAF Amidst Of All This Talk of Innovation ?
Enterprise Continuum from the Open Group is quote “The Enterprise Continuum provides methods for classifying architecture and solution artifacts, both internal and external to the Architecture Repository, as they evolve from generic Foundation Architectures to Organization-Specific Architectures.”.
In short the above diagram shows how a company can go about organizing its organization artifacts from generic to specific. The more you move towards foundation architectures it would be generic and the more one moves towards the right towards organization specific architectures you narrow down the scope and genericity. The diagram has both architectural and solution assets which allows for abstraction from logical to physical which is fundamental to good architectural work. As you can see a company or organization can starts it journey by beginning with Foundation Architectures and move towards Common Systems Architecture where you have narrowed down your architecture from blue sky generic architecture where the scope of building the most generic architecture is toned down to concentrating on the core domain de-scoping the operating systems and network architecture portions of the same. Now you focus on the industry that you are working on and store industry specific architecture in the industry architecture section. Let’s say you are a developing a banking software then all the other industries that you closely work with such as CRM , Payments , Retail , Financial Services, regulatory services, credit cards will find a place in the industry architecture section. But your focus in the year one of architecture / product development shall be only on building banking software which happens to your core focus area. Again you as a company keeping adding features to your core product, you will refer back to the industry specific architectures to add differentiators in your core product. When you are marrying a core banking product with a payments feature then you potentially refer to the industry specific architectures section of your enterprise continuum and then pick the relevant architectures and go about building your feature. Now this is a value add that Enterprise Continuum brings to the table where you as an organization developing a product also refers to architectures specific to your industry and this can help you in innovating at intersections.
Have such an integrated concept for knowledge and artifacts managements can go a long way in helping a company with innovation at intersections. This means you can work along side product, industry boundaries and if done well you are poised to disrupting more than one industry. Enterprise Continuum also can be created for your specific needs and reflects your journey and what artifacts you as an organization is interested in and help you go back and forth and exploit potential innovation that can happen at boundaries.
Open Group has a extension of this concept where industry specific artifacts for oil and gas, telecom, mining, supply chain are available and companies can become members and look at what is of interest to them by being part of the community and benefit from the same.
They say it is fun “Innovating at Intersections” Enterprise Continuum of TOGAF has an answer to this. Would love to hear your thoughts on the same.