Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is for the time being and important new domain to be discussed. As far I am concerned, perhaps the most productive debate we can have at the conference in the 2017 edition isn’t the one of good versus evil, the rise of the machines or singularity is near. The debate could be about the guidelines instilled in the people and organizations using A.I., something that cybernetics tried to push back in the 60’s.
Why the human element still matters?
At the same time that demand for efficient, transactional, prediction-driven workplace systems is on the rise, just look around you and you will realize that most of the interactions you have with companies or even to perform daily tasks – like find the better route to commute – have embedded intelligence and are context aware, taking into consideration your location, profile and transactional history. However, there are a set of skills we seemingly don’t want systems to perform. Despite new techniques like deep learning are denting our ability to prevent we will become dispensable, emotional intelligence is said to be among the fastest-growing job skills, and some experts say the ability to collaborate and listen thoughtfully can even protect your position and help advance your career over the next decade as automation progresses. This is probably the reason that contact centers were not totally replaced by robots. Yet.
I would argue that perhaps the most productive debate we can have isn’t one of good versus evil. The debate should be about the values instilled in the people and institutions creating this technology. We must enforce technology with protections for privacy, transparency, and security. A.I. must be designed to detect new threats and devise appropriate protection and must be inclusive and respectful to the human being. This put an extra challenge – more than discussing on rules, policies and how to implemented coding, is the foundation principle on what is right and what is wrong. The definition of a concept, a domain, is a consequence of the surroundings, of the environment we live and the multitude of human principles and beliefs. What in a society can be accepted as a practice, in other can be condemned.
Advances in technology is powering the next industrial revolution, basically blurring the physical and the digitaldivide. Technology is today omnipresent. Capitalizing on this phenomenon is the key to innovation. From the rise of A.I. and related technologies, the challenge and opportunity for business leaders is to harness the ubiquitous, disruptive force of technology to be more agile, fuel efficiency and ultimately shape the shape of the industry destiny. Definitely in this next industrial revolution, we are facing a range of new technologies that combine the physical, digital and biological worlds. Failure to understand how to embrace A.I. into operations and business models, may end up of being out of market.
For healthcare, A.I. can advance recommend the most effective treatments for their patients, as well as, predict human body organs failure and increase our life expectancy.
For transportation, A.I. can improve the efficiency transportation systems, integrating supply chain on real time, prevent incidents, optimize the fuel consumption and safety and support maintenance of infrastructure.
For public safety, A.I. can deploy predictive models for crime and help security forces to find associations in massive amounts of information to spot insurgency and handle complex crime cases.
For financial services, A.I. can manage must better risk exposure, by ingesting millions of data segments used in risk models, reduce fraud and tax evasion, assist in providing the best insurance coverage at the right cost combining data provided by the customer and its relationships.
For individuals, A.I. can assist humans in developing personalized recommendations based on the stage of life the individual is, combining data about the individual preferences, beliefs and transactions.
During the course of last two weeks, I was involved with a series of workshops with the IT department of a bank that operates in more than 30 countries. The workshops objective was to define a digital banking transformation roadmap.
During many years, for those that are involved in BPM projects have discussed the meaning of what is the definition of end-to end processes. One of the classic examples in the banking industry is when the account opening process ends. It ends when the account number is created or it ends when all the channels which the customer can consume financial services and execute operations are available and operative?
Today, opening a bank account trough a friction-less process is not a common desire. The wish of any customer that belong to retail banking is how it can construct the Bank of Me, how it can incorporate using the bank mobile app making transactions with 3rd parties, like a youngster paying the school fees, do social banking (transfers, borrowing from Facebook friends). Corporate banking, oriented to trading operations, which to integrate supply chain operations between, customers, suppliers, road haulage companies, combining the flow of documents, status of merchandise movement and money transfers.
Five years ago, under the new e-CMR regulation, there was the possibility in road freight to eliminate the famous paper based system (that still exists) and exchange information digitally between all the involved stakeholders – buyer, seller, transport company and banks . The CMR is a document that underpins the legal transport contract between a seller, a transport company and a buyer. It ensures the goods were shipped and received accordingly, on which banks rely to wire the money between the involved trading parties. Without such a document, financial transactions are halted, supply chain document reconciliation is blocked, as well as financial close activities. Now, that piece of document travels physically in the truck. Some long haul trucks return to logistics head quarters every 15 days – because they need to optimise cargo utilisation, a key KPI for business viability – this means only when the physical CMR arrives to the logistics back office, payment processes between buyer and seller can start (digital copies are ignored, due fraud and contractual implications between the parties involved). In such kind of transactions there is room for optimisation and automation, but unless companies do not embrace the concept of open systems architecture is very unlikely that operations will suffer from the tangled syndrome.
The era of Open Socio-technical Systems
Fred Emery defined and evolved the concept  and defined such kind of systems as:
“Is a purposeful system composed of an interrelated social component (people, culture, norms,) and technical component (technology, tools, materials) which is embedded in a greater context, an environment, which the system is influenced by and also influences.”
Later, Merrelyn Emery  evolved the concept to “Socioecological” means:
“people-in-environments,” which is expressed by the concept of the open system […] expresses the transaction of system and environment, all components of which are governed by laws which are able to be known. “
Gartner  defines in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service:
“integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a cloud service that provides a platform to support application, data and process integration projects, usually involving a combination of cloud-based applications and data sources, APIs  and on-premises systems”.
Gartner single focus in the technical platform enablement plays the de-stratification of the Open Socio-technical Systems that goes against experimentation, multiplicity and intense social human interaction and important component of Open systems. When designing IT strategy, the peril for the CIO and the IT teams is to overdose the enterprise with integration technology and superpower the enterprise service bus, over-dosing on too much de-stratification decoupled from the new business models and human relationship management of digital banking.
Providing Banking Platform as Service
Exposing the Banking Platform As a Service – BPAaS, allows banking services to talk to other services. In this sense, leveraging on API allows you to open up data and functionality to other developers, to other businesses or even between departments and locations within the bank. It is increasingly the way in which banks exchange data, services and complex resources, both internally, externally with partners, and openly with the public.
BPAaS, can provide a common root so that transactions can flow from wherever they originate: mobile apps, integrations with clients, the client’s website or physical devices. All mapped into a strong ecosystems of partners that repurpose, resell and re-bundle assets to reach new customer segments – like the millennials – that the bank could never have reached alone.
Imagine for example, you want to offer a mortgage service coming from a real estate website or you want to open the possibility to customers subscribe financial products from 3rd party, like Brokers or the case were the bank can outsource loan services to partners keeping costs low. Providing the banking platform allows customers and partners to integrate them as a self-service adapted to their particular needs or bringing the reality of the Bank of Me.
Regulation want banks to embrace open ecosystems
The UK regulator, issued a report  that sates in the remedies section:
“mobile banking tools have been rapidly adopted, and a growing financial technology (‘FinTech’) sector is developing and applying new tools. Application programming interfaces (APIs) will allow publicly available data and customers’ own data to be shared with trusted third parties, and ‘open standard’ APIs can be particularly powerful (with necessary safeguards for security and privacy) in opening up new customer information and advice services.”
CMA states clearly about the importance of:
“development and implementation of an open API banking standard has the greatest potential to transform competition in retail banking markets […] by making it much easier for both personal customers and SMEs to compare what is offered by different banks and by paving the way to the development of new business models offering innovative services to customers.[…] APIs may also be used, with the customer’s informed consent, to share securely their transaction history to enable access to tailored current account comparisons and other services.”
As I pointed before in this post, banks can offer for example, in the retail segment, custom services like automated financial management based on your spending patterns, risk appetite and the phase of your personal life – before entering into labour market, in labour market, retirement – this is just a matter how soon banks want to enter in this new kind of business models before they are expelled from the market.
From a strategic point of view, some banks consider the remedy with a very strong dose or as a threat to their outdated business models. In my experience dealing with CIO’s and CEO’s from different banks is clear that the younger generations are much more prepared or already sparked business model transformation and look to this more as an opportunity. The generational gap – a self-acquired soft skill – can play a key role how the organisation perceives the way forward.
 Unfortunately, due protective measures related with entry in force of the regulation, most countries in European Union delayed the application of the new regulation, meaning that a cargo travelling from Portugal to Germany will only benefit from the electronic act when enters in Germany, meaning that all way down the road the paper document should exist to present to customs and other government authorities. In other terms, the digitalisation of the process is impracticable, an outcome that is still a reality.
 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service, Worldwide, 2016. […] “Integration PaaS delivers some combination of the capabilities typically found in enterprise service buses, data integration tools, B2B gateways, managed file transfer products and API management platforms. IT departments, line-of-business developers, mobile application development teams, application teams and even business users (aka “citizen integrators”) leverage these capabilities to develop, execute and manage integration interfaces (or “integration flows”).”
 Emery, Fred E. “Characteristics of socio-technical systems”, in Design of Jobs: selected readings, Davis, L. E. And Taylor, J.C. (Eds.), Penguin Books, ASIN: B013KQY62S
 Merrelyn Emery “The current version of Emery’s Open System Theory” Systemic Practice and Action Research.
 Application Programming Interface
 CMA – Retail banking market investigation. Summary of final report. August 2016
Today in Lusaka, I was sharing a ride with a literature historian.
We were talking about writing quality and how the publishing industry changed the way we read. Today, books must catch the readers attention in the first chapter or are condemned to be shelved.
During the short interaction, I came up with the idea that I remember during the first season of the TV series Californication, novelist Hank Moody was complaining about writing was changing from books to blogs (it was the era of social 1.0) and how writing quality was decreasing in favor of easy writing, as well as, the lack of depth, what Thierry de Baillon, refers to the lack of sensitivity humans are experiencing in reading come collapsed or compressed text. This is not occurs only in book writing, it also become a pattern in journalism, which journalist echoes what others say, without challenging, questioning or even being able to tell a story. In advisory and research services this is also true like the twitter feed as follows. A company announces a new feature and immediately this becomes a fact without proper verification, suffering from the maven dysfunction like it happen when a new consumer product is rumored or is launched. Fortunately, in the activity stream bellow, the players are all non-believers.
The historian did not concur with my point of view, leveraged on the allusion of the TV series and on her point of view, what was important is the information explosion and ease of access, that allowed people to read and be exposed to new ideas, connect with others and expand the knowledge. She also pointed out, that without social media, hyper connectivity, combined with mobile, self writing agents, would never had a chance to publish a book, because classic book publishers are focused on the business economics.
Despite the fact this is somewhat close to the truth, not only in publishing industry, but also in music industry – think for example what happened with David Bowie’s the Leon Tapes case – is also true that today we are accelerated not to think properly on facts.
Everything is becoming to fast, temporary and instantaneous.
As I am diverting to more complex reading these days, like A Thousand Plateaus, probably because like Hank, I am an analogue person in a digital world, but as Thierry points
We being lead in a world of rising distrust, hate and despair
We are losing assertiveness .
On June 2014, I was at Enterprise Architecture Conference Europe in London to present my work on the theme of cybernetics, called Viable System Model meets Enterprise Architecture. During the preparation of the presentation, I was exposed to the concept of the rhizome, created by two French philosophers, Deleuze and Guattari, designed to bring some random pointers about complexity theory, deeply related with the challenges a cybernetician like to reflect on. The rhizome was brought to life in a book called A Thousand Plateaus, that according to the authors, was written in random mode. Every day, they decide in which part of the book they will work on with no direction, rejecting ‘the law of narrative order’, like Robert Musil’s masterpiece Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (the man without qualities), that by coincidence, was one of my inspirations for the talk at the conference. I bought the book when I was in London but once I buy more books I can read, I only started to read the book these days.
A thousand plateaus is broken down is many directions, that I would like to point only some, as follows:
- Epistemological – how the models we create to understand the reality are fit in terms of meaning, completeness and de-territorialization (what Deleuze and Guattari refer to the true meaning of systems out of context of operation);
- Ontological – how the meaning of concepts evolve in a way they are the result of constant change;
- Anthropological – how human beings are able to interpret signs that will tell about the necessity of change. A theme I explored with Amy Santee in February 2015, when I was in Seattle;
- Social – how individuals can self-organize in a knowledge oriented world, contrary to Kant’s ideas of following the natural order of laws, rules, regulations and procedures.
The emergent self-organization is a matter in focus which is materialized in the concept of chaosmos, that explain the functioning of the universe as a meta-system composed of abstract machines, very well aligned with cybernetic principles. Exciting days are coming.
This is the transcript of my opening act as Chair of the conference. In this edition, the event attracted on average 200 attendees, a breakthrough and important milestone.
This years edition theme is about Digital Transformation. I am not here to bring definitions about what Digital Transformation is. Definitions are, by definition, pretty useless, incomplete and valueless, hence, let me bring you real world examples what digital transformation is all about.
Let’s start by the banking industry
Some banks, there are some good examples just on the other side of the border, are leveraging on the power of Fintechs to expand the value chain. Fintechs are tech startups that are bridging the gaps, for example in trading operations and loan provisioning.
Today some banks are offering real end to end transactions, starting from the manufacturer that wants to collect the money as soon as possible, the transport companies and the manufacturer’s customer that wants to chase and track,
in order to prevent disruption in the supply chain. Today it is possible to share all the documents involved in transaction, that will determine if payment can be processed, broadcast merchandise tracking and predict delivery.
In loans the market is experiencing the loom of new business models like hybrid lending. Imagine your company needs equity and the bank does not to be exposed to risk. The bank can provide you, let’s say, 60% of the required equity and the company trough a network of venture capitalists, or equity firms can get the remaining 40%.
There is also Blockchain. Blockchain is changing the way we execute transactions in a way we do not need banks anymore. You can just wire money to other person. No one needs to have a bank account. Just Imagine the possibilities on how easy it is to process payments.
Let’s shift industry sector, like Oil and Gas or Utilities.
For reasons that I do not understand (I assume it is related with lack of industry knowledge) we constantly read articles in reference magazines about the power of digital business in retail leveraged on big data. Well, let me tell you are being deceived. The real power of big data is in manufacturing, utilities and oil and gas. Let me put you into perspective. People say Portugal have a population of 11 million. In Lagos, in Nigeria, live 25 million people, it fits twice the size of Portugal and some change. Now imagine in countries that produce oil, the thousands and thousands of kilometers of pipelines with thousands and thousands of pumps and other equipment and on each pump you can
control in real time the temperature, the pressure, the velocity, whatever. Now imagine you can predict based on operating conditions when the pump it is going to fail and you can prevent expensive repair cost (just think that most of this equipment is made to order and when it fails, it fails in the middle of nowhere) and the cost of non productive time.
This is what digital business is all about. This drives us to insurgency spot and asset protection. Oil & Gas companies are very keen on militia do not blow up their pipelines.
This leads to the development and implementation a new IT capability, context-awareness, by the realization of a Context Awareness System, a sophisticated surveillance technology solution that aggregates and analyses public safety data in real time, providing security investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity.
To put you on perspective, I need to borrow this quote from Frances Stonor Saunders at a London Review of Books talk.
On the evening of 3rd of October of 2013 a boat carrying more than 500 Eritreans and Somalis founded out the tiny island of Lampedusa, in the darkness, locals mistook the desperate cries for help from the sounds of seagulls, the boat sunk within minutes, survivors were in the water for five hours, some of them close the bodies of the dead
companions at float. Many of 368 people who drowned never made off the capsizing boat and were drowned to the sea floor still on board. Among of the 108 people trapped inside the bow was an Eritrean woman thought to have 20 years old were, as she given birth as she drowned, her waters have been broken in the water, rescue drivers found the dead infant still attached by the umbilical cord
We are facing a dilemma on how cyber-security should be used for. On one hand these systems are used to fight and eliminate terror, protecting innocent lives to be taken, to protect company assets from being attacked and looted by contemporary pirates. We cannot make a so selfish decision about abandon and condemning thousands of refugees to death, because the same kind of Context Awareness System cannot be used in preventing people to die. The political discussion about where the refugees should be steered to Europe of send back to their failed state countries, it not an argument about the responsibility of protecting human life only in the case where terror is being perpetrated, except when people are escaping and running away from the same terror source.
Once upon a time autonomy and anonymity were part of our self.
It is very interesting to analyze from a societal point of view, is how some people are deeply concerned with personal data access from 3rd parties, when such concern does not exist about how a bank account manager can understand our lifestyle just looking to the bank statement entries. Even so, many people are not particularly bothered by what faceless corporations or even governments can learn about them from our own data exhale. However, there is not a black or white resolution because today there are two kinds of people: the ones that have two selfs and the one that have three selfs. The first self is related with our personality, who we are, our outer self is our attitude that changes according to the behavior with whom we interact and our virtual self is a a wishful thinking what we want to be normally expressed in social networks which most of these faceless companies invest every bit of information we broadcast. Still, the lines start to blur when the virtual self blends with our attitude and we start to expose parts of our real behavior and thoughts. And still, you think you are protected, do you? By those smartphones with bio-metric authentication, like the San Bernardino phone John Macfee (from Mcafee anti virus) told he would break the phone for free and would last long. Well, you known how the story ended, the FBI handed over the device to an Israeli company that broke it.
This poses the challenge which is privacy by design. Is this new digital world how do you balance the trade off between learn from what your customers do and how do you protect their privacy. Do we own your data? Our we will give up our privacy and become transparent?
During last week I’ve been working in Nigeria with an Oil & Gas Company on defining an IT Strategy program to move to the cloud. One of the key topics of designing the IT strategy is related with the countries societal impact, that needs to fight with terror, insurgency, wash away corruption and institutionalized informal economy. For those that are not familiar with the country environment, it is commonly accepted under such an inequality standard, you can take loot or steal other’s assets, because the others, cannot live so large and leave so little to the rest of population. Hence, I am helping the organization I am working with to either establish or reengineer security command centres to consolidate their security programs, detect insurgency, theft, improve their risk management and loss of primary containment. Accomplishing these goals requires that the security command centre perform these key IT functions: have access to massive information sources, ingesting and processing such data in real time making sense of it; summarizing and presenting key data in a meaningful way that supports quick and effective responses to events as they happen in real time. To implement these functions, the organization must not only have subject matter expertise in security and a deep partnership with security forces (local law does not allow a company to have private security), but it must also have a technology foundation to support decision management, workflow orchestration, communication and collaboration, and data management and protection―all anchored on a secured hybrid cloud architecture.
The field threat environment continues to grow more dangerous like for example attacking pipelines, stealing crude oil or refined products, creating a twofold challenge for Oil & Gas companies and the Nigerian government. Not only must these organizations continually strengthen their protection of the data and systems they manage, but they also do not face stricter requirements to demonstrate that they have done so in accordance with the appropriate laws, regulations because simply they do not exist or are not properly designed, once the new government that took power on May 2015 is “putting the house in order” dealing with more important matters for the population, like end the fuel scarcity – currently in Nigeria, you need to wait on average 2 to 3 hours to fill up your car’s tank in what is the biggest African oil producer.
Anyway, from an architecture design perspective you need to define the particulars and complements the about data protection and security, among others, setting-up specific rules concerning the processing of personal data in the electronic communication sector – in the context of spotting insurgency, one of the data sources is text messages that the population can send, informing the oil & gas company and the military that there are signals that indicate a possible or the perpetration of an attack, as other approaches like live video surveillance feed is not available. As a result, by default, listening, tapping, storage or other kinds of interception or surveillance of communications and the related traffic data by persons other than users without the consent of the citizen concerned, except when legally authorized, is prohibited. The requirement for prior consent is extended to cover the information stored in users’ terminal, given that users have very sensitive information in their computers, smartphones and similar devices. Nevertheless,
How do you deal with the trade-off of enforcing data privacy and putting the population to abdicate from it for the benefit of the Oil & Gas company?
And from a change management perspective,
How do you convince the population to help you fight asset attacks, in a country where everyone is desperate to make its cut on a non-structured economy?
This is because, contrary of designing an advanced IoT business model, in let’s assume, a supply chain, in which truck drivers are rewarded – with airlines miles or discounts in retail shops- by contributing to fuel consumption decrease and safe driving, such kind of gamification strategy must be adapted to social programs to eradicate poverty, providing social services like education and health car of building basic infrastructures. Such gamification strategy, should part of the illusionary, misguided and wrong doing social responsibility corporate programs, meaning that in the end, it is the Oil & Gas company that must share a part of the profits for the IT Strategy work and be effective.
Enter into cybersecurity
This leads to the development and implementation a new IT capability, context-awareness, by the realization of a Context Awareness System, a sophisticated surveillance technology solution that aggregates and analyses public safety data in real time, providing security investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity. Such a system protects population sensitive information by designing a series of internal security recommended practices and proprietary and advanced security tooling and technologies for monitoring and detecting advanced asset attacks and related intelligence.
This leaves me as an architect with a challenge in my consciousness, and as such, I would like to invoke one of the most magnificent quote from William Shakespeare’s – Macbeth
“Oh, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!”
For that explanation I need to borrow this quote from Frances Stonor Saunders at a London Review of Books talk.
“On the evening of 3rd of October of 2013 a boat carrying more than 500 Eritreans and Somalis founded out the tiny island of Lampedusa, in the darkness, locals mistook the desperate cries for help from the sounds of seagulls, the boat sunk within minutes, survivors were in the water for five hours, some of them close the bodies of the dead companions at float. Many of 368 people who drowned never made off the capsizing boat and were drowned to the sea floor still on board. Among of the 108 people trapped inside the bow was an Eritrean woman thought to have 20 years old were, as she given birth as she drowned, her waters have been broken in the water, rescue drivers found the dead infant still attached by the umbilical cord.”
We are facing a dilemma on how cybersecurity should be used for. On one hand these systems are used to fight and eliminate terror, protecting innocent lives to be taken, to protect company assets from being atacked and looted by contemporary pirates, but one the other hand, like in play, when Macbeth is explaining to his wife about the need to taking life to Banquo, and his son, Fleance, we cannot make a so selfish decision about abandon and condemning thousands of refugees to death, because the same kind of Context Awareness System cannot be used in preventing people to die. The political discussion about where the refugees should be steered to Europe of send back to their failed state countries, it not an argument about the responsibility of protecting human life only in the case where terror is being perpetrated, except when people are escaping and running away from the same terror source.
This something worth thinking about.