In my previous blog post Wanted (or not): new design principles, I referred to the discussions I’ve been engaged in, recently, on whether or not architects need new design principles. In the context of such new design principles, I suggested that we need more and smaller building blocks.
Last month, I had a highly inspiring conversation with a fellow researcher at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. He had just returned from a study trip, during which he had met with executives from the big players of Silicon Valley such as Amazon, Netflix and Facebook. These companies are completely organized around business services. Each business service is owned by a small multi-disciplinary team and are updated continuously. Here, we are talking of hundreds of updated services each day! Flexibility is achieved, because business services are built from other, very small services. Services are published and you can find the one that best fits your needs by searching for relevant data. The team is very much the owner of the technology that they want to use. Standardization is restricted to communication between services. To me, this is how services should be.
An additional advantage of taking to the idea of business services, is the fact that this stimulates designing from the customer perspective. In one of my earlier blogs, I discussed that the customer perspective is becoming increasingly important for architects, but the focus of many architects is mostly on efficiency of internal processes. If architects shift their focus to business services as a starting point for architecture, the customer may finally come into the picture.
All of this fits the shift (please refer to the table below) that we identified in one of our recent architecture discussion sessions:
|Focus is on …||Instead of …|
|Designing services for use (to achieve flexibility and speed)||Reuse|
|Points of contact||Shielding|
|Realizing value for the customer||Internal efficiency|
|Architecting trust into the interaction||Transaction, production and delivery, which are separated|
|Digital value (use)||Digital asset (possession)|