How can companies deal with the digital transformation from an ICT perspective? The research group Intelligent Data Systems (formerly known as Information Systems Architecture) investigates how you can improve the connection between business processes and ICT.
The management of many organizations is closely linked to the application of ICT. But in many organizations, processes, systems and technologies do not match up well, while they are crucial for the company and therefore can not simply be replaced. The use of ICT in organizations often does not lead to sufficient productivity growth, because of this poor connection to the business processes. ICT usually forms the bottleneck when changes are needed. The solution: digital architecture.
What is digital architecture?
In the physical building world it is normal to make a design from an architectural perspective before actually building it. The layout of the physical space (dwellings, roads and such) is in the Netherlands regulated in the Spatial Planning Act. However, for the layout of the virtual space such guidelines and standards are usually missing. Nevertheless, the use of the virtual space also requires guidelines and standards for business processes and the link to the underlying ICT environments.
Digital architecture serves to provide frameworks, principles and guidelines for organizations of the underlying digital information systems. This leads to greater predictability and more quality and acceptance of IT solutions for processes and systems. This is supposed to be flexible, adaptable and tailored for effective use within business processes. ICT can only be used goal-oriented and efficiently if it links perfectly with the business processes. The effectiveness of ICT depends mainly on the level of the digital architecture of the organization.
Effective use of business processes and the associated ICT support, can results in a reduction of IT costs, and an increase in the flexibility and effectiveness of companies to offer new products and services quickly at competitive rates.
Aim research group
The research group for Intelligent Data Systems focuses on building and sharing knowledge around enterprise-, solution- and software architectures within the ICT domain. The research group successfully works with large and small companies throughout the Netherlands. Because of the applied research background, the research group has a practical working method, based on a solid scientific foundation.
The business sector currently has a great need for digital architects (software architects, solution architects), who not only have design competences, but are also capable of integrating different perspectives with each other. In addition to a broad solid substantive basis, the digital architect must also possess many social skills and be able to communicate intelligibly with the client. They must be able to achieve a workable compromise between the wishes of the customer and what is technically possible and desirable.
Enterprise architecture and project architecture are new fields. These disciplines have arisen in practice and have barely penetrated education. The Research Group ADIS is working on the modernization of higher education by training business and IT architects.
Three levels of digital architecture
To be able to classify business and IT architecture, a distinction is made between three levels:
o Enterprise architecture: The business process architecture (i.e. the design of the processes and the information flows) and the ICT architecture (i.e. the architecture of the application landscape and of the infrastructure). You can compare this level with the zoning plan of a specific area.
o Solutions architecture: Relevant guidelines and starting points in the design of a solution for a problem within an organization, both in the area of business and ICT aspects. You can compare this level with the construction of a house.
o Detail architecture: A specific domain in the field of software, infrastructure or business; the architecture of a specific component within the total. You can compare this level with the interior design of a home.
Three research lines
The Research group Intelligent Data Systems has three research lines:
o System Design: Here, we investigate how systems can be designed so that they are maintainable and expandable. In particular, we look at the application and use of new technological developments such as cloud and blockchain. This research line therefore provides the architectural component of the digital transformation.
o Lean IT: This research line is intended to organize both the ICT and the organization in such a way, that changes in the IT landscape can be implemented quickly and efficiently and are derived from the research line usefulness and value of architecture. Here, the developments surrounding the collaboration between management and ICT will be examined. This line of research is therefore more relevant in the context of digital transformation.
o Data Science & Artificial Intelligence: This research line focuses on the technical handling of the increasing amount of data. This research line is anchoring the Open and Big Data theme. An important component of digital transformation is dealing adequately with data and using this data with Artificial Intelligence solutions.
The research group is affiliated with the Dutch Architecture Forum (NAF). The NAF has existed since 2002 and has built up an extensive network of more than fifty users, suppliers and institutes of science and education.
This network aims to promote working with a architecture for the purpose of effective and efficient information provision, integrated into an organization or a product. In addition, there is exchange of contacts and knowledge with the network of the research group Extended Enterprises. Further expansion of the network is currently taking place to include more relevant parties.