Enterprise Architecture erwin Expert Blog

5G Roadmap: Preparing Your Enterprise Architecture

Why planning your 5G roadmap requires significant input from enterprise architects

5G is coming and bringing with it the promise to transform any industry. And while the focus has been on the benefits to consumers,  the effects on the enterprise are far-reaching.

Few examples of emerging technology have the potential to disrupt and downright revolutionize certain markets and processes than 5G.

For enterprise architects, it’s important to understand how a potentially disruptive emerging technology like 5G might be incorporated into an organization, in advance.

A 5G roadmap could be the difference between such disruptions being an obstruction or an opportunity.

As with any emerging technology,  organizations need to test and pilot their projects to answer some important questions before going into production:

  • How do these technologies disrupt?
  • How do they provide value?

While the transition from 3G to 4G wasn’t all that eventful – or all that long ago – 5G is expected to buck the trend.

But how exactly?

5G: What to expect

5G promises dramatically faster download and upload speeds and reduced latency.

For context, average 4G speeds peak at around 45 Mbps (megabits per second); the industry goal is to hit 1 Gb (gigabit per second = 1,000 Mbps).

Telecom company Qualcomm believes real-world applications of 5G could be 10 to 20 times faster than that.

For consumers, this will mean dramatically faster downloads and uploads. Currently, downloading a two-hour movie takes around six  minutes on 4G. A 5G connection would achieve the same in just 3.6 seconds.

Organizations will, of course, enjoy the same benefits but will be burdened by the need to manage new levels of data, starting with telecommunications companies (telcos).

5G – A disruptive force vs. a catalyst for disruption

Usually, when we think of emerging disruptive technologies, the technology (or process, product, etc.) itself is the primary cause of the disruption.

With 5G, that’s still somewhat true. At least for telcos …

For example, 5G-driven disruption is forcing telecommunications companies to upgrade their infrastructure to cope with new volumes and velocities of data.

On a base level, these higher data volumes and velocities will be attributable to the fact that by making something happen faster, more of it can happen in a shorter amount of time.

But the increase in data speeds will be a catalyst for products and services that are currently not feasible becoming completely viable in the near future.

Of course, enterprise architecture is already integral to organizations with Internet of Things (IoT) devices in their portfolios.

5G enterprise architecture roadmap

But companies involved in internet-connected product market, as well as telcos, will need a 5G roadmap to ensure their enterprise architectures can cope with the additional data burden.

In addition to faster connection speeds, 5G will grant telcos more control over networks.

One such example of this control is the potential for network slicing, whereby multiple virtual networks can be generated within one physical 5G network, in turn allowing greater control of the service provided.

For example, self-driving cars would benefit from a network slice that offered exceptionally fast, low-latency connections to better accommodate their real-time data processing and transmitting needs.

Such a set up would go to waste for less-interactive, internet-connected devices. A smart fridge for example, could make do with far slower connection speeds.

This would mean telecommunications companies would start to look more like public-cloud providers and offer scalable services to their user bases.

However, realizing this potential would require more agile-oriented infrastructures than telcos typically have – which will of course require further input from enterprise architects to encourage an efficient implementation.

Another red pin to account for on the 5G roadmap.

So the answer to “Is 5G a disruptive force in and of itself, or is it a catalyst for disruption?” is actually … well, both. With telcos directly impacted by 5G disruption, and IoT product/service providers and digital business on the whole being disrupted by what 5G ultimately enables.

What does this mean for enterprise architects?

As addressed above, many of the business benefits of 5G are directly tied to increasing the amount of data that can be transferred at one time.

This presents a number of challenges for enterprise architects going forward.

As well as the increased volume of data itself, enterprise architects will need to prepare for faster times to market.

Radically improved data transfer speeds will encourage more agile product rollouts and updates, especially in connected devices that will feedback data insights about their performance.

The reduced latency will likely lead to a new influx of remote working, collaboration- enabling tools as well as products and services currently unaccounted for. Organizations with more agile enterprise architectures will be better placed to implement these smoothly when the time comes.

To better understand how your organization can prepare for 5G by adopting an agile enterprise architecture approach, click here.

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Mind the Gap: Aligning Business and IT

Aligning business and IT is a serious goal for modern organizations. The rapid pace of technological innovation requires the introduction of new tools and processes to cope.

The importance of business and IT alignment is widely understood and  reflected in the concept’s prevalence in IT-maturity and best-practice conversations. What’s less understood is the substance:  what does “aligning business and IT” really mean and how do organizations make it a reality.

Aligning Business and IT: Collaboration

All together now … strength in unity

To understand and solve any problem, we need to uncover the source.

Broadly speaking, experience tells us that the lack of business and IT alignment is a cultural issue on both sides of the equation. IT teams that classify and treat projects as “IT projects” instead of “business projects” demonstrate the IT cultural bias, as does  referring to a project as an “IT project,” which isolates it from the wider business from the start, making it easy for IT to lose sight of the desired business outcome.

In the end, there is no such thing as just an IT project as all projects should aim to improve the business as a whole.

But cultural issues aren’t easy to overcome. They require a shift in employee mindset, which in turn requires strong leadership. This means IT leadership educating IT teams about  the business strategy behind every project and continuously reinforcing it until that approach becomes second nature.

Today’s IT leader must be a business leader first and a technical specialist second.  Organizations with this type of IT leadership will be in a better position, with business and IT alignment already prioritized, automatic and systemic.

The three best practices for aligning business and IT

1. Understand business strategy and objectives

A business strategy is the vision an enterprise is trying to realize, while objectives are the steps it takes to achieve it. Every department needs to understand  the organization’s strategy and objectives and what will be required  to accomplish them. Then every department and every employee is working toward the same goals.

For IT, business strategy and objectives always should factor into how projects are prioritized and planned.

2. Know your capabilities and map them to enterprise needs to identify gaps

First, you need to understand your current IT environment and the capabilities you have so you can  map them to enterprise requirements. Enterprise architecture enables this understanding with an assessment of the “current state,” including assets at the organization’s disposal and the connections between them. Then you can map the current-state enterprise architecture to business goals, identifying the gaps between the current state and the desired “future state.”

IT’s goal then becomes helping the organization achieve the future state so its goals can be achieved.

3. Use a structured approach to prioritize investments 

An easily understood, repeatable process supported by the appropriate technology provides a rigorous and systematic approach to IT strategy development and delivery. While employing a hodgepodge of tools that work poorly with one another – or not at all – will grind progress to a halt.

A comprehensive data management suite with collaborative features circumvents this issue, so organizations suffer less false starts when attempting to introduce change.

Collaboration ensures mission-critical information is discussed within a business context so IT plans can be implemented with greater understanding and less push-back.

Automatic Cohesion

The ultimate state – current and future – is one in which IT and the enterprise aren’t just aligned; they’ve become one and the same.

The business drives IT, and IT enables or powers the enterprise. In modern enterprises meeting and exceeding customer expectations, IT folks not only “get” the business, they “are” the business.

Sandhill’s Jog Raj will explore aligning business and IT further in a FREE WEBINAR on November 13. Register now.

Mind the Gap: Aligning Business and IT Webinar