Introduction to e-business Architecture
Architecture is an over-used word in technology and business:
- network architecture,
- application architecture,
- new product architecture
But what is architecture and why is it important to clients?
When a marketing person says:
"We want to give a free book to anyone who purchases ten books with us in a year, using our online service."
A developer will say:
"I get it. If order amount = x, then execute free item routine."
But an architect responds:
"I understand. We want value to be given to an entity when an event is triggered."
BroadVision as their main commerce engine
A company may choose BroadVision as their main commerce engine which provides a great deal of functionality off the shelf.
It includes a known set of compatible solution sets that provide for ease of integration while allowing flexibility to implement individual look and feel preferences.
However, by selecting BroadVision the company limits their choices in platform selection and might, depending on their objectives, impose limitations on business functionality.
They might also find that integration and interface requirements with legacy systems are more complex, especially if they have substantial ERP and legacy requirements.
The use of an application server may be a solution for legacy interfaces and integration.
Alternatively, a custom-built solution allows you to build what you want, the way you want but may take longer and be more complex.
An architect would balance out the possible solutions (BroadVision vs. custom) with the company's business objectives, and determine which solution makes the most sense given the specified requirements.
Architecture is about creating environments, not designing systems. Architects create the environment where disparate systems can operate together.
Lower Future operating costs
The extra effort and expense associated with architecture almost always result in lower downstream operation costs.
They also result in greater stakeholder satisfaction over time. In other words, a well-formulated plan results in smoother execution, and a higher quality product.
Brick and Mortar Retailer
Let us say a brick and mortar retailer wants to sell its product via the Web. A Web developer alone could design the site.
But making sure all the various parts work together as a whole is an enormous task.
An architecture and a blueprint increases the likelihood that a solution will meet quality objectives.
Bricks-and-clicks is a business model by which a company integrates both offline (bricks) and online (clicks) presences.
It is also known as click-and-mortar or clicks-and-bricks.
One example of the bricks-and-clicks model is when a chain of stores allows the user to order products online, but lets them pick up their order at a local store (for example, Best Buy).
Conversely, a furniture store may have displays at a local store from which a customer can order an item electronically for delivery to their home.
The bricks and clicks model has typically been used by traditional retailers who have extensive logistics and supply chains.
Part of the reason for its success is that it is far easier for a traditional retailer to establish an online presence than it is for a start-up company to employ a successful pure
"dot com" strategy, or for an online retailer to establish a traditional presence (including a strong
Relevance to KPMG
Companies looking for profitability and growth in the e-Business sector often require high value e-engineering solutions.
Architecture is a process that enables KPMG to differentiate its services.
Terms and Definitions
- Pattern: A pattern is an archetypal interaction, such as stimulus-->response. Natural patterns exist throughout the world, independent but often interconnected to social structures and or business goals.
- Elements: Those atomic parts of a solution that when put together, derive a solution.
The problem might be, "I need to hang a painting." In this situation, the hammer, nail, and the human action of swinging the hammer are elements of the solution (a nicely hung picture).
- Real-world components: Those physical entities that when put together bring about a solution.
- Problem space: The defined area in which an architect works. For example, a painter's problem space would include:
The landscape, her canvas, paints, and brushes. In e-Commerce, the problem space is often large and immensely complicated.
- Form: The layout (map) of how the problem space is organized. For example, a blueprint of a kitchen's layout.
- Function: The activities (function) that occur within a defined problem space (form). For example, the kitchen (form) is laid out in particular way that supports cooking (function).
- Stakeholder: Anyone who has a material interest in the outcome of a solution's implementation.
- Emergent patterns: Those patterns which naturally emerge from the ongoing processes and practices of a system.
For example, a business might find that customers are not using their online banking service because they find it easier to walk into the brick and mortar bank.