Hidden beneath the waves of chaos is a tapestry of synchronicity and our challenge is to ride the waves of chaos with purpose, trust, and agility allowing everything in its time to unfold and harmonize.
Digital disruption is blurring the lines between traditional industries. Most of the markets are being dramatically reshaped as agile new entrants (for example: Fintech, Startup, niche Cloud borne companies) are putting increasingly empowered customers in control and realizing the benefits of these new business models.
Numorpho Cybernetic Systems is in the business of leveraging the network effect of strategic partnerships to build a powerful ecosystem to advance digital transformation, encourage collaboration, and deliver meaningful outcomes to customers.
“Digital drives Physical” is our mantra for the Digital Twine, our process automation framework that provides a synthetic fabric for cyber-physical systems in an enterprise. This would fulfill the goals of Industry 4.0 to harmonize and optimize activities to build next generation products and systems.
Feynman diagrams have revolutionized nearly every aspect of theoretical physics. While the diagrams are applied primarily to quantum field theory, they can also be used in other fields, such as solid-state theory. In this thesis, we will showcase how we use a similar interaction model to depict processes in an industrial setting to enable understanding and optimization of activities upstream, midstream, and downstream.
In this article, we will define a precise enterprise reference architecture by utilizing tenets from Physics (Feynman Diagrams) to represent the interactions between the different enterprise streams in relation to Conway’s Law. We will then utilize this model to blueprint several use cases for brown-field, green-field and blue-sky initiatives to enable future enterprise ecosystems to be constantly aware, nimble, proactive, and resilient to changes in internal and external forces and conditions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- OUR APPROACH
- WHAT IS A REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE?
- DIGITAL THREADS AND DIGITAL TWINS
- THE DIGITAL TWINE
- ELEMENTS OF THE DIGITAL TWINE
- INDUSTRY 4.0 INITIATIVES
Over the past 20 years the relationship between hardware, software and data has changed dramatically. The consequences for businesses have too. The simplicity of hardware, software, and a tiny sliver of data in the middle, contained within a single system in a large box, is unrecognizable by today’s paradigm. Those changes began around 2000, as we entered the era of VMWare, hypervisors, and early cloud.
When enterprises started focusing on software, the role of hardware started to shrink. While this gave rise to DevOps, software and data still existed together as a single unit. In the past five years, what started as an evolutionary change took a huge step.
Today hardware is no longer at the forefront of any conversations. And the handful of big blobs of software that enterprises invested in have been atomized into hundreds of smaller, highly complex, agile applications, systems and even microservices in the cloud. This splintered application landscape recharged the integration market and drove massive adoption of iPaaS – Integration Platform-as-a-Service – to easily reconnect key workflows and processes.
To put this in perspective:
- Digitization is touching every aspect of the business
- Tech transformation is Holistic not Atomistic
- We need to scale beyond Asset Management to Proactive Interactions
- Digitalization will enable Innovation and Disruption
- Personalized requirements and targeted marketing are key
- Custom products and solutions are what customers want today – One Size does not fit all
To prepare for the future, executives should keep in mind that Industry 4.0 is not just about the production process, it’s about the entire operating model, with technology used only where it matters. For true digital transformation to have a measurable impact, activating Industry 4.0 technology across the broader organization is vital, no matter where organizations are on their digital journey.
The structure of any system designed by an organization is isomorphic to the structure of the organization. If the parts of an organization (e.g., teams, departments, or subdivisions) do not closely reflect the essential parts of the product, or if the relationships between organizations do not reflect the relationships between product parts, then the project will be in trouble … Therefore, we need to make sure the organization is compatible with the product architecture. This is the premise of Conway’s Law that states:
Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.
— Melvin E. Conway
Conway’s Law is based on the reasoning that in order for a product to function, the authors and designers of its component parts must communicate with each other in order to ensure compatibility between the components. Therefore, the technical structure of a system will reflect the social boundaries of the organizations that produced it, across which communication is more difficult. In colloquial terms, it means complex products end up “shaped like” the organizational structure they are designed in or designed for.
The study of physics is essential for knowing the world around us. It helps us to understand the behavior of matter and energy, and the interactions between them. Physics is also essential for the development of new technologies, such as computers, lasers, and nuclear power. Similarly, there is need to define a precise reference architecture to detail the different processes of an enterprise to understand and manage its proper functioning and enable the solutioning of products and services.
With emergent technologies, like AI/ML, blockchain, Quantum Computing and Augmented Reality techniques (these have been discussed in our paper in DARQ Matters) being the key drivers and differentiators for current and future interactions between people, process and technologies, there is a need for a holistic representation of all parts of the enterprise.
An enterprise is an aggregation of people, processes and platforms (the 3 Ps) that come together to provide for the basis for the company. As shown in the diagram below:
- Up-stream processes are for product development where innovation, ideation and design thinking are key to come up with the concepts and build the prototypes.
- Mid-stream processes enable the progression from prototypes to production units by coordinating procurement and manufacturing utilizing logistics both within the shop floor, and supply chain and transportation considerations.
- Down-stream processes that coordinate support and maintenance, sales, and marketing, and other customer enablement and clienteling needs.
Knitting the cybernetic fabric entails creating an end-to-end ecosystem of coordinating processes whilst ensuring security to facilitate the product pipeline. Part of the interaction takes place through physical production (the operational domain), and the other part of it is in the digital world (the information processing domain) wherein data and information related to the operational activities need to be stored, secured, represented, and utilized. It is this mélange between OT and IT that needs to be correctly ascertained for optimization and harmonization of processes, and to enable the creation of truly disruptive products and services.
We need to ensure that:
- the relationship between Inside-Outside services namely digitization and digitalization, IIoT and IoT, OT vs IT and upstream-midstream-downstream need to be correctly articulated to manage enterprise processes. Brown-field, Green-field and Blue-sky initiatives need to have the correct basis to enable synthesis and reduce technical debt to be able to enable re-engineering, innovation, and/or disruption.
- Linked Solutioning to integrate systems and tools from platform and solution providers, tool vendors, engineering services, and customer interactions need to be correctly themed.
- The processes for Make, Manage, Move, Market and Maintain will also need to be articulated for enabling hyper automation for the connected systems and technologies.
- Actionable Intelligence needs to be correctly trained and articulated for enabling the proper coordination between the physical and the digital systems.
We will start by detailing a reference architecture for Industry and Services 5.0 based on the Digital TwineTM defined by Numorpho Cybernetic Systems (NUMO). This will be a combination of digital threads and digital twins for future-proofing the enterprise that will enable holistic blueprinting of systems and processes. It will enable enterprises to monitor, control and optimize processes, products, and assets by integrating data from disparate sources and disparate systems to automate activities and render real time actionable insights. This is necessary to build smart and connected products advancing current techniques and utilizing the emergent technologies of DARQ. Several pertinent use cases will also be discussed, wherein we will detail dynamic roadmaps to blueprint the interactions to evolve the solution.
WHAT IS A REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE
“The reference architecture provides a common language for the description of the system, and a framework for the development of new designs.”
The enterprise is an ecosystem of systems that must be able to constantly adapt to changes in the internal and external environment in order to survive and thrive. The enterprise must be able to sense changes in the environment, identify the impact of those changes, and then take the appropriate actions to mitigate or eliminate the impact. This requires the enterprise to have a clear understanding of its own structure and function, as well as the structure and function of the external environment.
A reference architecture is a set of principles and guidelines for the design of an enterprise system. It provides a common language for the description of the systems, and a framework for the development of new designs. The reference architecture is not a specific design, but rather a set of general principles that can be applied to any specific design.
DIGITAL THREADS AND DIGITAL TWINS
Digital threads describe the data that is collected about an entity, asset, or process as it moves through the enterprise. The digital thread describes the data elements, their relationships and how they change over time.
Digital twins are near-real-time digital manifestations of physical entities that capture the data from the digital thread and use it to provide a real-time view of the state of the product or application.
The Digital Twine is a new way of managing the product’s genesis. It is a strategy of thinking about and treating the end-to-end production process as a singular entity – an ecosystem of cooperating, self-organizing entities that are secure and make the systems work in coordination. It is an endeavor to design a platform for the ecosystem of production, linking people, organizations, data, processes, and machines in the new paradigm utilizing digital technologies, cloud provisioning and distributed computing in the same way the Internet was a new way of thinking about the exchange of information.
We propose the Digital TwineTM as a fusion of the Internet of Things, Blockchain and other emerging technologies with a production ecosystem in a Cyber-Physical environment. By showcasing its adaptability to different domains, we will prove that it is not bound to any specific industry but can be extended and adapted to varied situations. It is a model for thinking about the production process in a new way.
The Digital Twine model has five key components:
- Data: Data is the foundation of the Digital Twine. Data is collected from disparate sources and disparate systems and is integrated into a single view.
- Processes: Processes are the set of activities that are performed on data. Processes can be manual or automated.
- Rules: Rules are the set of conditions that must be met in order for a process to be executed.
- Actions: Actions are the set of activities that are performed on data in order to achieve a specific goal. Actions can be manual or automated.
- Twine Aggregator: The twine aggregator is a software component that aggregates digital threads and digital twins into a holistic representation. The twine aggregator enables enterprises to monitor, control and optimize processes, products, and assets.
We define the Digital Twine by looking at upstream, midstream, and downstream activities in a typical product development automation sequence that provides for make, manage, move, market, and maintain products and solutions.
The diagram below depicts these streams that are layered by digital, core and physical entities that need to be coordinated for harmonizing and optimizing the processes in typical Industry and Services 5.0 end-to-end.
- A brown-field initiative is an initiative that is designed to improve the performance of an existing system by retrofitting.
- A green-field initiative is an initiative that is designed to create a new system from scratch by lifting and shifting from old archaic systems to new technologies.
- A blue-sky initiative is an initiative that is designed to explore the potential of a new technology by disrupt existing ways of doing things.
The start of each use case depicts the basis vectors (the why), the key needs of progressing thru the blueprint by selecting one/many initial value driver streams and then interconnecting it with information from other streams.
Albeit, the dynamic creation suggests an order of solution progression, most implementations will have parallel initiatives that will drive outcomes from these streams that would need to be coordinated. The goal of the blueprint is to holistically show the touchpoints so that interactions between people, processes and platforms can be correctly ascertained.
Blueprints are the final outcome of a themed understanding of the needs for the initiative. Each Digital Twine blueprint has a unique ledger number (unique digital “objects” that are stored on a blockchain) associated with it that corresponds to its build sequence and enables its detailed composition and interaction between systems to form the basis for articulating the needs of the use case.
Here are some of the examples of use cases we have implemented.
UC02 – Dynamic Lift and Shift Migration of an ERP System from on-prem to cloud (this was a 8-month project that I was involved with for Georgia Pacific – paper manufacturer, a Koch Bros company that invested in a new ERP called Infor M3)
UC05 – Applied Financial Services – These are several projects that I did for Global Wealth Management at JPMC, The Northern Trust, Bank 0f America and American Express
UC06 – Life Sciences and Health Care – These are an aggregation of projects that I did at Thermo-Fisher, Invitrogen and Sigma-Aldrich
UC07 – Balanced Supply Chain – This is mostly related to what we plan to do at the DoD funded org MxD, my talks with a VC company (RefashionD) in this field, and experience with CNHI, the tractor and industrial equipment company and the 3PL work at Libbey Glass
The Digital TwineTM platform enables enterprises to monitor, control and optimize their processes, products, and assets by integrating data from disparate sources and disparate systems. It provides a single view of the data that is collected about the activity as it moves through the enterprise. The platform enables enterprises to monitor, control and optimize by integrating data from disparate sources and disparate systems.
- Knitting the Cybernetic Fabric
- Future Engineering
- The Hard Problem of Automation
- Digital Twine Use Cases
NI+IN UCHIL Founder, CEO & Technical Evangelist
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