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Archive for November, 2007

by: Robert.hillard
17  Nov  2007

Facebook as a CDI

It’s been a lucrative five years for consultants in information management with new work being as easy to win as saying the word “compliance”.  Executives are more than willing to sign-up new consulting engagements based the need to meet their compliance and regulatory requirements.  The trouble is, this type of information management engagement breeds a defensive rather than a confident enterprise.

A defensive organization believes that data needs to be locked-down, that risks need to be taken out and the analysis resulting from any dataset should be predictable.  Of course, any regular reader of this blog would know that we view data contained in large enterprises as complex and displaying all of the attributes of chaos mathematics which means any attempt to remove surprises from data is a fruitless endeavor.

A confident organization, on the other hand, recognizes that data is complex and chaotic but seeks to gain benefit from that complexity.  Rather than be afraid of randomness, they use the techniques of MIKE2.0 to identify the risks and then focus on monitoring and measuring.  In general, I observe a strong correlation between the confident enterprise and the adoption of Web 2.0 techniques and principles.  The confident organization believes that there is more value in collaboration and is willing to sponsor individual innovation.

A good example of why this is so important can be seen in social networking sites such as Facebook.  With the rapid growth in their use by a new generation of consumers, service providers ranging from telecommunication and financial services right through to government, need to come to grips with both the technology and the cultural drivers behind them.  Consumers are becoming more confident in sharing quite detailed information about themselves in a way that they expect others to pick-up.  Increasingly it will make no sense for providers to ask individuals to provide data about their relationships, locale or other details when those are already available in the public web.

In fact, one of the reasons why Facebook is so powerful is its ability to interface into custom applications.  Imagine the impact if you wanted to sell these consumers a new financial or telecommunications product and you made it possible to apply online from within Facebook!  More importantly, you can give the individual a sense of control by allowing them to privately share critical information with you and then maintain it in a form with which they are comfortable – perhaps for a multitude of providers.

Obviously there are challenges in this type of initiative, but good use of data measurement, reconciliation and parsing approaches allow it to be done.  The question is whether your enterprise has even considered whether it’s worth doing?  You can bet it won’t be long before your competitors do!

Tags: , ,
Category: Enterprise2.0, Master Data Management, MIKE2.0, Web2.0
8 Comments »

by: Robert.hillard
05  Nov  2007

Getting the benefit out of compliance

I recently participated in a podcast to talk about why I’m involved in MIKE2.0 and how information can be turned to a company’s advantage.  In summary, too many organizations are only looking at information from a defensive perspective with a focus on compliance.

Compliance in general, and for many organizations, Sarbanes-Oxley in particular, are topics that get a lot of management attention.  The core of the work is to define business processes and to identify control points.  When I look at the results from most companies, I see vast quantities of process documentation, often in Microsoft Visio, which has been printed into fat binders and placed on the shelf.  Compliance achieved!

You don’t need me to tell you about the benefits of living documents.  Any analysis which sits on the shelf is out-of-date before it is even printed.  There have been many discussions about engineering systems on the back of the process documentation, however few approaches have been truly successful as inevitably there is a separation of some kind between the applications to run the process and the documentation.

I, my colleagues, and most people involved in MIKE2.0 advocate a different approach.  Start by looking at the way you measure compliance, which is looking at the data which comes out of each control point.  If the data is complete then the navigation between control points is actually of much less consequence (different people do their jobs differently).

When we take this data-driven approach, we also find that a complete analysis of control points also generally shows that the most valuable information held by the company is general identified.  It should come as no surprise that controls provide a live feed of business crucial activities – Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)!  Now we can support multiple applications providing the same data, but doing it in different ways (often this corresponds to product systems) and we can free-up business units to find creative ways to achieve the best possible business outcome.

The key to doing this successfully is to take an Information Development approach.  If governance and business supervision focuses on the outcomes (measured through the control point data) rather than process steps then the company is generally more agile, able to integrate new business units more rapidly and is staffed by empowered executives.

I recently attended IBM’s Information On Demand conference in Las Vegas, including meeting with IBM’s Information Management CTO, Anant Jhingran.  Anant and IBM understand the necessity of separating the content away from the application, I suspect this is why they are happy to stay out of the application space and why they are so supportive of SOA, specialist XML vendors and other forms of open communities.

Two of these XML vendors that I find particularly interesting in this context, because of their support of this “ecosystem” style of approach, are JustSystems and CoreFiling.

JustSystems, who have perhaps been known in the past as a Japanese “office” software company, have made a major push in the XML space with products like xfy which allows organizations to build process flows and dynamic datasets without having to build the full system.  We find this attractive as it supports the Information Development approach of allowing prototyping focused on the content, then building a process, providing a content test platform and then (in production) providing a place to review content and manage content irrespective of the application that manages the process flow.

CoreFiling have been one of the early XBRL providers.  XBRL is the emerging business reporting XML standard and is gaining rapid acceptance (particularly with regulators, hence its attraction to organizations with significant compliance obligations).  CoreFiling provide products, such as SpiderMonkey which will supports the dynamic development of metadata (or taxonomies) across multiple applications and user groups, which is critical if the Information Development philosophy is to scale beyond small workgroups.

Tags: , ,
Category: MIKE2.0
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