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Archive for September, 2010

by: Bsomich
28  Sep  2010

Profile Spotlight: James Taylor

 

James Taylor

James Taylor is CEO and Principal Consultant at Decision Management Solutions and one of the leading experts in decision management and decisioning technologies. James is passionate about using technology to improve decision making and develop smarter systems. He is an active consultant, speaker, blogger and author. He is the lead authorof “Smart (Enough) Systems” (Prentice Hall, 2007), which he wrote with Neil Raden, and has contributed chapters to books on business rules and business intelligence. James was previously a VP at FICO and has over 20 years developing software and solutions for clients.

Connect with James.

Category: Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
27  Sep  2010

The Semantic Web, Part II: The Business Case and Customer Service Implications

In part one of this series, I broached the semantic web and semantic technologies. I described how they differ from Web 1.0 and 2.0. In this second part, I’ll cover:

  • The business case for implementing the semantic web:
  • How to start
  • How the semantic web is affecting customer service

Let’s go.

The Business Case

For any organization to adopt and embrace semantic technologies and the semantic web, a great deal of work is required.  Mitigating against its immediate adoption is the fact that the benefits of the semantic web are long-term in nature. In other words, an organization won’t adopt begin to these technologies and see benefits tomorrow. What’s more, the semantic web is also subject to Metcalfe’s Law which states that networks are exponentially more powerful as more people use them. Naysayers will argue that, until more people embrace the semantic web, its utility will be limited. While not necessarily wrong, this mode of thinking tends to be myopic; just because something isn’t here yet certainly doesn’t mean that it isn’t coming.

With that disclaimer out of the way, there are significant benefits to embracing the semantic web. They include:

  • Increased knowledge
  • Business development
  • Better decisions
  • Access to better information sharing and discovery
  • Superior administration and automation

For more on the specific benefits of the semantic web, click the DevX article here or the W3.org article here. Because these types of projects can be admittedly a bit daunting, it’s easy for some to dismiss their importance, especially in the short-term. Fortunately, there are many tools for enabling the semantic web within any given enterprise, including those within the MIKE2.0 framework.

How to Start

There are so many semantic technologies and so many applications that it’s hard to succinctly write a pithy section on exactly what to do and how to do it. A health care organization trying to enable semantic technologies will face different challenges than a company like technology company such as Twitter. The latter has recently introduced Annotations in an effort to give its tweets more context.

I can say, however, that it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Start small – This is a marathon, not a sprint. Think Agile, not Waterfall.
  • Get familiar with terms – If you haven’t heard of RDFs, metadata, ontologies, and so on, do some research.
  • Clean up your data – In order to data to have meaningful context, it must be accurate. This does not magically disappear with the semantic web.
  • Focus on your ultimate objective – Short-term sacrifices and poor decisions plagued many Enterprise 1.0 projects. I should know. I wrote a book about them. As Stephen Covey says, begin with the end in mind.

What’s more, Twitter’s adoption of semantic technologies will eventually allow tweets to convey a great deal of information, as Matthew Ingram recently wrote on GigaOM. If 140 characters with “going for coffee” can have meaning, then what does that say about health records, customer preferences, and geolocation information?

The Semantic Web and Customer Service

I asked  David Siegel, author of the fascinating book Pull: The Power of the Semantic Web to Transform Your Business, about the impact of the semantic web on customer service. Siegel says:

Over the next ten years, all industries will switch from the vendors making the rules to the customers making the rules. This sounds like marketing-speak, but when your customers hand you a data format and tell you if you don’t switch you’ll lose their account, you may need a neck brace just to keep up with their demands.

Your customers are about to require you to let them move their entire account to another company, or to their own personal data lockers. This is great for companies offering superior value – it will be easy for customers to switch to them. It will be a nightmare for companies with a ‘roach motel’ marketing strategy – your customers will be able to leave in a second. It’s happened to IRAs and some areas of insurance – it’s coming to every service in every business sector. While this sounds disruptive to vendors, it’s really business-continuity for consumers.

Simon Says

Look, adopting semantic technologies is no small endeavor. Know this from the get-go. Rather than just jumping right in, ensure that the internal business case can be effectively made, people understand what’s ahead (from timing, resource, and budgeting standpoints), and sufficient funds are available. What’s more, take advantage of the case studies, examples, and resources already out there.

In the next part of the series, we’ll focus on the semantic web and complementary technologies.

Tags:
Category: Semantic Web
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by: Bsomich
23  Sep  2010

How well are you protecting your enterprise data?

More and more often, you hear stories about information loss: identities stolen, emails lost or destroyed illegally, credit card information compromised, etc.  Depending on the degree of sensitivity, these situations can create a major headache (and in some instances, lawsuits) for individuals, companies and management alike.

It’s important to ask yourself regularly if you and your business are taking the right precautions to protect sensitive information.

At a bare minimum, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do we have an enterprise strategy for protecting sensitive information?
  2. How well is the strategy being executed?  
  3. Who is responsible for its execution and enforcement?
  4. Does this strategy control access to sensitive information within and outside of the company?
  5. Do we know where our sensitive information is at any point in time?

Asking and addressing these key questions can help us better control our sensitive content and prevent the unauthorized access and potential theft or loss of it, resulting in less overall risk to ourselves and our businesses.

Category: Enterprise Data Management
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by: Bsomich
22  Sep  2010

Profile Spotlight: Jill Dyché

 

Jill Dyché

Jill Dyché is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and business consultant. She is partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a professional services firm specializing in enterprise information design and deployment. Jill is responsible for key client work and industry analysis in the areas of data governance, business intelligence, and master data management. Jill has authored three books, and her work has been featured in major publications, including Computerworld, the Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek.com.

Connect with Jill.

Category: Member Profiles
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by: Bsomich
20  Sep  2010

Weekly IM Update.

 logo.jpg

Guiding Principles for the Open Semantic Enterprise 

An open semantic enterprise is an organization that uses the languages and standards of the semantic Web, including RDF, RDFS, OWL, SPARQL and others to integrate existing information assets, using the best practices of linked data and the open world assumption, and targeting knowledge management applications. It does so using some or all of the seven guiding principles noted herein.

These guiding principles do not necessarily mean open data nor open source. The techniques can equivalently be applied to internal, closed, proprietary data and structures. The techniques can themselves be used as a basis for bringing external information into the enterprise.

Feel free to check them out when you have a moment.

Sincerely,

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This Week’s Food for Thought:

Information Governance and Innovation  

Many people think of governance as risk containment and setting limits on data sharing, not realizing that can ultimately be an enabler of innovation. Governance may provide parameters, guidelines and policies that address risks, but it also allows the greatest possible scope for experimentation and value creation.  Governance is a foundational aspect of our offerings at MIKE2.0 and provides a comprehensive approach to increasing competency in how information is managed across organizations.

Read the complete post.

Resource Mistakes, Part IV: Expecting Complete Obedience In this last part of my series on resource mistakes, I’ll take a look at an inherent conflict that plagues many information management (IM) and IT projects. This conflict stems from one simple statement:

The best consultants are not merely order takers–nor should they be.

I’ll let that one sink in for a minute because it tends to rub some people the wrong way. Many people erroneously believe that consultants should always just do what they’re told to do. Clients are paying us good money and, especially in this economy, who has the temerity to say no.

Here are four good reasons that the best consultants will not simply fall in line when a client asks them to do something entirely inappropriate

Read complete post.

Seven Simple Secrets of Enterprise 2.0 Strategy
 
In a previous article, “There is no Enterprise 2.0” I wrote about The Practice of Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Patterns and included these seven simple secrets of Enterprise 2.0 Strategy.  The original article covered several ideas and contained many resources, but I thought sharing this here would be more simple.
Read complete post.

 
 

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If you have any questions, please email us at mike2@openmethodology.org.

Category: Information Development
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by: Phil Simon
20  Sep  2010

The Semantic Web, Customer Service, and the Financial World

Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like deja-vu, all over again.” With regard to new technologies, the same continues to hold true: The technologies themselves might be new, but they are fundamentally addressing old problems. Many of today’s emerging technologies such as cloud computing, SaaS, MDM, and social networks are really attempts to deal with core business issues. These include:

  • Cost
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Data integrity
  • Access to data
  • Network reliability
  • Scale
  • The eternal battle to do more with less
  • And many, many others

One lesser-discussed topic is semantic technologies–at least for the time being. While not on the tips of most people’s tongues quite yet, they are beginning to make inroads in a number of areas. In this five part series, I’ll be covering the semantic web with a particular focus on improving customer service in the financial industry.

  • Part I: Introduction to the Semantic Web (today’s post)
  • Part II: The Semantic Web: The Business Case and Customer Service Implications
  • Part III: The Semantic Web and Complementary Technologies
  • Part IV: A Semantic Web Case Study
  • Part V: How to Leverage the Semantic Web Now

In this part of this series, we’ll answer three main questions:

  • What is the semantic web?
  • How is web 3.0 different than web 2.0
  • What is semantic technology and how is it different than information technology?

What is the semantic web?

You may not be familiar with the semantic web. Six months ago, I sure wasn’t. So let’s get the definition out of the way. According to Wikipedia, it is:

an evolving development of the World Wide Web in which the meaning (semantics) of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to “understand” and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.[1][2] It derives from World Wide Web Consortium director Sir Tim Berners-Lee‘s vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange.

Some have referred to the semantic web as Web 3.0. While perhaps a decade away by some estimates, such as a recent report by Pew Research, thousands of people are working right now on making it a reality.

How is Web 3.0 different than Web 2.0?

Let’s review a little history here. Web 1.0 represented the first incarnation of a GUI-based internet. Note that, as Wired points out, the web and internet are not the same things. Most Web 1.0 sites were glorified brochures with basic, static pages such as contact, about, services, etc. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Web 1.0 was Google’s perfection of basic search.

Enter Web 2.0, the social or two-way web. We’re living it right now. The second incarnation of the web makes it quite easy to connect with others who share similar interests via Facebook and Twitter. It isn’t hard to build user-friendly web sites and even personal social networks with tools such as Ning. In short, Web 2.0 allows us to create a deeper and more meaningful experience than its predecessor.

In Web 3.0 or the semantic web, information will mean the same thing to everybody, irrespective of language or country. In large part, this is possible via the extensive use of tags.

Examples of Web 3.0-ish things available today include:

Via tags, people can more easily find things. Rather than just searching for “rock song” on Pandora, tagging enables people to find “progressive rock songs from the 1970s with odd time signatures and atmospheric feels (read: Pink Floyd).” Alternatively, those searching for photos of a red car on Flickr need not be frustrated because someone used a similar term: red automobile.

What is semantic technology and how is it different than information technology?

Traditional information technology requires predefined information about meanings and relationships. Two disparate systems or tables cannot talk to each other. On the other hand, semantic technology encodes meanings separately from data and content files, and separately from application code. Different applications based upon semantic technology can talk to each other more seamlessly primarily because of their extensive use of metadata (data about data).

Of course, an enterprise cannot merely decide to “go semantic.” A great deal of work needs to be performed on a number of levels in order for an organization to realize the benefits of semantic technology. Fortunately, MIKE2.0 provides guidance. Its Semantic Enterprise Solution Offering provides a layer for the enterprise to establish coherence, consistency, and interoperability across its information assets. Applicable information assets may range fully from structured to unstructured (text and document) sources. The methodology of this Offering is

  • inherently incremental
  • layered onto existing capabilities and resources
  • flexible to accommodate expansions in scope, new learning, and changes the continuum

Simon Says

The semantic web is huge, although its widespread adoption is not happening anytime soon. In future parts of the series, we’ll cover specific applications of the semantic web to customer service and the financial industry.

Tags: , ,
Category: Enterprise Data Management, Semantic Web
3 Comments »

by: Robert.hillard
19  Sep  2010

Should Finance be the Information Czar?

Imagine if modern accounting was an invention of the past decade.  Given the heavy use of computer technology, it’s very likely that the entire discipline would be regarded as part of Information Technology.

Now consider the amount of non-ledger information that your company uses.  Business leaders are rapidly changing their view of information from seeing it as a tool to monitor their business to thinking of it as being the business.  Information exists in every product, service and activity in every corner of your business. It is stored in documents, databases, spreadsheets, applications and the heads of the staff who run the business. It is potentially one of, if not the, largest asset held by many organisations.

The trouble is, this quantity of information has only appeared in a little over a decade and has been entirely enabled as a result of new computer technology.  No wonder many businesses treat information as a problem for the Information Technology (IT) department to sort out.  But is that really the right part of the business to drive strategic decisions?

CIO, CDO, CFO, COO who really owns the data?

Most Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have ambitions of making the “I” in their title more than just an aspiration, but there is a strong argument that such a change is actually too much of a change from the facilities and operational management that makes up 90% of their job function.

Internationally, many organisations have introduced the concept of a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to take responsibility for non-ledger data across the enterprise.  The CDO typically doesn’t sit in IT, but rather has an operational alignment.  Most organisations that have implemented a CDO position have done so as a way of putting governance over data and compliance activities, the most common of which has been Basel II risk activities in banks worldwide.  Like their IT cousins, the CDO may find it a substantial stretch to move from an operations role to elevating information to an executive topic.

That leaves two “big table” roles: the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Operating Officer.  Depending on personalities both have the ability to leverage the huge mass of information held.

The argument for CFO information leadership

With the growth of information have also come advances in Information Management techniques.  Most practitioners agree that successful organisations leverage the principles of Information Economics and monetise information in a way that drives positive behaviours.

With lines of business being measured by individual ledgers, it is important that the information asset that they hold on behalf of the company is reflected both on the balance sheet but also in the transactions that they perform.  It is only in this way that organisations can really reward and encourage the sharing of customer, product or other information in a way that benefits the whole business.

Just as importantly, this linkage helps drive a reconciliation of non-ledger data with items that are more traditionally governed to the satisfaction of the board.  As more non-ledger data finds its way into external reporting, this is becoming critical.  Businesses only need to consider carbon reporting to understand the importance of combining ledger and non-ledger data.

With such a close tie between the good management of information and the processes used to measure the financial health of the business, it may make sense in many organisations to apply the same disciplines and extend the capabilities of the finance team.

Category: Information Governance
1 Comment »

by: Bsomich
16  Sep  2010

Information Governance and Innovation

Many people think of governance as risk containment and setting limits on data sharing, not realizing that can ultimately be an enabler of innovation. Governance may provide parameters, guidelines and policies that address risks, but it also allows the greatest possible scope for experimentation and value creation.  Governance is a foundational aspect of our offerings at MIKE2.0 and provides a comprehensive approach to increasing competency in how information is managed across organizations. Have you implemented any recent projects that employed a strategy around governance?  Please share with us.

Category: Information Development
1 Comment »

by: Bsomich
15  Sep  2010

Profile Spotlight: Steve Miller

Steve Miller

Steve Miller is co-founder of a Chicago-based business intelligence (BI) services firm OpenBI, LLC, that specializes in delivering analytic solutions with both open source and commercial technologies. Miller has more than 30 years of experience in intelligence and analytics, having migrated from health care program evaluation, to database consulting with Oracle Corporation, to running a fast-growing BI services business at Braun Consulting. Advances in technology over that time have fundamentally enabled the use of quantitative methods for business differentiation. OpenBI, LLC, is all about helping customers attain that differentiation. Steve blogs frequently on Stats Man’s Corner at miller.openbi.com.

Connect with Steve.

Category: Member Profiles
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by: Phil Simon
13  Sep  2010

Resource Mistakes, Part IV: Expecting Complete Obedience

In this last part of my series on resource mistakes, I’ll take a look at an inherent conflict that plagues many information management (IM) and IT projects. This conflict stems from one simple statement:
The best consultants are not merely order takers–nor should they be.

I’ll let that one sink in for a minute because it tends to rub some people the wrong way. Many  people erroneously believe that consultants should always just do what they’re told to do. Clients are paying us good money and, especially in this economy, who has the temerity to say no.

Here are four good reasons that the best consultants will not simply fall in line when a client asks them to do something entirely inappropriate:

  • Legal
  • Ethical
  • Financial
  • Reputational

Let’s explore each.

Legal

Most consultants carry errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, defined as “business liability insurance for professionals such as insurance agents, real estate agents and brokers, architects, third party administrators and other business professionals.” While E&O contracts do not define the explicit tasks that a consultant can and cannot do on any particular gig, most have some type of limits. In other words, consultants don’t have carte blanche to perform whatever task they–or their clients–deem appropriate. I personally have never had to show a copy of an E&O contract to a client, but I have refused to delete production data without a formal request because of it.

Ethical

Forget for a minute about what consultants are legally allowed to do. Let’s talk about what they should and shouldn’t do. I have no problem with coming in to save the day, as I have done more than a few times in my consulting career. I enjoy solving problems. But there are limits to what I–and other conscientious consultants–feel comfortable doing. I can think of an instance in which an end-user intentionally purged hundreds of thousands of financial records in a system–sans permission. He intimated to me that he wanted to get them back without letting others know. While this wasn’t possible, that was beside the point: others may have run reports based on incomplete information and I would have felt compelled to let those potentially affected know.

Financial

Consultants are always worried about billing. We don’t run hedge funds; we’re always chasing the money. Rare is the client that always pays on time. Consultants who continue to do questionable things for particular end-users significantly increase their risk of not being paid, especially if and when a senior executive finds out what’s been going on. Of course, the consultant can always say, “I was following orders.” That may or may not fly but, to many, it’s just not worth the risk.

Reputational

Finally and perhaps most important, consultants’ reputations are their currency. For any one of us, it only takes on dissatisfied client to mar an otherwise impeccable track record. While these fleas come with the dog, a consultant forced to do unnatural things on a high-profile disaster will always be associated with that project. Based upon my experience, it’s rare that an end-user will say something along the lines of, “Our project failed miserably, but it had everything to do with us and nothing at all to do with the consultants. Our bad.”

Simon Says

Look, no one is advocating outright defiance because a consultant just doesn’t feel like doing something entirely reasonable. But expecting consultants to walk off a plank is an enormous mistake. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “You want us on that wall. You need us on that wall.”

Feedback

What say you?

Tags:
Category: Enterprise Data Management, Information Development, Information Management
2 Comments »

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