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A New Model for the Enterprise

From MIKE2.0 Methodology

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The Scope of Enterprise Information Management

Differing Types of Enterprise Info-Structure (Structured Data)

The scope of Enterprise Information Management is very extensive and covers many different types of information. Across a typical company, overlapping data repositories are accessed by a number of applications. Whereas multiple OLTP systems typically function off proprietary environments, MIS systems operate across an ODS or Data Warehouses serving an Enterprise business unit. Even without the inclusion of unstructured and semi-structured data, this ‘Info-Structure’ makes up a broad range of categories that are shown in the model to the right.

The challenge we face is that this "Info-Structure" is getting more complex over time: our information demands from our existing data assets are continuing to grow, whilst at the same time many organisations are increasing their number of systems, the connectivity between them, the data volumes they hold and their requirements for real-time information. Legacy and new packaged implementations share this trait, which creates the same data across multiple systems at varying levels of representation, quality, and freshness.

A Growing Problem

As technology has moved forward the problem has grown. Moving from the mainframe world where application functionality was always the key driver, integration (through batch) finally became more of a focus in the 70s and 80s. Client/Server technologies were complemented by more real-time integration in 90s, followed by the Internet boom, workflow-driven process automation and ubiquitous mobile computing environments. Whereas information-focused systems and information management technologies and techniques were certainly becoming more and more powerful in the last 30 years, these breakthrough technologies were increasing the information management goals and in many ways driving architectural decisions that made information management more difficult. With the goals of Application Development and Integration not always complementing the goals for Enterprise Information Management, most organisations have an Info-Structure that makes it difficult to get the answers they need, has significant data quality issues and is difficult to manage.

Therefore while the technology focus for the past 30 years has been much more biased toward developing business process and function, infrastructure, and integration capabilities. This imbalanced approach coupled with new technologies has resulted in a proliferation of information to be managed and has created the “information crisis” many organizations find themselves in today.

It’s not to say that people didn’t always think information was important, it’s that information management problems have been worsened through cycles of technology evolutions.

The Scope Increases

Scope of Enterprise Information Management

With all this complexity already underway, the problem starts to get worse in the turn of the century. This is because of the increasing necessity to also manage unstructured content. Unstructured content typically accounts for much larger of volumes of information in organsations and new technologies mean that there are few inhibitors from a storage perspective. Due to its nature it is oftentimes even more difficult to relate across a large organisation.

Having been brought to the forefront with web technologies, new regulations and the need to performs analysis as never before due to new security threats and increased competition, the information explosion is out of the bottle. From corporate fraud to personal protection acts, poor management of unstructured content leads to a number of disasters - for government authorities and the private sector.

A New Way of Viewing the Enterprise

How business users view IT

Solving these issues requires technology, but it needs to be driven from a business perspective. It could be argued that business users know how important it is to have the right data and the real question is whether IT is giving it enough focus, considering:

  • We have more systems and more connectivity than ever before
  • Data quality problems cost companies hundreds of billions in lost revenue
  • Data security problems are some of our biggest organisational threats
  • Customer insight is the key to competition
  • Users want information from the system now
  • New regulations mean there are serious consequences for execs if there are data problems

The MIKE2.0 approach to Enterprise Information Management uses a new model - one that allows us to represent the complexity of Information and Integration and get a complete view of the enterprise. The lynchpin for our approach is complementary views of the Enterprise across the domains of Applications, Infrastructure (including Integration) and Information. The theme of the 3 distinct domains is consistent throughout our approach to Enterprise Information Management, and is reflected across areas such as key staff definitions, organisational structure and technology architecture.

Although there are overlaps in terms of function, technology, and vendor capabilities across these domains, there are distinct areas of responsibility associated with each domain and their implementation is conducted within a separate workstream.

Application Development

Enterprise model for Application Development

Traditionally, the Application Development Domain was thought to consist of primarily OLTP application development and MIS application development. This OLTP application development environment consists of a combination of legacy systems and Commercial Off-the-Shelf packages (COTS), each of which typically has their own custom or proprietary databases; the goal of OLTP application development is to develop applications focused on achieving specific business functionality.

Traditionally, this domain would also include MIS application development. Our model moves development of the information repository and integration capabilities of MIS application development into the new domain of Information Development. MIS analytics and reporting development functions stay within the domain of application development.

Proposing changes to the application development model seems appropriate, considering the complexity of changes in this area over the last 10 years:

  • Off-the-Shelf Enterprise (OLTP) Applications
  • Off-the-Shelf Workflow and Rules Engines
  • Composite Applications (Integration-focused) Applications
  • Business Intelligence (Information-focused) Applications
  • Integrated Applications

As integration becomes more like infrastructure, we believe that composite application development and process-oriented development (workflow) will become more like application development than infrastucture and therefore include this work within the application development domain.

Infrastructure Development

Enterprise model for Infrastructure Development

The Infrastructure Development Domain provides the platforms (hardware, network, operating systems, etc.) to support system software. The Infrastructure Development Domain also includes the technologies that are used to interconnect system processes and data, encompassing migration of data off of legacy systems as well as processes automation and the design of composite application functions. Advanced Infrastructure Development includes bringing together a range of technologies into a unified, Services Oriented Architecture. Newer methods of integration such as Web Services are encompassed within this model, and are merely another mechanism for achieving the integration function.

We are moving towards standardization of all Infrastructure Development: platform infrastructure continues to be commoditized and we are making great advances through SOAs. The goal is to make integration just like platform infrastructure. To do this we make it:

  • Standards Based
  • Well-defined, inventoried and something we can procure on demand
  • Reusable and Reliable
  • Modular
  • Loosely Coupled

This is an area where our greatest advances have come over the last 5 years and data integration is finally moving to a reusable model inline with application integration. Integration is still hard, but its getting easier.

Information Development

Information Development allows organizations to treat information as a strategic asset through their complete supply chain.

  • This approach starts with how information is created, accessed, presented, and used in decision-making.
  • The approach ends with how this information is shared, kept secure, stored, and destroyed.

Information Development is a key concept of the MIKE2.0 Methodology.

The need for Information Development

The concept of Information Development is based on the following premise:

Due to its complexity, we currently lack the methods, technologies and skills to solve our information management challenges.

Many of the techniques in use today are relatively immature and fragmented. What's more, the problems keep getting more difficult to solve. An an example, the amount of unstructured data is proliferating with the rise of blogs, wikis, tweets, and social networking.

The lack of effective information management causes organizations many problems today. The organizations that manage information well are more likely to be successful.

Information Development in Action

Information Sharing in the Public Sector

While it is possible to get there in "small steps", we believe most organizations require transformational change in how they manage information. This is why MIKE2.0 promotes new strategy concepts and continuous improvement. This approach can result in:

  • Collaborative situational awareness - operators in a government agency can understand its threats from a number of asymmetric and real-time sources. As a result, they can quickly make optimal decisions.
  • Next-generation policy development - a policy analyst can make objective, evidence-based decisions on new policy development. Decision making becomes more collaborative, involving colleagues and stakeholders.
  • Conversations with the customer - a bank can engage with customers through online channels, supplemented with rich historical information to address customer needs and wants. This is a significantly enhanced and more efficient.
  • A patient-centric healthcare system - significantly improved efficiency and patient insight. Better sharing of information and longitudinal analysis balances the need for patient confidentiality.
  • Demonstrating and executing an appropriate governance model for all information held by the organization

Information Development in action is something we increasingly see today. Many of the biggest changes have been in government, but it impacts all industries.

A Methodology for Information Development

Enterprise views information development.jpg

Our goal with MIKE2.0 is to provide a methodology, community, and fundamental change in approach to managing information. We don't see any one organization having all the answers. As a result, this methodology has been developed in an open and collaborative fashion. Conceptually, it is a new approach in which information is "developed" on behalf of the Enterprise, supplemented with the data and metadata artifacts produced within the other domains.

The Information Development (ID) approach includes the following areas: 

  • enterprise data repository(ies) development (replacing the silos of MIS Application Development)
  • modelling of data at rest
  • metadata development
  • information access and storage
  • a collection of capabilities involved in the analysis and correction of data

The ultimate objective is to have a virtual organisation in the enterprise responsible for Information Development. As opposed to a single team, everyone has a role to play in managing information. A central team can play a crucial role in driving the transformation and taking many of the key responsibilities.

In the past, ID has not been seen as a separate domain. Rather, it has been coupled tightly to Application Development (AD) and Integration. Decoupling ID from the AD and integration processes does not create extra work. It involves both:

  • putting standards into place for how and when information should be exchanged
  • determining how certain types of information should be captured, presented, and shared.

In summary, Information Development (ID) is about:

  • Enabling people with the right skills to build and manage new information systems while creating a culture of information excellence
  • Moving to new organisational models that delivers an improved Information Management competency
  • Improving processes around information compliance, policies, practices, and measurement
  • Delivering contemporary technology solutions that meet the needs of today’s highly federated organisations

This Information Development approach enables:

  • Real-time synchronisation and transformation of information between systems. This automates integration and promotes reuse across a federated enterprise.
  • The exposure of shadow processes and business rules. These are typically embedded inside application and integration functions as reusable metadata
  • The standardisation of interchange information into a common enterprise format to avoid stovepipe "application-focused" integration
  • Building integrated repositories of information for use by the enterprise as a whole.
  • Improved information quality in a proactive and reusable fashion
  • Flexible access to search across structured, semi-structured, and unstructured content
  • The ability to supply this information in a consistent form to any channel
  • The ability to make fact-based business decisions and drill-down, drill across, and aggregate analytical information
  • The ability to measure both the value of any information asset and the resulting business benefits of its improvement
  • An organisation that is structured in the most efficient manner to deliver information solutions for the business 

We believe this is an approach that must evolve significantly over time and be framework-based as opposed to static in its approach. By virtue of its open and collaborative form, the MIKE2.0 methodology provides a mechanism for creating this new  style of open methodology.

Moving Towards a Solution with MIKE2.0

Scope of Enterprise Information Management (MIKE2.0)

MIKE2.0 provides a methodology for Enterprise Information Management. This means there is some overlap into the Application Development Domain and significant overlap into Infrastructure Development, but it does not completely cover all of these areas. MIKE2.0 includes technology solutions, team structures, key skills sets, and delivery workstreams, encompassing each of these areas.

Although the approach proposed in MIKE2.0 won't provide a "silver bullet" to solving Information Management problems, the leadership team believes its a good start. An Information Development approach can help provide a mechanism to address this very complex problem of managing information and the business processes it supports whilst providing capabilities for dealing with information concepts in ways not possible in the past. This Information Development architecture can pave the way for robust application development and will permit pro-active infrastructure and information access to the Application Development environment. The capabilities it will enable will be complimented by emerging standards in business and technology and will provide a number of flexible paths for the enterprise to move forward in the years to come. Information Development - for the first time - can get ahead of the Application Development curve.

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