Ontologies are the Esperanto for the Babel Fish of the 21st Century (part 04)


Business Drivers

All systems, in the final analysis, are about the movement of data (transaction) from agent A to agent B (possibly via N other agents) and any transformations in between necessary for the various agents to interpret the data (message) received, and carry out any appropriate operations pertinent to agent as a service to other agents. It is the transformation and interpretation of data that is one of the greatest overheads in that transaction. Ontologies are key to reducing to a minimum the need for data transformation and interpretation when distributed between systems and thus aid in systems integration. But they also have many other (technical and non technical) advantages that will be explored in more detail throughout this article.Several industry verticals already have developed or are working on industry vertical ontology’s. As the value chain fragments and diversifies more and more transactions will take place horizontally across and between industry verticals. With M&A’s and extended value chains the impact on bottom line of not being able to immediately channel information across verticals will start to bite. It is at this point where the governance of EA practice and CIO and CTO involvement at board level and understanding of need for strategic implementations will start to impact with involvement by industry vertical groups to push for and adopt cross industry vertical ontology standards.

Legislative compliance; Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, HSPD-12, BASEL II, or Gramm-Leach-Bliley is dependent on business data, maintained through out distributed systems of the enterprise, for auditing purposes. Ontological relationship to data management shall be further expanded on later in this article.

There is a further driver here too namely Government and legislative push for open standards as government as a major consumer of services will start to insist on this. Particularly with institutions like the EU with many different languages a joint ontology at the business and intergovernmental level will greatly reduce cost of interaction, communication and trading. If, and when, too the WTO gets its act together this shall prove an even greater push to no barriers information exchange with shared ontology’s. It may even start to help in levelling the playing field for small to medium sized enterprises in emerging markets. It is even conceivable that work in the various technology fields discussed in this article with ontologies as the glue that aids their integration my in ways supersede the WTO.

Just thinking about possibilities for trade in goods and services with and between established mature markets and the BRIC’s (Brazil, a resurgent Russia, India and China), let alone other emerging markets, with different alpha numeric encodings is cause enough. Added to that the nature of end user interaction over the internet, gambling, gaming (Second Life, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, etal), messaging, personal services, (TODO: others), will be a further impetus. Enterprises, governments and end users are going to want standards based cross industry cross national cross cultural ontology’s to communicate and trade.



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