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Re: SWEO - Thoughts, Not Slides

From: David Provost <dprovost@metatomix.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2007 15:31:42 -0500
To: "Wilson, MD (Michael)" <m.d.wilson@rl.ac.uk>, <public-sweo-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C370975E.14B1%dprovost@metatomix.com>
Michael -

Apologies ­ US holidays have slowed my reply.

I believe strongly in the idea of ³familiarity², which is described in the
slide that Iıve attached and I readily accept that Semantic technologies (or
standards) can be progressively adopted as general skill levels grow. I also
believe that a spectrum of technical skill must exist within vendor and
customer organizations.

My goal is to create a presentation that will provide a clear understanding
of what a good Semantically enabled application could do, why itıd be better
than existing or future applications, and then quantify that value in
currency terms. 

Using my typical example, Microsoft wants its customers to use MS Office, or
even better, the full range of its products. I think itıs very reasonable to
expect enterprise customers to have people who are expert in the underlying
technologies (C, Visual Basic, etc.), and I think itıs very valuable to have
people who know these technologies.

If I were a Microsoft sales person, I could see the value in being able to
state that MS Office was based on technologies that should be familiar to an
enterprise IT staff. From a CIOıs perspective, I would find comfort in
knowing that I could apply existing personnel against a prospective
investment. However, the purchase of the technology and the dedication of
personnel to its extension or continued development are items that are
clearly >investments,< and businesses demand quantifiable returns for the
investments they make.

I believe the presentation I have in mind should talk about the value of a
discrete, self contained Semantic application similar to MS Office, Oracle
11g, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, Documentum eRoom, etc., while avoiding a
discussion of the increasing complexity of the underlying technology (for
the sake of discussion, letıs say XML => RDF => OWL). Note that I donıt
propose to either disguise or hide from this complexity, itıs just that I
believe customers place solving specific problems first and foremost in
their thinking and consideration of the ³how² behind those solutions is a
distant second.

I agree with you that investments in Semantic technologies can be managed in
a way that reduces the associated risks. Perhaps a refrain of the above
paragraph would be ³Hereıs this application ­ once itıs installed and
configured, you can query your companyıs 1,000 databases and quickly get a
unified view of a specific and important issue. Oh and by the way, this
application adjusts quickly and easily to changes in your corporate
infrastructure and will make interacting with your business partners a
breeze [never mind the hyperbole here].² I believe from here, some sort of
ROI argument could be developed.

Iım hoping that another productive step in this process is reviewing the
case studies/use cases on the SWEO pages. Unfortunately, I havenıt made any
progress since last weekıs conference call ­ shame on me.

Michael (and all others), please write soon, I believe this dialogue will be
key to making a convincing argument for the Semantic Web and Semantically
enabled applications.

David 


On 11/20/07 5:04 PM, "Wilson, MD (Michael)" <m.d.wilson@rl.ac.uk> wrote:

> David,
>  
> Also thoughts ­
>  
> A key argument for the CIO audience is represented in the SW layered pyramid
> (whatever layers) in contrast to previous AI/expert systems solutions.
> 
> Each step provides a solution to a specific problem, and they are the
> progressive problems of organizations as they grow in size and maturity of
> IT/IS systems. OMG have tried similar arguments for their model based design &
> technologies. SW uses the Web as the starting point (the outward face of an
> organization) rather than software development (an internal,
> organogramatically minor part of most organizations).
>  
> SW technology builds in stages where the skills of staff and the cost of
> tooling is not wasted at each step, but each step adds to the skills and tools
> that the staff already have, and add new functionality at the same time. Each
> step is accessible to staff who understand the previous step, and they can
> grow there skills while building on their understanding of the complexity and
> risks involved.
>  
> The cost arguments from this are that relatively small investments move up
> each step yielding identifiable benefits, rather than the glory arguments that
> a single vast investment will yield everything. The risks of investment can be
> managed progressively, and the Return on Investment (ROI) on each stage
> identified and used to justify the investment in the next step.
>  
> So the SW is designed to link risk management, investment strategy, ROI and
> maturity of IT/IS into a single progression.
>  
> 
> Prof Michael Wilson
> Manager, W3C Office in the UK & Ireland
> STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK
> http://www.e-science.stfc.ac.uk/organisation/staff/michael_wilson/
>  
> 
> 
> From: public-sweo-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:public-sweo-ig-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of David Provost
> Sent: 20 November 2007 21:46
> To: public-sweo-ig@w3.org
> Subject: SWEO - Thoughts, Not Slides
>  
> All -
> 
> I've been thinking and working on my presentation ideas and seem to be ending
> up with questions and thoughts, not slides. My thoughts are still gelling, but
> off the top of my head (all assuming a business/CIO/CTO
> audience):
> 
> 1. Businesses buy solutions to problems. They only buy technologies if they
> plan to use them to either solve problems or build solutions for same.
> (Companies don't buy Visual Basic or C, they buy MS Office.)
> 
> 2. There is no reward for buying the latest technology for its own sake. There
> is a very tangible reward for buying things that are better, faster, cheaper,
> more flexible/adaptable, etc. As a matter of fact, some might argue toward
> buying older, more proven technologies that are more stable.
> 
> 3. Since 2003 I've seen presentations from engineers and from business people
> (who are painfully lacking in background) that focus more on >how< a problem
> is solved rather than how the solution is >so much better< than what's
> presently available - which leads to...
> 
> 4. Economists use the term "substitute." An example is "My old car is a fine
> substitute for a new car." Separately, Gallium Arsenide is an excellent basis
> for microchips. Silicon hasn't been widely displaced because it continues to
> get better and cheaper (Wikipedia does a great job of summarizing this.) I
> believe there are substitutes for a lot of what Semantic technology can do and
> that itıs fair to say these substitutes may or may not be better in closed-
> vs. open-world environments. (The idea of data warehouses sounds great, but in
> practice, their creation, maintenance, and usefulness can leave a lot to be
> desired.)
> 
> This leads to a central point in my thinking: When Web adoption became
> mainstream, many corporations were caught severely lacking. (I believe the
> decision to adopt the Web was simpler ­ you needed a computer, a modem, a
> browser, a few other basic ingredients and you were in business.) Aside from
> selling specific solutions to specific problems, how can corporations be
> convinced to broadly invest in a non-proprietary technology now, so that they
> aren't left behind again? Or is the correct approach to highlight solutions
> first, and mention that Semantic technology powers them second? Perhaps a
> starting point is to pose the question ³What are the most mature aspects of
> the Semantic Web and what problems are these aspects best suited to solving?²
> 
> Iıve attached a presentation that portrays corporate IT portfolios as an
> investment portfolio, which takes the form of a pyramid. The most risky
> investments are at the top, which means that only a small amount of money is
> being put at risk. Thoughts on the usefulness of this perspective might be
> helpful.
> 
> 5. All this leads me to identify those things that SemWeb technology relies on
> as its main claims: Data integration, application interoperation, reasoning,
> and the fact that itıs Web based. My approach to SWEO would be to ask "Why is
> a SemWeb approach to these things better than existing substitutes?" Iım
> convinced these points can be broken down in convincing fashion, itıs just
> that I think Iım realizing I need to discuss these issues/questions, not
> assert a position.
> 
> Iım looking forward to discussing these points on tomorrowıs SWEO conference
> call.
> 
> David
> 
> 
> David Provost
> Product Manager, Platform
> Metatomix, Inc.
> 3 Allied Drive, Ste 210
> Dedham, MA 02026
> (781.254.2769
> dprovost@metatomix.com
> 
> 
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> 



David Provost
Product Manager, Platform
Metatomix, Inc.
3 Allied Drive, Ste 210
Dedham, MA 02026
(781.254.2769
dprovost@metatomix.com


This email and any attachments thereto may contain private, confidential,
and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient named in
the original email to which this message was addressed. Any review, copying,
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Received on Monday, 26 November 2007 20:32:21 UTC

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