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Re: Impact of XML on Data Modeling

From: Anthony B. Coates (W3C Lists) <abcoatesecure-w3c@yahoo.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 21:08:31 -0000
To: xmlschema-dev@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.t5pmchv9beptyg@laptop01.mileywatts.com>

Hi Mike.  I clearly wasn't clear enough.  I wasn't suggesting that  
abstractions are forcibly technically-oriented.  However, I was suggesting  
that people with a technical mindset tend to create models with more  
abstractions (i.e. data normalised into common superclasses) than do  
people with a more of a business mindset.  There is no problem with  
abstractions that business experts understand, expressed in terms that  
those business experts understand.  Beware though that if you train  
today's business experts to understand structures and terminology that you  
have introduced, that is not based on their day-to-day experience and  
language, then you need to be able to repeat that training for any new  
business experts who may replace them.  It's that usual thing that any  
process can and will work for a problem that is small enough, but in large  
organisations where there is a noticeable turnover in the responsible  
business experts, you need to be careful about training up one group to  
understand things in a way that their replacements won't understand.  That  
kind of thing can easily see projects grind to a halt, or just end up  
sidelined and shelved.  I guess the project needs to be big enough and  
long-lived enough for this to be an issue of any significance.

Cheers, Tony.

On Tue, 29 Jan 2008 15:58:00 -0000, Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com> wrote:

>> So, what I should have said is that introducing "Person" as
>> the common superclass of "Employer" and "Employee" is
>> something you would normally do in the logical model, but you
>> would only do that in the conceptual model if the business
>> experts view the world that way.
> What I usually find is that after a couple of hours with a whiteboard,  
> you
> change the way the business people see things. Suddenly they realize that
> they have been using a word like "channel" (as in a broadcasting channel  
> - a
> real example) or "retailer" to mean three different things, and that  
> this is
> why they were getting confused...
> Similarly, when you start asking questions like "How do you handle a
> customer who is also a supplier", you may well find one outpost of the
> organization that tells you "we lump them together and call them business
> partners", and then other people will say that's a good idea, we could do
> that too.
> So I don't really buy the idea that abstractions can be classified as
> business-oriented or technically-oriented. They arise from designing
> IT-enabled business processes, which tends to be a joint activity.

Anthony B. Coates
London, UK
UK: +44 (20) 8816 7700, US: +1 (239) 344 7700
Mobile/Cell: +44 (79) 0543 9026
Received on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 01:46:49 UTC

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