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Enterprise information frameworks: Will Gangnam style work?

This article appears in the issue February 2013 [Volume 22, Issue 2]
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At a recent conference I listened to a presentation with the interesting title "Big Data, Big Mobile, Big Social. Big Bucks. Big Noise. Big Machines? The Future of the Internet." The speaker was self-proclaimed "futurist" Gerd Leonhard. (A redacted version of the presentation is available at http://goo.gl/vrHFS.)

On the day of the lecture, the news broke about Hewlett-Packard's allegations that Autonomy intentionally misstated its financial reports. I was thinking about information management, frameworks and the difficulties managers face navigating today's financial landscape.

Already toast?

As Leonhard romped through Gangnam style music (as in PSY's viral music video), social media and the disruptive nature of all things SoMoLo (social, mobile and local), I realized that many organizations already may be toast. Forget the future. Many traditional organizations are like dinosaurs foraging as the snow piles up around their hooves.

Leonhard's presentation left me with a simple message, "Organizations have to reinvent themselves."

After the talk, I considered the question, "Can an established organization like a government health service agency, a trucking company or a textbook publisher adapt to the jazzy, social, brave new world of big data?" To mesh with the "big" new world, the business processes themselves have to change and quickly. Like PSY's horsey dance in the Gangnam style, which Leonhard included in his talk, those who do not learn to hoof it with the trendy set will not be at the hot new club tomorrow.

Leonhard offered no suggestions for a manager looking to embrace the future. After the conference, I spoke with individuals who were using different systems to deal with their organizations' information. Several were aware that I had contributed to recent IDC reports about information framework vendors using open source technology to help organizations process internal information as well as third-party content such as that flowing through Twitter or being posted to Facebook pages.

Agile examples

Most of the enterprise software vendors talk about big data, frameworks, standards, social media and user experience. I spoke with several delegates who asked about my analyses of Attivio and PolySpot for IDC's new report about open search software vendors. A number of those conference conversations pivoted on what was different about the Attivio and PolySpot approach. IBM, Microsoft and Oracle offer similar solutions. But, in my opinion, Attivio and PolySpot take a different, more agile approach. One conference attendee asked me with a smile, "Do companies like PolySpot and Attivio approach enterprise information frameworks Gangnam style?"

I took the question seriously, and said, "No." Let me elaborate.

Because I was in London, PolySpot was closer to home for several of the people with whom I spoke after Leonhard's speech. Based in Paris, the company has developed an approach to search-enabled applications that shares some similarities with Attivio's unified information approach (UIA) and LucidWorks', (formerly Lucid Imagination) decision platform. Lucene's search library provides foundation information retrieval for PolySpot. The Solr query service was integrated starting with Solr Version 5.

Adaptability

The PolySpot technology allows licensees to access information from many different sources and deliver information that answers real-life business questions. Users access the content via applications or apps from mobile devices to desktop computers. Olivier Lefassy, founder of PolySpot, described his company's approach as "solutions plus apps."

The PolySpot infrastructure breaks through the walls of information silos and content complexity. With the PolySpot technology, big data becomes one more information type available to users. Unlike traditional systems that cannot scale to accommodate ever-increasing volumes of data, PolySpot can adapt without overhauling existing servers, network devices and other system components. The PolySpot system addresses those problems without custom coding.

David Fischer, PolySpot's chief technical officer, says: "Unlike Microsoft's proprietary approach, PolySpot has made the early choice of open and state-of-the-art technologies to better integrate its solutions within evolving IT environments."

PolySpot implements what it calls an "InfoWarehouse." Fischer explains, "By pioneering the InfoWarehouse concept and leveraging the best from open source technologies in a cost-effective solution, PolySpot is ideally positioned to acquire a leadership position to address the big data opportunity.

PolySpot combines solid engineering with an approach that does not require the difficult job of ripping out existing systems and replacing them with a different framework Gangnam style.

Correlations

Attivio was of interest because in October 2012, the company received $34 million in venture funding to help organizations tap information to make better business decisions. Boston.com spoke with Attivio founder Ali Riaz after the new funding was announced (See boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2012/10/attivio_collects_34_million_in.html.)

Riaz told Boston.com, "What we do is integrate all the silos of data that exist today, and provide you with the opportunity to do a query, or set up rules or alerts. One thing our software does is correlations. You may have an unpaid invoice that belongs to [a specific company], and we help you figure out that the reason it's unpaid is that you may have all these support issues with them that you need to address."

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