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Enterprise information frameworks: Will Gangnam style work?

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The benefit for licensees of Attivio's Active Intelligence Engine (AIE) is that "we can merge into their existing information infrastructure so that we're adding value in days," Riaz says.

Fitting in

Attivio's approach is almost the direct opposite of the Microsoft SharePoint-style approach. To gain access to existing information, a Microsoft SharePoint licensee must commit to the Microsoft lineup of servers, systems and applications. Like IBM, Microsoft and other established enterprise solution vendors can ultimately make a system work. The Attivio approach is to fit into the systems that a licensee already has. The approach provides a "wrapper" or "virtual dashboard" through which to view information assets.

Attivio's videos explain how the AIE provides an interesting alternative to traditional enterprise-scale information frameworks. The system works with TIBCO Spotfire analytics. Users can interact with existing information via the visualizations developed by Christopher Ahlberg and his team. Attivio asserts: "AIE and TIBCO Spotfire give customers unprecedented capabilities to effectively analyze fully integrated content and data to drive decisions that improve financial performance, reduce overhead, drive new product innovations and reduce time to market. (See attivio.com/resources/demos.html.)

However, the UIA Demo explains how Attivio can serve as a "platform" for an organization. The Attivio approach: "utilizes a universal index to provide a search-like interface that gives you a single view into all your different sources of content and data. Our patented query-time JOIN capabilities allow users to search across their full enterprise data landscape with a single query and retrieve results that are relevant and related to their query. Using the power of the relationships in your content and data, a schema-agnostic search index and flexible workflows and APIs, AIE provides an easy interface for exploring your enterprise content and helping you connect the dots and find the answers that will help drive better business decisions."

How to cope

Some open source search vendors do the Gangnam style approach to enterprise frameworks. To me, those stylized, overly complex systems are to be avoided. I believe that Leonhard's description of the future is partially correct. In my opinion, the formalized Viennese waltz approach to enterprise information frameworks should be avoided. The method is too slow and cumbersome for today's information challenges. I also am wary of the freeform, cloud-everything approach. I have found that an agile, balanced approach works best and usually costs less.

Organizations have difficulty managing and navigating the content already in their possession. Existing systems built on software from IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP can be reworked to deal with increasing flows of internal and external data. The question is: "Will agile organizations stick with existing infrastructures and methods or reinvent themselves?"

Hewlett-Packard's efforts to reinvent itself with blockbuster acquisitions like the purchase of Autonomy have apparently backfired. HP has been forced to take a multi-billion dollar write-down because its due diligence processes allegedly failed to detect potential problems. (Source: Michael Liedtke, "HP's Autonomy Deal Highlights Pattern of Bad Ideas, NewsFactor, Nov. 23, 2012.)

If a high-technology giant like HP cannot tap into existing information to make more informed decisions, what will companies in traditional businesses do to cope? How will government agencies deal with the new information environment? Bureaucracies can only move incrementally due to budget and contractual constraints.

Leonhard's look at the future requires that I accept that society is moving from "stuff to bits." For information, he asserts, "The intangibles take over: likes, love, sentiments." One of Leonhard's notions is that the Internet will move "inside" a person. Embedded technology will permit truly pervasive connectivity. One consequence of those changes is: "Control moves to the nodes, the edges and the users." A business process will rely on "interrelating." Organizations will have to embrace "networked business models or go bust." Systems will perform "sense-making, curation and filtering." If Leonhard is correct, "Data is [sic] the new oil."

Three observations

First, it is clear that adding in a software component is unlikely to have a significant impact on how a traditional company does business, makes decisions or manages information. A rip-and-replace approach to existing systems is beyond the reach of most organizations due to resource constraints. Therefore, the approach provided by Attivio, PolySpot and companies like them is likely to succeed. The status quo can be preserved while a software "wrapper" provides more useful, actionable access to information.

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