That amorphous Web of pages on the Internet is a database of everything—of grossly unpredictable quality. We commonly search the Web to find out what something is. Our best tools try to help us filter out the noise.
Within the enterprise, our pages are confined to the business at hand. Our technology requires that someone created information models we could live with. Those models apply to our prospect lists, customer lists, financials, deliverables, strategies, and staff experience
Taken altogether, from our information models we can learn the historical lessons of our business: What worked and what didn’t.
So our usual quest is to find out where desired information is stored. If we can find the source, we may have to wrestle with some side issues. Can we run the source application; do we have the authentication; is the information in this source the latest version; is this the authoritative source; is anyone maintaining it?
Well, what about content management systems? They operate like information libraries. Aren’t they the solution? They are, but the enterprise usually has several of them. Project time goes here, project deliverables go there, prospects go this way, staff resources go that way.
There’s nothing wrong with custom data applications for specific purposes. But how much effort is required to loop together everything the enterprise knows about a business subject?
My opinion is that we lose interest in our business history—and the intelligence collected there—whenever the search for the information overwhelms the gratification of finding it.
Therefore, take a lesson from the amorphous Web. We should devise one in-house search engine of the corporation’s business intelligence assets. That engine should know the interface rules for all enterprise information models.
Some nice features include:
• Statements of source location and information ownership.
• Statements of policy compliance and privacy.
• Frequent crawling of the assets to capture changes.
• Preserving a change history.
• Pinging owners to review, annotate, and correct the latest crawled updates.
Answering the basic question “Where can I find …?” resolves the largest factor in the data complexity issue. Possession of a single familiar, commodity tool reassures information consumers (you and me) that the ocean of information is navigable.