Applications

Conclusion: Neither written languages nor formal programming languages are capable of representing organisational knowledge in a human-friendly format. Even though Semantic Web technologies attempt to offer assistance in this area, their scope of applicability is limited to the role of establishing crude links between elements of knowledge in the public domain. Making organisational knowledge tangible and easily accessible requires new techniques, and dedicated technologies.

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It all really started with the hype and the launch around Apple’s iPad earlier this year. Until then, tablet devices were perceived as a fringe phenomenon, of little interest to the mainstream consumer or business user. I have had an eye on the tablet space since the first release of the Amazon Kindle in 2007, and always wondered when devices with a tablet form factor would finally take off. To some degree the introduction and promotion of netbooks in the last two years had confused the market, but the range of tablet devices that are now available is reassuring. Still, the dust is far from settled, and there is a whole pipeline of tablet devices that have yet to hit the shelves. So, apart from the geek-factor, what value can a business user get out of a tablet?

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Conclusion: Large-scale Enterprise Data Warehouse implementations and operations often lead to multi-million dollar items in annual IT budgets. It is paramount that investments of this magnitude are put to good use, and are translated into tangible value for the organisation. Complexity of the underlying information structures can become a major issue, especially once complexity impacts the ability to formulate data warehouse queries in a timely manner. With a bit of foresight, or even retrospectively, it is possible to equip data warehouse designs with simple orientation and navigation aids that significantly reduce the time that users need to locate relevant information.

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My dog is cloud computing and I think you should invest in him. For a start, he’s a total mongrel and everyone has a different opinion about what he actually is. No one will ever be able to clearly define him because they all look at him and see what they want. In that respect he’s exactly like cloud computing. Some people see him as infrastructure, others as a platform for applications and others see something between. One thing is certain though, no matter what you think my dog is, he’s fuzzy.

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Conclusion: Electronic documents and records management solutions (EDRMS) from yesteryear are failing to provide the flexibility and collaborative experiences that today’s organisations require. In most organisations, less than 10% of content has been placed in existing EDRMSs. However, investing in a new EDRMS will not result in greater satisfaction levels if new principles are not first adopted.

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Conclusion:Last year Richard Soley, Ivar Jacobson, and Bertrand Meyer called for action to re-found software engineering on principles and practices that are backed by robust scientific theories. Achieving big gains in software quality and productivity by introducing off-the-shelf methodologies has proved to be elusive. The evidence suggests that looking for much smaller (and scientifically validated) building blocks that can be composed into an organisation-specific methodology is much more likely to deliver results than the quest for the ultimate methodology. Alignment between business and IT requires constant vigilance of staying on the narrow ridge that separates over-simplification of an organisation’s activities from spurious complexity in software implementations.

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Conclusion:When it comes to evaluating software products to address a particular business need, the first activity after determining a list of candidate products often consists of sourcing product selection criteria from independent subject matter experts. But qualified product selection is only possible if extensive information about the specific organisational context is taken into consideration, otherwise boilerplate product selection criteria only have the effect of a security blanket.

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Software development was still a very esoteric discipline in the days when Lisp was born. In the meantime the software industry went through a whole series of major paradigm shifts:

  • From structured programming (Pascal and related languages)

  • To relational databases (the SQL standard and implementations from IBM, Oracle and others)

  • To Computer Aided Software Engineering (a very large range of competing tools)

  • To object-oriented languages (such as Smalltalk, C++ and Java)

  • To components (such as the CORBA standard and Java Enterprise Edition)

  • To web based applications (HTML, XML, JavaScript, and other scripting languages)

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Conclusion: When designing a service-oriented architecture it is essential to provide a mechanism for connecting services from different sources. Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) technologies add value when the systems involved don’t make use of shared data formats and communication protocols.

The market now includes a number of mature open source ESB technologies. Selecting the most appropriate option involves looking beyond the technologies and understanding the factors that influence the quality of a service oriented architecture.

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