Welcome!

Recurring Revenue Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Xenia von Wedel

RSS Feed Item

The Semantic Enterprise: Are Semantics the Future of Mashups?

Is it just me or does it seem like semantics are trying to compete with mashups for the ‘it’ technology crown of 2008? Tim Berners-Lee reiterated his vision of the Semantic Web. In case you haven’t heard him do this pitch before, here’s the jist of it straight from the interview:

In the semantic web, it's like every piece of data is given a longitude and latitude on a map, and anyone can 'mash' them together and use them for different things.

And perhaps not coincidentally, there was a note in TechCrunch around the same time about Yahoo’s foray into semantics: ‘Yahoo talked about their plans to allow third parties to alter and enhance search results with structured data that may be useful to users’. These comments really stood out in my mashup-centric mind. This all sounds very similar to the everyday definition of a mashup!

Semantics and mashups have the same goal of connect-the-data-dots but have very different ways of going about this complex task. And its in the devilsh details that I have seen enterprise technologists find semantics more problematic than Berners-Lee or the folks at Yahoo. Why? Because ‘Semantic Web’ isn’t the same as ‘Semantic Enterprise. And there's the trap.

I have been enthralled by semantics since the now-distant point in my career where I was responsible for a semantic information integration product. I even had an ex-DARPA PhD on contract to try and help me wrap my head around the not-too-simple subject. And based my experiences I must say that even I can see a myriad of potholes on the road to the Semantic Enterprise. So forgive me if I appear to be putting my foot on the semantic brakes but the pragmatic voice in the back of my head just won’t be quiet. I hate to sound like such a hater on such a great concept. I just have concerns.

First, there's the conceptual underpinnings of semantics itself. It is a complicated topic to say the least. In my old role as semantic pitch-man I used to joke that I could turn off even the most technical audience by using terms and phrases like ‘semantics’ ‘ontology’, and ‘equivalence’. Few understood these tenets and even fewer had any hands-on experience with them. (Perhaps Yahoo’s efforts will begin to change this.)

Of course, even if the fundamental concepts were understood by your every-day enterprise technologist, there’s the state of the semantic technology to consider. In a lab, it is simply amazing to see the power and value of a semantic network. I am sure the folks at Yahoo would agree. In practice, however, it is simply amazing to see how hard they are to create, how complicated they can be to maintain, and how sluggish generally slow they can be in production. I heard one industry pundit remark recently that his efforts at creating semantic ontologies universally led to shouting matches and no unusable results.

Final, there's the practical differences between public, SaaS-type of world Yahoo lives in and the behind-the-firewall world of the enterprise. Practically speaking, there aren’t many Yahoo-caliber solutions available for use inside the enterprise. The best (only?) is perhaps Oracle with its early-stage semantic technologies, with a few niche vendors sprinkled in (like the list of exhibitors at the Semantic Technology Conference.) And while I expect some of these vendors might disagree, it is near impossible to find enterprise-grade semantic solutions that show scale, show adaptability and don’t require a PhD to maintain. They all still have that ‘only for the extreme early adopter’ feel.

Last, I think (actually, I know) one of the biggest potholes on the road to the Semantic Enterprise will be the enterprises themselves. Bringing semantics to the Web, a set of reasonably similar collections of knowledge that are 10-years-old at most, can be imagined through a combination of machines and community efforts (albeit a community the size of Yahoo’s). But inside the typical enterprise you have 35+ years of information and information technologies to get ‘semanticized’ and, SOA efforts not withstanding, it is siloed, often undocumented, and about as disparate in format as you could possibly imagine. And unlike Yahoo, you don’t have armies of semantic-tagging volunteers.

Sure, these issues will be worked through. But it will be a while. In a past post I asked ‘…what does an organization's [information-hungry users] do while it’s waiting for [it’s] SOA effort to reach critical mass...?’. I think the same question applies here. So here’s an attempt at a positive conclusion: Mashups can be the gap-filler between today and the Semantic Enterprise. The results can be just as powerful and, more importantly, mashups are something your enterprise could begin today. Once semantics get their enterprise-kinks worked out, they'll make a valuable source of information for enterprise mashers.

Are semantics the future of information? Of course they are. But when will they fit the world of the enterprise? 2 years? 5? 10? More? Well, that’s the real question, isn’t it? I suggest you mash while you wait.

Read the original blog entry...

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...