Thursday, October 02, 2003

The Future of Data

Data used to sit in islands of information.

Today networking has caused organizations to want to connect information. Much of information management is concerned with managing the portfolio of information sources, processes, projects and outcomes of old and new systems and changes.

Middleware, object oriented programming, software and design reuse, integrated ERP packages, portals -- all target the objective of tying together information in many places. Sometimes the tying together is done in a central database or information repository. Sometimes it is done dynamically and on the fly using newer middleware technologies such as application servers.

But there is another parallel trend occuring - the increase in the amount of digital sensor data. Current hot areas include:

- digital sensors
- RFID (radio frequency identification)
- barcoding (with a new standard in bar codes about to emerge)
- locational capabilities in cell phones and automobiles
- track and trace capabilities in parcel and letter shipment

It's an interesting question to think about what the world is going to look like with an explosion of such data.

The first key insight is that the amount of data in the world is likely to explode by several orders of magnitude. What this means is that all our assumptions about the appropriateness of current technologies is likely to change.

Second, in a world filled with digital sensor data, managing the difference between useful and archival data is not just a question of good economics, it's required for performance.

Third, it's likely that scientific and business breakthrough performance will require drawing conclusions about highly granular data. Figuring out such conclusions will likely require a lot of smart people, sophisticated analysis tools and a different class of information warehouses. These new information warehouses will be ones that can manage archival data well, ones to which software agents can be attached, because the sheer volume of data will be too large for human beings to deal with.

An example of this new class of tools is Alacrity Results Management described under Performance Management at

Alistair Davidson

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