Published in TDAN.com January 2005
The Zachman Framework Meets eCommerce
By Ted Kowalski, Vice President DAMA On-line Services
As VP of On-line Services for DAMA, I am often asked to describe our offerings, My answer might be something like “well, we publish events, allow chapters to build their own sites with WYSIWYG tools, have a membership database (somewhat accessible), provide mail servers, and display a consistent look and feel.” Then I wonder if they’re impressed. Maybe they were expecting something wonderful, but I’d rather call it “just adequate.” And that implies a need for rethinking our on-line approach. Thus, I thought I would present here a vision of where we’re going with on-line services and then ask for your thoughts on that vision.
Let’s start with this question: is DAMA ready for that popular new invention called eCommerce? Or more generically, does eCommerce apply to not-for-profit entities? I think it does apply, but there’s a slight difference. In for-profit companies, web interfaces are used about 80% for processing customer purchases and payments and only about 20% for deployment of service. In a DAMA-type organization however, those figures are reversed. Thus, we need to use eCommerce primarily in handing out our benefits, and only secondarily in collecting payments. So now eCommerce starts looking a lot more important; it’s key role for us is delivering value.
Given that fact, how do we get started? Some folks have suggested that we go check out some new tool vendors—there are quite a few out there–and throw software at the problem. We currently use a firm called internet4associations.com and have spent a fair amount of money and labor using their solution. More software might help a little, but before we start buying software we need to ask (1). What are DAMA’s eCommerce requirements and (2). Where is DAMA going (a rather heavy question)? To simplify or organize the problem, I thought that rather than throwing software we might throw the Zachman Framework at the problem. For the few of you that don’t know about this tool, it’s a simple matrix invented by John Zachman many years ago. This framework contains columns called Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How and rows that show varying levels of granularity. So take a look at the diagram below and think about eCommerce for DAMA as you examine it.
Now for a few explanations. First, the “WHO” dimension represents the people that we deal with—the DAMA International board, the chapters all over the world, the members (individual and corporate), interests groups (Warehousing, XML, etc.), and the mail lists with which we broadcast the news. Second, the “WHAT” contains events (talks, conferences, the member’s act of joining), payments , the membership database, the general population looking for information or other requirements, the need for survey tools. And should we add that new fellow on the block called “web services”?
Next we have the “HOW,” the processes, strategies, and tools that get the job done. This includes being user-focused, getting to information through hierarchy drilldown, conferencing, emails, search engines, multimedia, webinars, being organized, and new technology, such as XML, .NET, Metadata, and WYSIWIG web work, to name a few). And we shouldn’t forget bulletin boards for facilitating idea sharing. Can you think of more “hows” to add? We’re open. (Note: we don’t do a lot of these things right now. We’re just doing the “vision” thing here, so be patient.)
Then there’s the “When” and “Where.” “When” is about moments or periods when our website serves people, like responding with reminder alarms or letting you know when our web content has changed. Also, would it help you if we kept history or logs (of events, accomplishments, web accesses, or whatever)? The “Where” dimension deals with the location of deliverables. Should we deploy at more than just the website? How about where our data is stored (downloaded to you—on your c-drive, or your Blackberry?) Should our web pages be reorganized? Would it help to have an index for finding things?
Finally, most important is the “Why” factor, that is, the benefits or added value we bring. Why is DAMA in business and why should you belong to DAMA or visit our site? I can think of two answers: First, we need to make data available to you—data that is current, authoritative, integrated with no conflicts. Secondly, We should help support your business goals—getting trained, managing corporate data, and implementing technology.
Well, that was an interesting intellectual exercise, but now it’s time for action. I thought we should conclude with some practical agenda that these six question-words suggest? Here’s a start:
- What: Explore new services and user-oriented results that DAMA can provide.
- Who: Survey the populace (members and non-members) and see what they want or need.
- When: Keep the website changing constantly and notify the audience about change and plans, so they know when to come back.
- Where: Implement software tools that deploy information to new places and spaces.
- How: We’re currently forming a professional group that will help make DAMA the authoritative source in data administration. So we should discover new tools, services, and strategies to move that authoritative information.
- Why: Understand our members’ needs/goals, and let that define the purpose of on-line services.
In closing, I’m asking you–the public, the viewers, the members—to suggest any new tools, techniques or approaches that can improve DAMA’s on-line service. DAMA needs the same thing that all of you need: powerful software combined with creative approaches, and all at a low cost. If you have any ideas, forward them to VP_Online_Services@dama.org. I look forward to hearing from you!