The Data Centric Revolution: Seven Warning Signs of Appliosclerosis

15-SEPCOL01MCCOMB-edOf all the dangers that befall those on the journey to data centrism, by far the greatest danger is Appliosclerosis. Appliosclerosis, or as lay people know it- hardening of the silos, can strike any one at any time, but some are more prone to it than others. By the time Appliosclerosis has metastasized it may be too late, isolated and entrenched data models may already be firmly established in various vital departments, and extreme rationalization therapy may be the only option, perhaps followed by an intense taxo regimen.

In this brief piece we will lay out the symptoms that are most associated with the condition, and steps you can take to avoid early onset.

  • Warning Sign 1: Fear of New Wheels – one of the most consistent early behavioral predictors of Appliosclerosis is Wheelophobia. This usually begins with executives making statements such as “Let’s not reinvent the wheel here.” This is an innocuous sounding bromide, after all, who wants yet another wheel? But this cliché is a Trojan Horse, and each of the Greek soldiers that come out of its belly carries the gift of yet another incompatible data model. Before you know it, the intention to avoid new wheels leaves the afflicted with a panoply of arbitrarily different and disconnected data models.
  • Warning Sign 2: The Not (Not Invented Here Syndrome) – Curiously one of the most potent antibodies against Wheelophobia is the “Not Invented Here Syndrome (NIHS)” Those afflicted with NIHS (and it is generally believed to be hereditary) have a predisposition to custom build information systems whenever given a chance. While this does have many negative side effects, the positive side effect is that it curtails Appliosclerosis through two mechanisms. The first is by starving the nascent Applio tumors from developing by denying resources. The second is that NIHS is a very slow growing condition. Most organizations die with NIHS, not from it. The slow growth prompts some organizations to suppress the NIHS antibody with the bio-reactive NIHS complement (!NIHS).
  • Warning Sign 3: The Universal ID – The early and widespread success of the Universal Remote has lead many executives to the information equivalent: The Universal ID. On the surface the Universal ID promises to allay many of the problems that seem endemic in modern information systems, including, but not limited to severe difficulty in integrating and the burning sensation that occurs when trying to focus on a 360o view of anything. But the Universal ID is a red herring. The universal ID does nothing to stem the tide of rapidly replicating data models, and often leaves the host drained of vital nutrients.
  • Warning Sign 4: Agile Uber Alles – The Agile revolution has brought us many great advancements. Here I am thinking of such triumphs as test driven development, refactoring, technical debt and standup meetings. But sadly, there is a downside to its legacy. In its zeal to develop only what is needed, when it is needed, and only that information recounted in “user stories” the agile application team creates ever more application-specific data models. Thinking ahead to how this information might be integrated with other corporate stores smacks too much of “planning” and other four letter words from the Agile vocabulary.
  • Warning Sign 5: Requirements Checklists – If Agile is Scylla then Requirements Checklists are the Charybdis. There is something gratifying about creating a 500 item checklist for your new system. The anticipation of your upcoming guaranteed satisfaction with the eventual end product is almost palpable. But hidden in that poison pill you just took is the almost certain guarantee that you will implement the most complex, over designed, and over implemented system imaginable. The “winner” of the contest to satisfy your requirements will be the system with the most features. The most features generally means the most complex data model. And there is zero chance that the system with the most features will somehow ride lightly on your pre-existing corporate data model.
  • Warning Sign 6: The Color of Money – A contagious disease, previously only found in large Federal and State Agencies, has now established a foothold in corporate America. “Color of Money” is a code word for a condition that inhibits sharing of information if such sharing comes at a cost to the original sponsor of the system that created the data. Once infected with the pathogen, the organism sees money in different and incompatible colors. Money from one source, may be ascribed as being “blue” where other departments may be spending “red” money. Some epidemiologists believe that Color of Money is acquired in early in life, where it can be witnessed in children who have a strong aversion to letting food groups touch on a dinner plate.
  • Warning Sign 7: Need to Know — Information hoarding comes in many forms and guises. In mild forms it is beneficial to many organizations, as it leads to the accumulation of potentially valuable information assets. In its more advanced stages it can be paralyzing. Advanced stage “Need to Knowers” erect barriers that prevent loved ones and corporate care givers from being aware of the extent of data isolation that has occurred.

If any of these signs persist, or if you have an implementation that lasts more than four years, please contact your ontologist immediately. Other side effects of Appliosclerosis may include: inability to integrate, information hoarding, elevated budget pressure, frequent urges to unify and avoidance of contact with change requests.

A trained professional can help your organization develop habits that will forestall and in some case reverse the ravages of Appliosclerosis. One of the most important habits is maintaining a diet rich in data centrics, and two to three helpings of ontological realism per day.

We have applied to DSM V and ICD/10 for official codes for the various maladies presented here, we will keep subscribers posted on the progress.

 

 

Copyright © 2015 – Semantic Arts, Inc.

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About Dave McComb

Dave McComb is President of Semantic Arts, Inc. a Fort Collins, Colorado based consulting firm, specializing in Enterprise Architecture and the application of Semantic Technology to Business Systems. He is the author of Semantics in Business Systems, and program chair for the annual Semantic Technology Conference.

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