Blogger: Lyn Robison
Recently, I watched an interesting documentary about Worldport, the worldwide hub for UPS in Louisville, Kentucky. It is obvious that shipping companies such as UPS have conquered the data integration problem, and offer a vital key for the rest of us.
UPS has multiple computer systems at Worldport, multiple computer systems at each of their regional hubs, and handheld computer systems for each of their drivers. These computer systems are silo-ed at UPS, just like computer systems are silo-ed in any other large enterprise, and as a result, each package enters and leaves many data silos on its journey from its origin to its destination. Yet UPS is able to provide an integrated, 360-degree view of each parcel as it moves through UPS’s shipping lifecycle. How does UPS do it?
One thing they do -- and this is a key for any enterprise that is looking to integrate operational data from silos -- is this: they identify each parcel.
That’s it. That is the big secret. They identify each parcel beyond the bounds of any data silo. They don’t waste hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to eliminate silos by doing SOA. They don’t replace all of their little silos with one big silo by implementing a risk-laden and hugely expensive ERP or CRM system. They simply identify each parcel. They give each parcel a tracking number by which it is known within all of the IT applications, information systems, and databases throughout UPS. Because each parcel is known in all information systems by its tracking number, UPS can pull together information about each parcel from all of their data silos, on demand.
Assigning each parcel a unique identifier is no doubt cheaper and a lot more effective than implementing SOA or a CRM system. We ought to do that in enterprise IT. We could give a unique identifier to each thing that we want to keep track of: each customer, each product, each supplier, each policy, each asset, each employee, each project, each decision, each work activity, etc.
If you knew and if everyone in the enterprise knew that every system that had any information about any of these individual things would reveal that information based on that thing’s identifier, data integration could almost be easy. Okay, maybe not easy, but certainly easier.
It turns out that in data integration, which one is almost more important than what kind? Any enterprise that identifies its non-fungible assets with unique identifiers can do silo-bridging instead of silo-busting, and will be better prepared to transition to cloud data management when the time comes.
Identifying important instances of data is one of the pillars of Burton Group’s MODS. Stay tuned for more guidance on MODS at Burton Group’s upcoming Catalyst conference.
BTW, we have a secret discount to Catalyst available to readers of this blog. To get the discount, here's what you do:
1. Go to the Catalyst home page (http://catalyst.burtongroup.com/). Either: click and then drag your mouse off the logo and release the button. OR: roll over the San Diego button but do not click, wait about 20 sec.
2. A message will pop-up stating "Congratulations! You’ve found an exclusive discount code for Catalyst 2009. Use promo code: Easter Egg and get General Sessions for only $999! Register today – this discount is limited to 50 users and could disappear at any time!"
That's it. Hope to see you at Catalyst!