Semantics for Enterprise Data


We have witnessed over the years the progression from basic machine languages, to higher-level procedural languages, and then to object-oriented languages. Each advance introduced dramatic improvements in software capabilities that resulted in major leaps forward in fulfilling information technology requirements. We are again on the verge of another major advance in the evolution of software technology that may bring great value to organizations and other information technology beneficiaries.


The next big thing for the data management community is to give up central control and planning in order to gain scalability and robustness.


With the Web 2.0, ontologies are being used to improve search capabilities and make inferences for improved human or computer reasoning. By relating terms in an ontology, the user doesn’t need to know the exact term actually stored in the document. Data Rationalization is a Managed Meta Data Environment (MME) enabled application which creates/extends an ontology for a domain into the structured data world, based on model objects stored in various models (of varying levels of detail, across model files and modeling tools) and other meta data.


Semantic Technologies have much to offer today’s successful business, with regulatory, operational and economic forces combining to require that timely and accurate data from across the enterprise be available on demand and at the point of need. Clear benefits are often disguised, though, by obscure language, serious misconceptions about what ‘the Semantic Web’ could or should be, and an unfortunate tendency to advocate ‘semantic technology’ per se rather than specific solutions to tangible business problems.


Master Data Management is now mainstream and those of us who have practiced it for a few years are battered, bruised and wearily displaying our scars. Typically defined as the people, processes and systems that govern the core data (e.g. products, customers, suppliers) needed to run a business, Master Data Management (or MDM) requires painstaking work in three broad areas: data standardization, architecture, and governance:


I haven’t been formally trained on WolframAlpha nor have I thoroughly investigated it. In fact, I’ve spent more time reading the hype about it than I have actually kicking the tires. But from the time I’ve spent, some things are already obvious. First and prominently, WolframAlpha does not rely on semantic technology, neither Semantic Web nor Linked Data concepts, and it possesses no underlying ontology driving its structure or information.


A little over a year ago, the Tribune Company launched its Topic Galleries,, the result of semantic technologies used, in great part, to generate a product.  Other Tribune products are “spinning off” the vocabularies and the underlying logic intelligently surfacing the content in the Galleries.  However, to date, the Topic Galleries provide the most comprehensive presentation of a discovery process intended, in part, to plumb the depths of Tribune content well beyond the limited topic coverag


Over the years there have been a lot of persistent myths about the Semantic Web. Really, I can’t blame people too much. The ‘new’ Web has a pretty cryptic name, it’s been a long time coming, and the benefits of this 3rd generation Web infrastructure take some pretty serious geek-cred to really understand. But despite all these good reasons for regular folk to be confused about the Semantic Web, it’s the people who should know better and still spread mis-truths that really get me frustrated!

Executive Summary

If ontology is going to provide the next generation of intelligent information management, more attention must be given to creating high-fidelity, truly semantic models that are capable of representing not only the electronic media that are used to store the information, music, graphics, etc. that people care about, but are also capable of representing the propositional content and the linguistic characteristics of those media.  The abstract propositional or musical contents of documents or recordings is often quite independent of the media on which it is encoded, or even the language used for the encoding.