It Innovation - Critical to Business Success

By: Alan Glass

A July 2007 BusinessWeek article on Innovation opened with the following comments. "To thrive in the 21st century service economy, startups and old-line companies alike must shift their IT geeks to the front lines of innovation"

The article further lambasts the IT fraternity by saying "The majority of IT departments sit on the sidelines of innovation discussions when they should be central players." and "Typically, IT departments are tactical rather than strategic, reactive rather than proactive and isolated rather than integrated."

Whilst IT teams generally do need to improve their business and innovation outlook, the main issue is in ensuring that senior management recognizes that IT innovation is central to business success and then driving it forward. However, as the article states, "Many old-line companies are struggling with legacy know-how and systems that impede their ability to act quickly, much less provide direction and leadership for the innovation leaders who are so dependent on them."

The 2007 EU Innovation Scorecard report identifies the relative innovation performance of the EU countries compared with the US and Japan. The report suggests that 'knowledge intensive business services' are likely to be one of the main factors for future growth within the EU. The role of ICT, as a productivity enhancing innovation, is also acknowledged within the report, for example in helping the US achieve significant services growth since 1995.

For progressive organization's, there are numerous IT innovation opportunities (some of them are even free!). The emerging semantic technology area, forecast to grow 25 fold over the next few years, is an example. Fuelled by extensive private and public sector ICT R&D budgets over recent years, there are a number of semantic applications now being deployed within the marketplace to solve particular business issues in an innovative way. If you are not already researching these opportunities, then perhaps your peers and competitors are!

Based on an initial list of 300 semantic technology companies, we can highlight here a few of the IT innovators that have caught the eye. Some of the search and data integration companies are:

Fast which is about to be acquired by Microsoft, offer enterprise search and related applications to the Media, Communication, Retail, Financial Services and Government sectors.

OmniFind Enterprise Edition is the IBM enterprise search product. They also have a free, OmniFind Yahoo version which has reduced functionality but may be suitable for smaller requirements - note that Microsoft have made an offer to buy Yahoo.

Vivísimo's Velocity Search platform provides enterprise search solutions that allow end-users to find, access, explore and manipulate all available content, regardless of location. Based on a service-oriented architecture that enables rapid deployment, Velocity claim it can be up and running in just weeks. For consumer web searches, Vivísimo offers Clusty for free, claimed to be the first full-service search site using advanced clustering technology.

Metatomix have a background in law and justice applications (e.g. tracking offenders across multiple public sector databases), but are expanding into financial services, manufacturing and other sectors with a semantic approach to data integration. For larger organization's, with disparate and heterogeneous data sources, a technology such as this would enable legacy IT investments to be retained whilst offering a consolidated and contextual view of data

TopQuadrant announced that TopBraid Composer and TopBraid Live now include a Semantic email importer. This technology enables organizations to develop Semantic applications that combine email metadata with other data sources, which can be searched and analyzed. This allows organizations to answer business questions using a combination of data from email, relational databases, spreadsheets, XML, UML, RSS/Atom and Semantic data imported from GRDDL, RDFa, RDF triple stores and SPARQL endpoints.

Zepheira provides solutions to integrate, navigate and manage information across personal, group and enterprise boundaries to save time and money. They claim they are experts in applying Semantic Web standards and knowledge management technologies to address specific data integration challenges.

Whilst some of these technologies are exciting and innovative, they only make sense if they can solve the particular business issues within your organization in a cost effective, low risk and quick timescale manner. Business strategy, people, process and deployment factors also need to be considered when reviewing these technologies.

Top Searches on
Technology
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Technology