It Innovation – Critical to Business Success

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

The write-up 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 “Normally, IT departments are tactical rather than strategic, reactive rather than proactive and isolated rather than integrated.”

Whilst IT teams usually do require to improve their business and innovation outlook, the major issue is in ensuring that senior management recognizes that IT innovation is central to company success and then driving it forward. However, as the write-up states, “Many old-line businesses are struggling with legacy know-how and systems that impede their capacity to act swiftly, much less supply 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 1 of the major 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 obtain considerable services growth since 1995.

For progressive organization’s, there are quite a few IT innovation opportunities (some of them are even free!). The emerging semantic technology region, forecast to grow 25 fold over the next couple of 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 company 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 firms, we can highlight here a couple of of the IT innovators that have caught the eye. Some of the search and data integration organizations are:

Quick which is about to be acquired by Microsoft, give 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 of charge, OmniFind Yahoo version which has decreased functionality but may be suitable for smaller requirements – note that Microsoft have made an supply to purchase Yahoo.

Vivísimo’s Velocity Search platform provides enterprise search solutions that allow end-users to come across, access, explore and manipulate all accessible 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 provides Clusty for free of charge, claimed to be the 1st full-service search website making use of advanced clustering technology.

Metatomix have a background in law and justice applications (e.g. tracking offenders across several 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 contain 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 enables 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 cash. 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 enterprise issues within your organization in a cost effective, low risk and quick timescale manner. Organization strategy, folks, method and deployment elements also want to be considered when reviewing these technologies.

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