Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Deciphering the value of directories and taxonomies

Since the last eighteen months have brought my career into new territories, such as selling to the Federal Government, we are often asked to decipher our "techno-speak" into analogies that "your mother can understand" (as one Colonel put it). When someone asks about the "value" of a registration and discovery system for Web Services, such that we offer at Systinet, I'm often inclined to ask them how they would find a drycleaner without a well organized Yellow Pages, or how their computer would locate applications without Windows Directory. When it all comes down to it, every one of these registration systems are based upon a taxonomic structure. So, then we get asked the question - what are the value of taxonomies within a registration system?

Well... - think about your Microsoft Outlook system without a well organized, categorized system of folders. If you get as many e-mails as I do, - you'd have an inbox with 40,000 e-mails in it after a year and you wouldn't be able to find anything!

So what is the "formal" definition of a "Taxonomy"?

From Wikipedia:

Taxonomy (from Greek ταξινομία (taxonomy) from the words taxis = order and nomos = law) may refer to either a hierarchical classification of things, or the principles underlying the classification. Almost anything, animate objects, inanimate objects, places, and events, may be classified according to some taxonomic scheme.

Mathematically, a taxonomy is a tree structure of classifications for a given set of objects. At the top of this structure is a single classification, the root node, that applies to all objects. Nodes below this root are more specific classifications that apply to subsets of the total set of classified objects. Some have argued that the human mind naturally organizes its knowledge of the world into such systems.


Blogger Kees said...


I read your blog very interesting, I like the comparison with the folders on your Windows system and the ability to find something

But in my opinion that is not representing a business value, the business value is that a customer can speed up his development whereby he is able to introduce new services faster to his customers, which means more revenue which means increasing your competitiveness.

Another driver might be because I centralize all the important information of your SOA (by the way for the first time in history based on standards, back in my webM days we had to deal with 5 different repositories) you are able for instance to see the impact of change very quickly. You are able to see if you change a WS that it breaks one of your most important business processes. We deliver the mechanisms and information to prevent this from happening. Or what effect a WS failure will have to the other services/processes/composite applications. You can see the impact of change (Look what Pontus and Lois did at Citigroup). It’s not about change itself it’s also about the impact it might have on the business as well. At the Hartford the impact of change to new versions of a schema was very high by using us they where able to introduce change with a minimal impact to their customers which increases the customer satisfaction rate and it saved them costs. That translates easily to business value.


5:17 AM  
Blogger timbertrand said...

Kees, agreed!!

I guess I was trying to define “business” value at the simplest, most elementary level. Some of my customers in the Federal market need the “yellow pages” comparison – they do not even know what a taxonomy, or “taxonomy system” is…

IMHO – being able to categorize and find “things” within your service-oriented enterprise, in a standard fashion – is at the core – the first value of the registry. Then, - everything you state below – also becomes very true.

Have a great weekend.


5:08 PM  

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