Firms tackle data sharing

User/supplier consortium the Open Group is setting up a special focus group, the Information Centric Forum, to address problems...

User/supplier consortium the Open Group is setting up a special focus group, the Information Centric Forum, to address problems in how the IT industry supports users' requirements to share business data.

The Open Group was yesterday (19 April) hosting a meeting at its Boundaryless Information Flow Conference in Brussels, where a panel of users was set to discuss the problems they face both sharing data internally and among customers and business partners.

User organisations that were expected at the Brussels event included Boeing, GlaxoSmithKline, Lockheed Martin, Procter & Gamble and Shell. Supplier organisations due to attend the meeting included Computer Associates, Hitachi, IBM Global Services and NEC Corporation.

Despite the development of data exchange standards such as XML and EDI, Chris Harding, chairman of the Information Centric Forum, said, "The data in today's IT, when assembled from multiple systems, is not good enough to make business decisions. If organisations can improve the quality of the infor- mation they work with, they could improve the way they work."

Terry Blevins, chief information officer at the Open Group, said one such problem area affects small and medium-sized enterprises that work with the large automotive manufacturers.

A manufacturer might insist that SMEs use a specific tool to provide data in a format it can understand. However, the SMEs may also have a relationship with a rival car manufacturer, which could mandate its own data tool.

"There is no value add in SMEs learning all these tools," said Blevins, who believes improved information interoperability is required. "We can foresee a set of standards evolving that reside in users' infrastructure," he said.

Such standards could form some kind of "information fusion engine" which would be able to take information from different sources and present it in the right format for the user.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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