Issue No 3:
XML AND BUSINESS
Implications of XML,
the Successor to HTML
Major Shifts of the 90s
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - September 18, 1998: In the previous issue we discussed the coming Competitive
Armageddon. Distinct from the Year 2000 problem, where we know the exact date and time
of its coming, the competitive Armageddon will hit most organizations only a few short
years later. The problem is, we don't know exactly when and how bad it will be. For some
enterprises, its competitive destruction will be as bad as the comet in the recent film
"Deep Impact". Like some cities in that film, many organizations will not
survive. But for others who plan and act now, they will not only survive -- they will
prosper in the resulting turmoil. This newsletter -- The Enterprise Newsletter -- is
issued quarterly to help you prepare today to be one of the winners of tomorrow.
Welcome to the third issue of The Enterprise Newsletter. My name is Clive Finkelstein.
The title indicates our focus. Our Mission is for The Enterprise Newsletter to become a
key vehicle to communicate innovative applications of Information Technology to
Enterprises. While the contributions to this third issue come mostly from Information
Engineering Services Pty Ltd (IES), I do hope that you and others will also provide input
for later issues. Please feel free to share with all of us your experience, insights or
comments. Email material or suggestions to me at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Our objective is to help you and your enterprise become a "best practice"
example of the application of IT to business. We want you to become "10 out of
10". For emphasis, we use the acronym "TEN" to refer to The Enterprise
TEN - The Enterprise Newsletter
Back to Contents.
In the 1990s, we are experiencing three major shifts, or transformations, in the
Computer Industry. Their impact extends far beyond that industry. They are also
transforming business and society. They are moving us from the Industrial Age to the
The First Shift has already occurred: the impact that the
World Wide Web is having on business today. With the introduction of web browsers in the
early 90s, the Internet -- already 20 years old at that time -- moved into the mainstream
as organizations rushed to establish their own web site.
The first generation web sites -- using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) -- were used
as billboards to the world. They provided static advertising and marketing information for
the benefit of customers and suppliers.
The second generation web sites are now being deployed to add interactivity and
additional content that provide further assistance, but they are still essentially
"static" in their ability to bring real, bottom-line benefit to the business.
The Electronic Commerce sites also being established today are part of the third
generation. They do have the potential to generate revenue and profit for the business.
But many of these electronic storefronts are like the Lemonade stands of our childhood --
the first tentative ventures into a new world of business. More is needed before the full
potential of Electronic Commerce can be realized, as I will shortly explain.
The Second Shift began in the mid 90s: the emergence of Java
as a programming language able to be executed anywhere regardless of platform or operating
system. The shift to Java is gathering steam, but it will take many years yet before its
full promise of "write once, run anywhere" can be realized.
Java has been one of the greatest threats to Microsoft's domination of the desktop. Its
incorporation as a standard programming language into many operating systems is well
underway. For example, IBM has already included Java in its OS/390, AIX and OS/400
operating systems, as has Hewlett-Packard. Of course Sun, the developer of Java, has also
included it in their Solaris operating system.
Microsoft may still succeed in converting the open architecture of Java into a language
that is "Open, but Windows-Dependent". But the impetus behind the shift to the
Internet -- with its open architecture reality -- may now be too great even for Microsoft
to succeed in usurping Java for its own benefit.
The Third Shift is the focus of this TEN issue: the emergence
of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) in the late 90s. This shift is just starting. It
promises to be as significant as the first two. It has the ability to bring real,
bottom-line benefits to business -- in cost-reduction, in greater efficiency, in greater
competition and in greater revenue. The following topics address XML in more detail. Links
are provided so you can learn even more.
Back to Contents.
The coming two years are critical to planning and preparing for the new world of
business that will soon be upon us. There are two factors that need to be considered. They
relate to Senior Management Interest and to Computer Industry Interest.
Senior Management Interest
Senior management now recognize the importance of IT as a competitive
weapon. Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Engineering provide methods that management
and IT staff can use to ensure that information systems are aligned with corporate goals.
Most industries have examples of organizations that are achieving this alignment
spectacularly. This has been due to active involvement of their senior management. It has
been due to the catalyst role of their Data Administration (DA) departments. It has also
been due to the active contribution of DAMA (the DAta Management Association). But these
messages need to be communicated more widely.
Computer Industry Interest
Just starting to emerge is one of the most significant developments of
the Computer industry since the World Wide Web and Java moved to their present positions
of importance. For the next 2 - 5 years this will be one of the most important aspects of
the Internet, and of systems development in general. It has the potential to move Metadata
and Data Administration also into the mainstream of systems development.
I am referring to the emergence of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) - the successor
to HTML for the Internet, Intranets and Extranets. XML incorporates Metadata in any
document, to define the content and structure of that document and any associated (or
linked) resources. It has the potential to transform the integration of structured data
(such as in relational databases) with unstructured data (such as in text reports and/or
XML uses the Extensible Style Language (XSL) and the Extensible Linking Language (XLL)
to achieve this integration. For example, XML, XSL and XLL allow the easy integration of
dissimilar systems for multiple world-wide customers and suppliers in any industry. It
permits the ready integration of those systems, regardless of whether they are legacy
systems and databases, current EDI systems or Electronic Commerce. It represents the
future direction of Metadata and the important role that Data Administration will take in
To illustrate some XML concepts, the following example shows the inclusion of metadata
tags (surrounded by < and >) for customer fields - such as <name>. This
defines the text that follows as a customer name, until terminated by the ending tag
- <name>XYZ Corporation</name>
<street>123 First Street</street>
From this simple example of XML metadata, we can see how the meaning of the text
that follows is defined. We can also see that Search Engines of the future can use these
definitions to be more accurate in identifying information to satisfy a specific query.
Even more effective applications become possible -- such as an organization
defining the metadata used by each of its suppliers' separate inventory systems. This will
enable that organization to place orders via the Internet directly with its suppliers'
systems, for fulfilment of product orders that it requires.
Interest in XML, Metadata and Data Administration will grow strongly over the next 2 -
5 years. The XML specifications are now essentially complete, while the XSL and XLL
specifications are still evolving. Some XML support is already included in Microsoft
Internet Explorer 4.0. We will first see XML supported more completely in the next
versions of Internet Explorer and of Netscape Communicator. This will shortly be followed
by XML support in DBMS products, in CASE and Modelling tools and in Client / Server
More information on XML can be found by going to - http://www.xmlinfo.com/.
Microsoft has developed a number of scenarios of typical XML applications at - http://microsoft.com/xml/scenario/intro.asp.
Back to Contents.
There are steps that you can take now, to prepare today for the coming
shift to XML.
XML assumes that your metadata has already been defined. This is necessary
not only for the new systems that you want to develop, but also for the legacy systems
that you may need to integrate with those new systems. XML will enable this
integration to be carried out dynamically. The following self-study courses on data
modelling and metadata are designed to assist you in this preparation.
Certified Business Data Modeller Course Series
A knowledge of Data Modelling will enable you to define the metadata
required by XML. It will also enable you to eliminate redundant data versions and
redundant processes, to develop integrated data bases for the Internet and Intranets. This
is not just the responsibility of Data Administrators. It requires business knowledge as
well. The Certified Business Data Modeller (CBDM)
course series has been developed to assist you, specifically for self-study use by
business staff and IT staff.
The CBDM series comprises two concepts courses:
Data Modelling Concepts and
Business Normalisation Concepts, together
with the Data Modelling Case Study Workshop.
This workshop enables you to apply the skills that you have learned in the concepts
courses to a real-life case study. Your case study solution is entered into the Student
Edition of Visible Advantage, an enterprise modelling tool that is supplied as part of the
CBDM series. The resulting encyclopedia is then emailed for the CBDM Exam, to qualify as a
Certified Business Data Modeller.
We have found that many organizations have used the CBDM series to train
both business staff and IT staff very cost effectively. They are then able to work
together jointly on projects in a design partnership, developing a Strategic Information
Systems Plan (SISP) as described in TEN #2 and developing detailed
data models, for early delivery of priority systems to take advantage of the competitive
opportunities that are now opening up.
The courses can be taken at work or at home - at any convenient time or
place. Three alternative delivery options are available:
- By PowerPoint delivery
- By Corporate Intranet delivery
- By inhouse Classroom delivery.
The latter two delivery options are very cost-effective if more than 20
people from the one organization are to be trained. They also enable a tailored case study
to be used, which is developed specifically for your organization. More detail is
available by looking at the Course Delivery
Options below. From this point, you can then place an online order for the CBDM
course series specifying the delivery method of your choice.
By acting now, you will be taking a positive step to develop business and
IT skills in data modelling that can be used for data base design and client / server
development today, and for XML development tomorrow. This will help you ensure the
survival and prosperity of your organization for the future.
Use the following links to read how these skills can be easily learned by
both business and IT staff:
Back to Contents.