Today’s information economy calls for enterprises and SMEs that are capable to rapidly extract valuable information from various data sources and transform them into intelligence in order to gain (or retain) their competitive advantage, forecast future conditions and transform themselves into intelligent based and information rich entities that are going beyond their traditional business practises, by exploiting opportunities that arise to the surface during the process of information retrieval and digestion.
In this context, information managers do hold a significant position in today’s enterprises, as they are responsible for the above-mentioned process. However, their daily activities are becoming more and more difficult and pressing, as the last decade an explosion in the delivery of public sector information data sources and initiatives has been recorded, following inconsistent patterns of publishing formats and data logic (semantics), creating a very fragmented field of work. The massive growth of available data has doomed conventional methods of data integration to fail while the complexity of processes within organisations ask for more agile options to link and mash-up data in a qualified way. Availability and matching of diverse data sources is today becoming more crucial and therefore the need for standards-based tools for the information management of SMEs is growing.
The Linked Data domain is promising to provide the answer to such problems, by creating the necessary infrastructure that will interlink these vast amounts of data, however there exist two main obstacles that restrain current SME owners to adopt this culture:
- Linked Data has currently an academic rather a business focus and has a steep learning curve for the typical IT developers of the SMEs who are accustomed to work with relational databases rather than and semantic technologies and graph databases
- The availability of already published data in Linked Data format is currently quite low (when looking the overall amount of Open Data), and transformators are still missing, both for open but also for in-house, private data sources, while the availability of many of these datasets in non machine readable format makes matters even worse.
LinDA aims to provide to European SMEs a unified solution for transforming and renovating existing data sources, regardless of the original data format, greatly enhancing the ability of organisations to provide usable, machine-processable linked data, while offering the opportunity to combine and link existing public sector information with privately-owned data in the most resourceful and cost-effective manner.
In more detail, the LinDA FP7 project will provide a bouquet of tools that will allow SMEs to not only gather valuable information, but also to combine them and run complex queries, resulting into the generation and visualisation business intelligence information that was far from being produced with traditional techniques, while at the same time hiding the underlying complexity, making the life of information managers easier and their working hours more productive and beneficial for their organisations.
However, the list of advantages of the LinDA approach does not currently end with the provision of tools that are in a position to facilitate the faster, timely and accurate provision of business intelligent to SMEs (which is of course one of the major needs that SMEs strive to cover). Building on these, SMEs of any sector, can transform themselves from information receivers, to business intelligence services providers, as they will be in a position to combine their individual, private knowledge and expertise, with open and freely available datasets in order to construct intelligence rich reports and derived datasets that could be offered to their clients, while they will be also in a position to infiltrate into new sectors and markets, that do not currently posses the knowledge that these SMEs carry with them.
In this context, the SMEs adopting the LinDA outcomes may enjoy much more benefits than those of easing out their everyday information management procedures, and might start looking the power of owning and operating the LinDA tools as the vehicle that will allow them to embrace different business models and activities such as:
- Become Intelligence content providers for their sectors/clients and beyond, selling reports or subscriptions via different business models (one-off, subscription based, freemium, etc.)
- Operate a Business Intelligence Unit that will take over specific requests from clients and customers (Consultancy and Lease)
- Contribute to the LinDA libraries with their sector specific algorithms and exploit these code snippets (Software Licensing)
Discussing the potential exploitation strategies of the LinDA outcomes is a very interesting topic, occupying a discrete Task within the LinDA project, and results are expected to become evident during the course of the project.