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On architectures (Enterprise, business, IT, SOA, and solutions)

The first time that an IT professional showed me a plan of IT architecture, he shared a map of a plant on an A0 format (1 square meter). This map showed buildings with their IT infrastructure. This included the location of the servers, which software was running on which server, and even the cable layout. This map of IT architecture helped the poor man find his way around the servers that he had to administer. The plant in question was very big. His physical condition also deserved a lot of respect, because of this huge map roll that he had to carry everywhere he went, to save himself from getting lost. Compared to the Michelin guide you would use in a car, this man’s IT architecture map was hell (European city planning still seems to be popular as a framework for IT architecture).


The effect of coffee on the outcome of different meeting formats

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Symbolism in management and their unexpected impact are fields of study on their own.

Strangely enough I experienced coffee as a symbol a few times in the work environment. To show social involvement, fair trade coffee was distributed in the organization. To show care for the health of the workers, organic coffee was adopted. When the organization wanted to display its cultural involvement the Italian coffees and sophisticated derivatives became available. In many organizations coffee was free of charge for many years. I remember the so called 'coffee ladies', unprecedented in popularity, bringing the liquid gold to the smallest and most remote offices in the buildings. The arrival of those ladies, with their caddies strategically placed, was the signal for the colleagues in the designated perimeter to meet. During those short meetings not only the last gossips were exchanged but also processes were being oiled. Meaning that, where blocked activities got unblocked. Priorities were adapted, again for the benefit of the process in which the meeting parties were involved. No agenda, so no work disturbance was experienced; problems were solved around a cup of coffee. Coffee was the catalyst around which colleagues found creative solutions to blocking situations and all kinds of issues.


Why not to use entity-relationship diagrams to describe semantic assets if OWL-DL ontologies are considered?

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Entity Relationship diagrams get several notations. One of the most popular is the UML notation, then it is called a class diagram. This UML diagram represents the conceptual objects for object oriented programming or a data model.

Abstraction made of the levels of detail which are possible in diagramming; the main reasons for not using entity-relationship models (ERM) are the following:


A Core Civil Services Ontology

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My colleague, Ivo Velitchkov, and myself had a lot of different opinions, discussions,  arguments, ... but we had one goal in mind: we wanted to model a generic enterprise in the public sector. Hence the enterprise architecture represented semantically.

Achieving that goal was in fact, as you can read from the above, a lot of fun Smile. The main reason is we have different backgrounds and concepts are interpreted differently according to that background and that's a source of richness.

Just like other disciplines, Enterprise Architecture as an art, tries to capture real operational problems which are then abstracted to provide generic answers. This is quite different in semantic technologies: reality is described without the many abstraction levels proper to IT traditional technologies. Semantic technologies have their roots in phylosophy (ontologies with their taxonomies), further specialised in mathematics (set theory) to support logic applied to the described reality. This logic aims at deriving more information than what is asserted.

Finding the right approach was a balance which was not easy to find but incredibly rewarding and learnful for the 2 of us.


As a consultant in the field of finance, with a specialization in securities handling, did you feel any concern preceding the financial crisis ?

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In March 2008 by E-mail, in June 2008 by registered letter, we asked for proper action from international and national control authorities to avoid a financial disaster.

Unfortunately, end of September, the worse happened.

The finance ontology is a substantial element in avoiding the same happening in the future. 


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