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■■ Identify stakeholders and develop a change plan for them. Identify critical stakeholders who will be impacted by the change. Segment stakeholders into critical groups (e.g., senior management, front-line employees, human resources). This will assist in assessing the unique impact on each group and develop targeted plans to help them work through change. For each stakeholder group, you should assess the impact of the change to them, the core message that will help them move through the change, and the resources or tools that can assist in managing the change. You can assess positive and negative aspects of the change for each group. You may wish to include a change management expert on your core team to address the cultural and organizational change issues identified through this analysis.
■■ Pick a core team that will help communicate the vision. At this point, you will need to choose a small management task force that will help you communicate the vision. This task force should be both technical directors and managers. Once you have your purpose and goals in place, you can get the task force on board. Depending on the needs of your organization, you may or may not want to get all management on board at this point. You also should identify an individual in the business (outside of IT, human resources, or other staff groups) to serve as a champion of the change. This leader should be a senior executive who has embraced the change and will help lead the organizational and cultural change efforts to ensure that the company embraces the new technology. It is important that this champion be a business leader, so the change is seen from a business perspective and not just as an "IT" concept.
Only after you do this will you be able to task your organization with the changes.
At this point, you will need to make a major time investment in understanding the ideas and technologies of this book. This process will be multifaceted, because your management task force will need to understand the reasoning behind the change, but may not want to focus on the technologies. At the same
Crafting Your Company's Roadmap to the Semantic Web
time, your technical staff will need to know the technologies. The following are the steps you will need to take:
1. Get management up to speed. Your management (or management task force) will need to understand the high-level concepts of the Semantic Web, the purpose behind it, and the core business benefits it brings. This book was written with management in mind, so this may help them. Management may not want to focus on some of the technical details, but it is important that they understand the "whats" and the "whys"—not necessarily the "hows" —so they may want to understand the Semantic Web vision and application (Chapters 1 and 2 of this book). Your chief technology officer, if you have one, will need to have a very good understanding of it all.
2. Get your technical staff started. The details of the technologies of this book will be important for your technical staff to master, and you will need to make a considerable investment in training them in these technologies. Some of the chapters in this book are a good start, but your staff needs to get into the gory details that haven't been addressed here. Learning will be a journey, because some of these technologies are still evolving. If they can focus on the key technologies of this book and get involved in looking at the status of the standards and implementations of the technologies, they will be well equipped to begin helping you change. The essential focus areas of your technical staff should be as follows:
■■ XML (Chapters 3 and 6). As this is the basis for all Semantic Web technologies, much emphasis will need to be placed on learning XML and its related technologies. If you are already using XML, you should focus on data typing (like in XML Schema), namespaces, and linking documents to more semantic data via RDDL (what we call creating a "semantic chain").
■■ Web Services (Chapter 4). Web services are the key to interoperability and will be very important for your technical staff to learn. Web services wrap all the functions that manipulate your XML data in a language and platform-neutral manner.
■■ RDF, Taxonomies, and Ontologies (Chapters 5, 7, and 8). As these are key technologies of the Semantic Web, it will be important for your technical staff to understand them. Only after your technical staff has a good understanding and grasp of these technologies can your organization leverage the "killer apps" of association mining and semantic searches. In a nutshell, think of using RDF as semantic glue to link your XML marked-up documents to your taxonomy (directory tree) and ontology (formal class model showing relationships). So, a document will be XML inside, RDF outside, filed in a branch of the taxonomy and related to classes in the ontology.
Remember, learning is and should be a continuous process. Once your management and technical staff have a good understanding of the vision and the technologies, it is time for you to plan your strategy.