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Create Your Organization's Strategy
Now that you have management and the technical staff on board, it is time to tailor a knowledge management strategy for your organization. Here are the things that you will undoubtedly have to task your organization to do:
1. Set detailed technical goals. Once your management and technical staff are on board, it is time to meet with them and determine the technical goals that you want to achieve. These are most likely the goals that you will want to implement:
■■ Mark up your documents in XML. This will be essential and will most likely be your first step. At first, your technical staff should come up with XML schemas to define your formats. After you do this, all new document development should have XML markup. It is important that your data content be separate from your presentation, and style sheets can be used to add presentation to content later. Tools will be helpful in accomplishing this goal—many tools are available that will help your employees author new documents in this manner. Depending on your legacy data, you may want to determine whether or not to mark up old documents. (If not, one solution may be to create Web service interfaces to existing databases of data.)
■■ Expose your applications as Web services. To take advantage of interoperability and advanced concepts such as Web service orchestration, you will need your technical staff to expose your application's interfaces as self-describing "knowledge objects." The way to think about access to your data is with a goal of delivering small, modular data building blocks (like LEGOs) that can be assembled by the using organization.
■■ Build Web service orchestration tools. Once your Web services are in place, have your technical staff focus on how they can be used together in Web service orchestration to accomplish complex tasks.
■■ Establish a corporate registry. An internal UDDI or ebXML registry will be important in allowing your applications to register themselves and query for Web services. Publishing the WSDL for your Web service applications will allow applications to dynamically discover the APIs of your applications.
■■ Build ontologies. Because XML merely provides facilities and syntax for specifying a data structure that can be semantically processed,
Crafting Your Company's Roadmap to the Semantic Web
higher-level semantic constructs will need to be overlaid on your XML marked-up documents. Ontologies constitute these semantic constructs. Ontologies can be difficult and time-consuming to build, since they represent the semantics of domains, though the difficulty and costs are coming down drastically. By definition, ontologies are intended to be reusable, and with the emergence of Semantic Web ontology languages such as RDF/S and OWL, more and more ontologies are being created, and these can be incorporated over time into your own ontologies. These ontologies are upper ontologies, middle ontologies, and domain ontologies. They can be brought into your company and refined by you, saving you creation costs, enabling you to structure your knowledge coherently, and helping you to establish or participate in wider community semantics. Also, some ontology tools are emerging that try to "induce" (generalize) the concepts and relationships of a potential ontology from huge document collections. These can help you get a handle on the domains of interest to your company, provide candidates for your growing ontology, and assist the ontologists and domain experts who are building and maintaining your ontologies. Finally, once you have built or acquired ontologies, you can consider using automated inference tools that can work on those ontologies and their knowledge bases. These can be intelligent Web services in their own right or can assist or interoperate with other services and applications, to help bring your information technology closer to human conceptual levels, greatly increasing your corporate productivity levels.
Use tools that will help your production process. Tools that allow your employees to annotate and sign documents with version control will be very helpful. These tools must be flexible to fit into your workflow process and take advantage of XML technologies (RDF, XTM, XSLT, XML Signature). These tools must be able to annotate, assert trust, and help you with document markup.
Integrate search tools. You will want to build or buy search tools that allow your employees to do searches of your documents (semantic searches based on your ontology, Web service searches, association searches). You may want to build or buy agents that can be programmed to automatically perform rule-based searches.
Use an enterprise portal as a catalyst for knowledge engineering.
Enterprise portals are natural aggregation points. A portal effort is an opportunity to integrate knowledge management into the organization and can be your organization's user interface to your search tools and Web services that you have developed.