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Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Standards: UML gets better, but is mobile web getting worse?

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As an old guy, I often look at blogs and tweets with perhaps the wrong mindset, so here is a question for those who have been good enough to take the time to read my posts.

Should I blog my personal opinions, which might be unsubstantiated by facts. Or should I blog on, and link to, information that’s personally helpful for me to reach towards an understanding of this fast-moving and changing environment?

My personal inclination is to the latter, and my personal choice in the types of blogs I read is equally factual, but I would welcome some feedback. Please!

The slightly tenuous link is that ‘mobility’ based activities tend to be short and opinionated whereas web-based activities tend to be deeper and involve more factual content. So in keeping with my own inclinations I always look at initiatives in the industry that enable improved interactions or simplify deployments, etc.

NIEM: A Case on UML standards

Some of the most interesting get very little publicity because I guess they don’t have something to sell and are therefore not ‘marketed’ strongly. An interesting case is the US Federal Program called NIEM (National Information Exchange Model).  Described as ‘a national program supported by federal government, NIEM connects communities of people who share a common need to exchange information to advance their missions’. NIEM is not a data exchange, or database, or even necessarily the same thing as Open Data. Instead, it is a real and practical attempt to produce workable common vocabularies for various government and industry interchanges.

I was reminded about NIEM and its work on 20th Feb 2012 when an industry-focused subgroup presented two Unified Modeling Language files to the Object Management Group, OMG. This is in response to an agreement the year before for NIEM to develop UML profiles in support of their vision and initiative. What is interesting about this work is that it is to help tool and product vendors incorporate these standards into their products. With the carrot being that thoseUS government and organizations dealing with the US Government are given preferred status to purchasing. Moves such as this with guaranteed markets often do work. So, just as the use of ‘models’ is very much back in favor, it is also well worth taking a look at the details of the topic of data exchanges between enterprises – in my humble opinion!

Mobility and New Propriety Platforms

Also on the topic of standards comes a blog from Dion Hinchcliffe: an interesting opinion on how mobility platforms are creating new proprietary platforms – disruptions to the ‘open’ web and internet. This actually came out at the end of December last year and I have waited for some time to see how it shaped up against the announcements at Mobile World Congress, MWC. For a good range of reviews see cnet.

Frankly it was mostly an arms race around specifications of devices from a range of manufacturers, although it does feature the first preview of Microsoft Windows 8. Interesting that the company – perhaps considered as the most-defining of the PC era – should pick a non-PC event to showcase its all important next generation platform. Apple not to be outdone announced a new version of the iPad just after the show.

The show very much confirmed the dominance of Android, with Google claiming that 300 million devices are now live and running on Android and with 850,000 new activations a day. Apple didn’t give any figures. As a user of an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy Nexus) and an Apple iPad it’s easy to see why with the huge range of great apps and widgets for both. And that brings it back to Dion’s point in his blog the web versus mobile apps.  His well argued point, that I recommend reading in full, is that the mobility revolution has, for various reasons (including good marketing and the simplification of development which led to an explosion of ‘apps’) seduced people away from the content-oriented ‘open’ web.

Risk of a New Lock-in Model

Frankly I hadn’t thought of this until I read this piece, not that I haven’t recognized it (see my previous blog on the growth in enterprise app stores). So, is this going to turn into a new lock-in model? And if it is driven by Bring Your Own Device, BYOD, then it might seem the enterprise may not be making some of the choices. More than ever, all of this argues for enterprises to determine a strategy and policies quickly or risk finding themselves committed to a course of action without even realizing it. For example, it might be difficult for the CIO to propose Windows 8 as the broad corporate standard for 2013 if the most aggressive and business savvy part of an enterprise’s management and knowledge workers have built an unassailable position on Apple or Android.

About the author

Andy Mulholland
Andy Mulholland
Capgemini Global Chief Technology Officer until his retirement in 2012, Andy was a member of the Capgemini Group management board and advised on all aspects of technology-driven market changes, together with being a member of the Policy Board for the British Computer Society. Andy is the author of many white papers, and the co-author three books that have charted the current changes in technology and its use by business starting in 2006 with ‘Mashup Corporations’ detailing how enterprises could make use of Web 2.0 to develop new go to market propositions. This was followed in May 2008 by Mesh Collaboration focussing on the impact of Web 2.0 on the enterprise front office and its working techniques, then in 2010 “Enterprise Cloud Computing: A Strategy Guide for Business and Technology leaders” co-authored with well-known academic Peter Fingar and one of the leading authorities on business process, John Pyke. The book describes the wider business implications of Cloud Computing with the promise of on-demand business innovation. It looks at how businesses trade differently on the web using mash-ups but also the challenges in managing more frequent change through social tools, and what happens when cloud comes into play in fully fledged operations. Andy was voted one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and is grateful to readers of Computing Weekly who voted the Capgemini CTOblog the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years.

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