Most critically, what is needed is not simply XML. XML is just a fancy alphabet. It gains you very little in terms of ownership and control unless you apply it intelligently.
You need standards – your standards – for semantic representation of business data – completely independent of any technology stack. You need to understand how data conforming to these standards will flow around your enterprise architecture. You need to tuck these into Appendix A of your RFT.
That is the only way you will ever get true ownership over your own enterprise. Without it, your just constantly posting (expensive) bail to take the handcuffs off something you always thought to owned but you didn’t.
I didn’t mention XML, did I? Well, Sean might know that in the Danish context, XML is high-priority in our e-government work. I shouldn’t be caught criticising our own work, but I must admit that I sometimes wonder why our politicians and top-executives need to learn all our acronyms.
Sean argues that we need standards for semantic representation of business data. True, so true. But we need much more than that. First of all, we need to “sell” the whole enterprise architecture concept as a strategic process that involves several architectural disciplines that must interoperate and build a bridge between business and technology. By using standards for semantic representation of business data, and perhaps taking the next step and making business patterns, the business is “packaged” in a way that the technology guys – for example the XML-integrators – can work with. We also need bridge builders from the technology side, and also here, standards and patterns would be a good contibution. For example, technology stacks could be measured against enterprise standards and patterns, and/or against government-wide such. A forthcoming deliveable from our EA Programme is the Reference Profile, a list of technical standards that we recommend, and that we suggest agencies to “tuck these into Appendix A of your RFT”. By thereby, hopefully, leveraging the technology side to at least a shared common denominator, we hope not only to achieve “more interoperability” across government, but also allowing enterprises/ministries to focus more on their business development and help them govern the technology development.