Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Distributed versus centralised data capture

One of the key changes in the public domain created by software has been the ability of millions of people to enter information into a centralised source. There are two examples of this; one the general updating of information through web pages aggregated through Google and the other the specific updating of social information and its aggregation through Facebook. Many organisations have identified this change and leveraged its value as a distribution channel for marketing and sales and more recently as a source of customer feedback. The central element of success is that millions of people add information that is then aggregated and re-purposed either through a web search or through a pre-designed portal.

What's interesting though is that business to business software is yet to take full advantage of this concept. Most areas where this type of architecture has been developed is in the "non-sensitive" areas of Intranets and customer relationship management systems. Anything financial is still collected and then keyed in at a central source. This puts a great constraint on the system and results in real time business information being delayed as well as their being a lack of breadth and depth in the information being presented.

UniPhi is one of the first business applications that requires the distribution of data entry for it to be a success. The concept is similar to the Facebook one, get hundreds of end users entering in their piece of the puzzle directly into a centralised system and then present this information aggregated and re-purposed into the slice relevant to the user logging in. The executive running a company with 55,000 people can know how many projects are late, on schedule and ahead of schedule across their company in the same way as an individual at Facebook could theoretically aggregate the 800 million Facebook users into those that like Star Wars and those that don't.

This distributed data entry model is the biggest productivity improver since the invention of the PC. Companies that recognise this now and implement the change programmes to take advantage of it are going to out perform their peers like never before.