Seek and You May or May Not Find – In Praise of Knowledge Bases


“Seek and Ye Shall Find” probably works in general life but not when you are looking for digital data.

Decision-making in the 1980s used to be characterized by “too much information, too little information, or information in the wrong place”.

The view was that in the absence of proper search and filtering options, too much information could encumber decision-making, in the absence of sufficient information bad decisions would be the likely outcome and if whatever information was available could not be found, this too would reduce the quality of decision making.

The other factor is the timeliness of information.  Assuming you have sufficient information and you can find it, the timeliness of information is key to making real-time decisions.  Most organizations today do analysis after-the-fact which helps long term outcomes but not on-the-fly decision making.

I noticed the other day a discussion regarding the “importance” of data warehouses for Business Process Improvement. Sure, historical data, given sophisticated data mining tools, can be valuable but not for strategic planning or for high-level operations planning. For this, you need a KnowledgeBase.

I find there is a lot of confusion regarding Data Warehouses versus KnowledgeBases. Both contain information, historical and current.  I suspect very few contain information regarding the future.

The easy way to differentiate between these two types of information storage facilities is to ask how the underlying data storage facilities are set up.  If you have to know where to look to find something, in the absence of a fully indexed Data Warehouse chances are you have a Data Warehouse. KBases on the other hand, in the main, provide free-form data search capabilities.

When you want to look up an address in a Data Warehouse, it’s important to set your focus on the “address” field, if the address you are looking for is hidden in some other field, you may or may not be able to find it.  A KBase search on the other hand for an address is likely to result in ‘hits’ across the entire data space.

Are we likely to see “feature wars” between manufacturers of Data Warehouse software versus manufacturers of Knowledge Base software?

Unlikely, assuming people wake up to the fact that when you are processing transactions you want routing all of the data you collect to a Data Warehouse and routing of some of the data to a Knowledge Base.

The open nature of Knowledge Bases is that you can organize data relating to multiple record types (e.g. apples and oranges) in separate “trees” in the same data space and engage searches across the entire multi-entity data space.

About kwkeirstead@civerex.com

Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, healthcare services delivery, job shop manufacturing and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2017 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
This entry was posted in Database Technology, Decision Making, Operational Planning, Planning, Strategic Planning and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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