The grand vision of the semantic web is that every piece of information on the public web is marked up with data describing its meaning. On the way to achieving that lofty but highly ambitious aim, a more achievable goal has emerged, and one that businesses could well pursue internally.
The ‘web of linked data’ describes a state in which individual items of data – be they train times, DVD titles or national crime statistics – have unique links or uniform resource identifiers (URIs). This allows any number of systems to retrieve web-based data automatically, and for them all to be up to date as long as the original linked record is correct.
This approach could well be adopted for internal data management. Establishing a single, permanent link to, for example, an account number or inventory code would allow multiple departments to access that data without creating multiple copies across the organisation.
According to Paul Miller, an author and consultant on the semantic web, most enterprise organisations already have the technology and skills to lay the foundations of an internal ‘web of linked data’.
The viability of this approach in the enterprise is significantly boosted by the fact that Oracle, the enterprise database market leader, supports many of the relevant web standards.