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Context essential for data management success

Michael Beckley
July 26, 2012

Businesses are facing a deluge of data. Storing this information is hard enough, but actually using it often seems impossible. Companies have to somehow synthesize information from unstructured sources, transactional records and traditional locations in a cohesive way that allows that data to be used effectively. Accomplishing this requires a gargantuan effort from companies, unless they are equipped with the right tools.

According to a recent IT Business Edge report, business process management software that includes the capacity to add context to data is key to simplifying data management and analysis. Traditional BPM tools are focused primarily on automating basic data handling processes and integrating information from a variety of sources. While helpful, these solutions do not always do enough to deal with contemporary enterprise data management needs.

The news source explained that data rarely has a context in the enterprise, which creates the core problem when it comes to effectively handling information. For the most part, data that comes into an application is filtered into a database where it is associated with an application that is used to access it. However, most of these applications do not provide any business context because they are not specifically attached to a business' process.

The report said Appian, a leading BPM software developer, is working to solve this problem by integrating metadata into its BPM solutions to better connect data to business processes. Appian CTO Michael Beckley told the news source that the company's BPM platform helps companies develop a context for data by using metadata to attach specific pieces of information with the business processes they relate to. This allows employees to better understand the broad context of information and use it more effectively. Essentially, it turns BPM into a social tool that aligns data from a variety of sources to help turn information into process-level improvements.

Adding context to data can provide a major operational boost in an era in which businesses are dealing with new types of information that can be difficult to synthesize with operations. Between user-generated content on social media sites, corporate social media activity, data generated by mobile device users and information generated by cloud users, companies have a diverse range of data sources to deal with. Adding context to information existing in applications can help employees better prioritize data analysis processes and use the right information at the right time to improve operations.