Concept Migration … First You Have a Vocabulary Problem, Then You Have a Data ProblemWhen one company acquires another, or two companies merge, there is inevitably much consternation over data migration. Indeed, it’s always a hard problem. Underlying every data migration problem, however, is a concept migration problem. By ‘concept migration’, I really mean integration of business vocabularies. After all, business vocabulary comes before data. Consider the case of two airlines merging their frequent-flyer programs. (I live in Houston – Can you guess which airlines I might be talking about?) The airlines need business rules for how concepts from the respective programs line up with each other. (At the onset I’m sure they won’t.) Even better, the airlines should start with a business strategy for the business problem (what we call a Policy Charter) and set of business policies, then develop the business rules. A corresponding problem exists in building a new business capability. An existing set of concepts exists (probably implicit in the data and not well-formed). You also have a revised set of explicit concepts in the form of a structured business vocabulary (concept model, also called fact model). Yes, you will probably have a data migration problem, but first you have a concept migration problem. So before your business model is complete, you need to develop an appropriate set of business ‘migration’ rules to specify how the transition in business practices should take place. In other words, you need to ask:
Are there concepts in the current business capability that need to be reorganized for, or ‘mapped’ to, the new or revised concepts of the future-form business capability?Here is an example ..
Current Situation: Currently marketing reps can make hand-shake deals with customers on the road (‘road deals’). In the past, these deals were usually based on long-standing connections, so proper documentation of the details (often missing) was not too important.
With faster rates of turn-over and more specialized products this traditional business practice has become problematic. So the business will no longer support road deals. A new concept is being introduced for ‘spontaneous’ deals, called spot deal, which provides better coordination.
When the future-form business capability is deployed, however, some road deals will still be in force. How should these existing road deals be handled?
Business Tactic (in the Policy Charter): ‘Road deals’ are to be discontinued.
Business Transition Rule: Any “road deal” made in the past by a marketing rep that has never been formulated into a contract must be considered a spot deal.A business transition rule is really about semantic migration. That fancy-sounding term isn’t needed though. At issue simply is knowing exactly what the words we use mean. Tackle that issue as a business problem, and the system solutions will fall into place. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My business partner, Gladys S.W. Lam, will be using the airline example in one of her talks at the Business Rules Forum Conference http://www.businessrulesforum.com/ Oct 28 – Nov 1 in Ft. Lauderdale.