Fogbeam Labs The FogBlog

From the Intranet to the Enterprise Knowledge Network

by Phillip Rhodes

Posted on Monday August 31, 2015 at 06:20PM in Technology

Beginning from the mid 1990's, companies have been using Web technologies (HTTP, HTML, CSS, etc.) to build internal webs for knowledge sharing and collaboration. The term "Intranet" has been adopted to describe these internal knowledge sharing systems, and Intranets have become ubiquitous in the years since.

But if the "Intranet" was the application of World Wide Web technologies inside organizations, we think it's time to start talking about the use of Semantic Web technologies inside of companies. At Fogbeam Labs we are referring to this approach as the Enterprise Knowledge Network (EKN).

Of course, Semantic Web technologies have been around for some time now, so why is it now time to start applying them inside the enterprise? We believe the time is now due to the confluence of a number of related factors:

  1. Simply put, the technology has gotten better, and we understand it better. We, as a technology community, now understand how to develop and apply "SemWeb" tech more effectively than we did 10 years ago. And, the tools have gotten better, the standards have gotten better, we have more experience.
  2. Open Source Software has made the technology radically more accessible. In years past, assembling a high-value SemWeb solution meant using expensive, proprietary software. But in 2015, everything you need to deploy SemWeb tech, and build an Enterprise Knowledge Network, is available as OSS or Free Software. Of course commercial vendors like Fogbeam Labs offer support and services for a fee, but the overall cost for this level of technology solution has plummeted. And, using Open Source Software is a better value proposition in many other regards anyway. Open Source is even shaping the future at Microsoft now.
  3. More data. The burgeoning interest in "Open Data" over the past few years has resulted in an explosion of available data, especially from government sources. At the same time, projects like DBPedia and WikiData are hard at working making the content from Wikipedia available as part of the Semantic Web. And the Linking Open Data initiative catalogs a ridiculously large number of datasets which are now available as semantic data. This data, combined with your internal data, allows for unprecedented opportunities to mine for new insights and opportunities.
  4. Cheaper, faster computers, and cloud computing. - The simple truth is, using SemWeb tech takes a lot of computing "horsepower". And 10 years ago, that much horsepower was either not available, or was prohibitively expensive. Now, thanks to Moore's Law and the advent of IaaS providers like AWS, it is possible to deploy massive computing resources at reasonable prices.

In short, there's really no reason to delay moving from an Intranet, to an Enterprise Knowledge Network. Now is the time to take advantage of Semantic Web technology to integrate all of the knowledge spread across your enterprise, making the right information and knowledge available to the people who need it, when they need it - sometimes even before they know they need it. An Enterprise Knowledge Network unifies all of the disparate repositories you have in your organization - Document Management servers, wikis, blogs, shared folders, databases, and applications, and lets you navigate through the knowledge-space of your firm, quickly and easily.

For more information on how you can move from an old-fashioned Intranet, to an Enterprise Knowledge Network, consult these two Fogbeam papers. If you have questions about how to move forward, contact Fogbeam Labs and let us help.

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