What Is A Digital Nervous System
"Digital Nervous System" describes a vision of how the IT infrastructure of an enterprise can be considered analogous to the autonomic nervous system of a biological organism. Bill Gates, of Microsoft, made extensive use of the term in his 1999 book Business @ the Speed of Thought. The phrase actually predates his usage, but remains popularly associated with Gates.
Gates offered the following explanation as part of a keynote speech at Microsoft's Second Annual CEO Summit in 1998.
If you think of the human body, what does our nervous system let us do? It lets us hear, see, take input. It lets us think and analyze and plan. It lets us make decisions and communicate and take action. Every company essentially has a nervous system: companies take inputs, they think, they plan, they communicate, they take action. The question is how does the nervous system in your company operate? Is the IT infrastructure really adding value?
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer attempted to explain the digital nervous system by saying the following:
The term 'digital nervous system' is kind of an interesting one. The analogy, of course, is to the biological nervous system where you always have the information you need. You always are alert to the most important things, and you block out the information that's not important. And companies really need to have that same kind of thing: the information that's valuable getting to the people who need to know about it.
Why Should I Care About Digital Nervous System
In modern times, an enterprise must be flexible, agile and adaptive, and able to respond rapidly and with great precision in order to react to changing market conditions. An enterprise with a fully developed Digital Nervous System has the technological capabilities necessary to sense, analyze and interpret the nonstop cacophony of noise originating from it's environment, and detect the most important signals from amidst all the noise. These technological capabilities serve as the infrastructure to support a sense & respond management capability, and support the transition to an Adaptive Enterprise. These same technological capabilities are also a foundational competence necessary to become a Learning Organization and facilitate improved Knowledge Transfer and innovation.
How Can A Digital Nervous System Benefit My Organization
Markets, competitors and customers are changing faster than ever, and organizations which can't adapt and react in time with the environment are doomed to go the way of the dinosaur. In order to survive, firms must innovate faster, more accurately match their products to customer demands, deliver their message to customers with greater precision, and learn faster than their competitors. A Digital Nervous System supports all of these goals by providing the infrastructure needed to consume data and information, parse, filter, sort and analyze that data, and extract meaningful information which is delivered to everyone in your organization who needs in... at the right time, and in the right place.
How Do I Implement A Digital Nervous System
A complete Digital Nervous System requires a coherent, integrated Information Technology system, in which all pieces of the corporate infrastructure "speak the same language". A Digital Nervous System is built on Open Standards, common protocols, standardized schemas, automated processes, as well as advanced algorithms for analytics, data mining, machine learning and information retrieval. No one firm provides all the components needed to turn your IT systems into a Digital Nervous System, but Fogbeam Labs can provide many of the most important tools that you will need to begin implementing your own Digital Nervous System.
Several Fogbeam Labs products, including our Fogcutter Enterprise Suite, which features our Open Source Enterprise Social Network - Quoddy Enterprise, our Information Discovery Platform - Neddick Enterprise and our Enterprise Search offering - Heceta Enterprise, provide an essential suite of capabilities that a Digital Nervous System depends on. We can provide the necessary infrastructure to support real-time access to crucial business events, detailed context around those events - including content from every knowledge & content repository in your enterprise - and rapid correlation, filtering, routing and analysis of signals from both within and outside your organization.
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The first paragraph of this page was derived from the same source material as the related text on the corresponding Wikipedia entry, which was largely written by our own prhodes.