Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reach, Richness, Agility and Assurance

The concept of TotalData™ (which I helped to develop when I worked for Reply) implements the four dimensions of data and information - reach, richness, assurance and agility. But where did these dimensions come from?

I first encountered these four dimensions in discussions of net-centricity, which spilled out from the US defence world into the commercial world over ten years ago. Trying to dig up the original material recently, I found a military version in a report written in 2005 by the Association for Enterprise Integration (AFEI) for the Net-Centric Operations Industry Forum (NCOIF).

Going further back, the first two dimensions - reach and richness - had been discussed by Evans and Wurster before the turn of the millennium. They argued that old technologies had forced you to choose (either/or) between reach and richness, whereas the new technologies emerging at that time allowed you to have both/and.

Source: Evans and Wurster 1997

The authors also introduced the concept of affiliation, by which they meant transparency of relationships - for example, knowing whether the intermediary agent is working for you or working for the other side. Or both. And knowing who really wrote all those "customer reviews".

According to the authors, it would be these three factors - reach, richness and affiliation - that would determine the success of e-commerce. Clearly some sectors would be more open to these factors than others - according to The Economist in February 2000, online trade was then dominated by business-to-business (B2B). The three factors identified some of the challenges facing other sectors, including professional services, in going online. As Duncan, Barton and McKellar argued for legal firms, "The Web provides Reach, but offering Richness and the sense of community required for creating and sustaining relationships with visitors could be difficult."

Meanwhile, new architectural thinking had shown ways of resolving the traditional trade-off between speed (agility) and quality (assurance). (A very early version of this was known as Bimodal IT. Some industry analysts are still pushing this idea.)

When agility and assurance were added to reach and richness to produce the four dimensions of net-centricity, affiliation appears to have been divided between community (reach) and trust (assurance). But the importance of affiliation was never entirely forgotten. As Commander Chakraborty observes, "organisational affiliations and culture ... play very significant roles in a networked environment."

So whatever happened to net-centricity? It has been replaced by data-centricity, which, as Dan Risacher argues, is probably a more accurate term anyway. Or as we they call it at Reply, TotalData™.

Notes and References

Much of the original material for the NCOW Reference Model is no longer available. This includes the pages referenced from Wikipedia: NCOW (retrieved 8 August 2017). Net-centric concepts were incorporated into DODAF Version 1.5 (April 2007). The UK Ministry of Defence developed something similar, which they called Network-Enabled Capability. The civilian version is known as Network-Centric Organization.

Define and Sell (Economist, 24 Feb 2000)

AFEI, Industry Best Practices in Achieving Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) (NCOIF, April 2005)

Devbrat Chakraborty, Net-Centricity to Ne(x)t-Centricity (SP's Navel Forces, Issue 4/2011)

Peter Duncan, Karen Barton and Patricia McKellar, Reach and Rich: the new economics of information and the provision of on-line legal services in the U.K. (16th Bileta Annual Conference, 2001)

Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster, Strategy and the New Economics of Information (Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct 1997)

Philip Evans and Thomas Wurster, Blown to Bits - How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy (Boston Consulting Group, 2000) - excerpts. See also reviews by McRae and O'Keefe.

Hamish McRae, The business world: Three factors that lead to successful e-commerce (Independent, 17 November 1999) - review of Evans and Wurster (2000)

Jordan Moskowitz, Richness versus Reach (Service Channel, 29 Jan 2013)

Terry O'Keefe, The strategy of information: Richness and reach (Atlanta Business Journal, 1 November 1999) - review of Evans and Wurster (2000)

Dan Risacher, The Fundamentals of Net-Centricity (a little late) (4 February 2013), 10 years of Net-Centric Data Strategy (25 April 2013)

Related Posts: Beyond Bimodal (May 2016), New White Paper - TotalData™ (August 2016), Developing Data Strategy (December 2019)

TotalData™ is a registered trademark of Reply Ltd.

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