See things clearly

Data flow and the big picture of business and IT

Understanding data and how it flows is becoming a hot topic.

A major conference to be held in California, Strata, has just been announced for early 2011,



"...focusing on the business and practice of data...The future belongs to those who understand how to collect and use their data successfully...there's an industrial revolution of data coming. The power of data will change us as surely as the power of steam did a century ago."


As lovers of all things data flow we think this enthusiasm is great, although the last point needs some consideration. Steam and other types of flows changed economy and society only after the development, over decades, of standards and practices for measurement, safety, optimization and valuation.

At the moment there are no recognised standards for flows of data. [more]


So if, as Strata thinks, "humanity is on the edge of a revolution", as we become increasingly reliant on flows of data we have to be careful that it is not the wrong kind of revolution. Few organisations, outside of Oil & Gas and Nuclear, know precisely how data flows through the assets of the business. We have already seen signs in the financial sector that complexity has completely overwhelmed business clarity - it is our belief that the recent 'flash crash' was caused by ignorance of how data (i.e. money) flows through the financial system. [more] It's as simple, fundamental and scary as that.

To maximise performance and stability it is imperative that clarity is created about precisely how data flows through and between businesses around the world.

Clarity is created only when there is accurate understanding and clear communication. And the old saying about a picture speaking a thousand words holds true.

Scott Klososky of future Point of View concluded a recent blog by stating his belief that

"over the next ten years we will see a new career type emerge and this will be a person that translates data, process and technology infrastructure into graphical representations."


In his article Scott argues that

"...one of the biggest reasons why we have a gap between many leaders and their IT staff is that most organizations have little idea how to reduce the complexity of their digital plumbing to a picture that can be easily digested by lay people..."


He criticises "the digitally gifted" for speaking to the business in acronyms; producing diagrams that only they can read; secretly enjoying the struggles of their non-tech colleagues; and for overall poor communication with the business.

Scott predicts that as the influence of technology increases business leaders will want more clarity from IT about how the business and IT interact. In his work he uses the metaphor of "digital plumbing" to create analogies for non-tech people. As he says:

"...This allows me to deal with concepts like storage, data flow, cloud computing, SaaS and business intelligence in a way that visually makes sense to the executives I need to get up to speed..."


And this leads to his conclusion about developing new skills and techniques in the future to communicate complex business and IT information in a simple way.

Scott - the future is now! Here at OBASHI we have created the solution to the problem of understanding how the business works and creating clear communication between business and IT.

We have spent almost ten years developing the very thing that Scott wants - but with the added bonus of including people in the simple 'big picture'.

The OBASHI Methodology is a new way of thinking that communicates business complexity in a simple way that non-tech people can understand - check out the Foreward to the manual.

OBASHI let you create Business and IT diagrams (B&ITs) which you can roll out on the boardroom table to clearly show the interactions of people, process and technology. Dataflow Analysis View diagrams (DAVs) join-the-dots and let you connect business silos. You can assign financial values to the elements that make up these pictures and demonstrate current IT ROI, and/or see the future in "what-ifs".

The OBASHI Methodology manual, published by The Stationery Office, is available for purchase now.

Our entry-level software which enables you to model your business is available as a download with free trial here.

If you would like to ask any questions - fire away!




Views: 540

Comment by Machteld Meijer on August 31, 2010 at 14:54
Just a couple of, maybe stupid, questions.

Data flow : what is most important in OBASHI: the size and direction of the data-flow or the content of the data?
What is most important to OBASHI: the data- or information flow within and between (business) organizations (the figures themselves) or the flow from B->A->S->H->I->H->S->A->S->H ...... ?

I am just trying to understand the goals/aims of OBASHI.
Comment by Fergus Cloughley on September 1, 2010 at 2:01
Hi Machteld,

Thanks for your questions.

A bit of OBASHI history first...

In the beginning, a decade or so ago, Paul and I were approached by BP in Grangemouth, Scotland and asked if we could help develop a method or technique so their business people could simply understand what the IT people where talking about.

After 10 years of R&D and input from experts across the Business and IT world, we came up with OBASHI. A simple and flexible method that can put any business or IT element, component, asset, or resource in a business context.

Furthermore it enables flows of information / data to be superimposed on the model at the most granular level. This enables detailed engineering of any part of the business to take place in and across any of the OBASHI layers.

So to answer your questions, it really comes down to what discipline you are from, what business perspective you want to use OBASHI for.

We have designed the OBASHI methodology to create business clarity so the people, process and technology involved in a business can be communicated in a standard format with the added ability to properly engineer or re-engineer business solutions.

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of OBASHI Think to add comments!

Join OBASHI Think

© 2018   Created by Fergus Cloughley.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service