is Linked Data the future of data integration in the enterprise?
NXP is overcoming the challenges of disparate data and content by exploring the power of graph databases.
At NXP, similar to many other large organizations, we have what you might call a ‘brownfield’ information landscape. Data and content is scattered and duplicated across numerous applications and databases leading to inconsistent information, complex systems and inefficient processes. The outcome is that people are unable to find what they are looking for, or find conflicting information. Common approaches like Data Warehousing, Master Data Management and Service-Oriented Architecture all tackle parts of the problem, but none provide a total solution.
Our aim is to provide a single, up-to-date ‘canonical’ source of information that is easy to use and that data consumers (be they human or machine) can trust. By doing this we can make sure all our publications are kept up-to-date with the minimum amount of fuss.
The answer we found was to take the best of the previously mentioned approaches and combine with a liberal sprinkling of “Linked Data”. The result is a giant graph of data. Think of it like a social network, but with things (products, places, technologies, applications, documents, web pages) as well as people.
The main business drivers for this have, so far, been mostly internal: how to ensure product data is available across internal systems in an easy-to-use and efficient manner. In many areas simple XML messages and other B2B standards are applicable, but within a portfolio of over 20,000 products across a broad variety of functions and technology it simply is not possible to describe the complex properties of an electronic component with a handful of standard XML elements. Also the tree-based XML DOM soon starts to become a limitation when dealing with a highly-interlinked web of information. The answer (as it turns out) is quite simple: think graph.
The benefits of the Linked Data approach are clear: we provide data consumers a single, trustworthy, easy to use source of information about our products. The Linked Data is the API. The benefit to our end-customer is that the information published on our website, data sheets, selection guides and partner websites is consistent and up-to-date.