In 1994, J. Allard wrote a memo to his superiors at Microsoft about the next Windows Operating System and the Internet. He said the Internet was growing so fast that even Microsoft wouldn’t keep up, and that the amount of data that was growing would either crush them, or could propel them forward if they found a way to allow the “data flow” through Windows. Imagine if Microsoft developed Windows with their “own” version of the Internet as some at Microsoft suggested. Would they still be around?
Our software vendors need to be no different, we need to make it a principal to work with those that allow “data flow” from their system/software to where-ever we need it to go.
Here’s an example: At our facility engineering, we have a Work Order system called Maximo, which has all the jobs pertaining to maintenance, etc. They have a “data flow” function that allows users to query the database for any information pertaining to Work Orders. We've used that data flow to develop a computer program to randomly select work orders for inspections, and retains the results for evaluation. The makers of Maximo had no idea that we would use the data that way, but it has saved the base 16 hours a week in lost productivity, and provides better reporting to superiors than originally imagined.
Did Maximo know we would do this? No, but they were smart enough to realize that they couldn’t provide each and every functionality themselves. Without the “data flow” Maximo would probably be around for 10 years tops, but with it, the potential to be around forever is possible.
Look at the software and systems you are using now. Do you not see a way it can be improved? If that software had some sort of “data flow”, how much time and money could be saved if the data could be accessed with some sort of middle-ware program or a reporting function you could make yourself? How much longer could the system be used with some type of “data flow” functionality and not have to be replaced?