Your data is valuable. Locked-in, proprietary data formats can prevent you from accessing your data in the future and will, at a minimum, result in high switching costs. It really is that simple.
Data formats are one of the requirements that can often be overlooked in the RFP process resulting in a hidden “gotcha” for the overall project. Your data is only one part of your software infrastructure: the functionality of the software packages you choose to use to create, retrieve, and present your data are all vitally important facets of your IT environment. However, ensuring that your data has longevity and can be used across any system of choice is equally vital to your long term success.
Open data standards ensure the longevity and portability of your data. While open data standards don’t totally eliminate the costs of switching from one vendor to another — you can at least rest assured that you have the option of changing vendors.
This may be useful advice when selecting a new system, but what do you do when your technology stack already includes technology with proprietary data sources that are hard to unlock?
Middleware software systems can transform those proprietary data formats into a more interoperable form. For example, Avato uses XML and XSLT (themselves open data standards) to unlock proprietary data and make it available to other applications and other uses. When it comes to data interoperability, data longevity, and data integrity, XML technologies have proven to be the preeminent standard of enterprise data and useful in enterprise applications for the past two decades.
Data is the lifeblood of business: it drives every aspect of the enterprise and it is critical that it remains in your control. In this era of rapid innovation and change, keeping your data open and accessible is a key requirement.