Towards a Rosetta Stone for translating data between information systems

The BusinessInformation Review blog will be taking a short break over the Christmas period. In the meantime we thought it would be good to share one of the articles that appeared in December’s edition of the journal.

One of the key problems of managing information assets within organisational contexts it dealing with the problem of legacy systems and legacy information. On the one hand this is a technological issue: approaches to information management change over time and the tools improve, such that information sets become subject to uses which were never anticipated. But on the other hand, more often than not the problems posed by legacy systems is less to do with their technological underpinning than with the way in which data has been structured and ordered. The choices developers make when encoding information within database systems in particular – including the range of information that they choose to encode – can have long lasting effects on the subsequent exploitation of that data. Managing legacy information systems often then becomes a problem of data migration.

Morton et al’s outstanding paper in December’s Business Information Review tackles this problem, and explores the possibility of a Rosetta Stone approach to legacy data migration – an open-source project to ‘translate’ data between information systems. We’re making it free for a short period through this blog. The abstract is as follows:

Information systems are an important organizational asset and offer numerous benefits. However, organizations face continued challenges when upgrading ageing information systems, and the data contained within, to newer platforms. This article explores, through conversations with information systems professionals in four organizations, the potential development of a ‘Rosetta Stone’, which can translate data between systems and be used to help overcome various challenges associated with their modernization. Despite mixed feedback regarding the Rosetta Stone concept from interviewees, solutions highlighted in literature combined with participant feedback presented theories for its development, primarily as a tool to enable meaningful interpretation of data, rather than direct translation. The conclusion reflects on data collected to recommend a framework for how the tool might be developed and has the potential to be of significant interest to practitioners, open-source communities and organizations.

To access the paper, simple follow the link below. The paper will be free via this blog until the end of January. Keep an eye on this blog for more free content from Business Information Review in the future.