3 things PLM can learn from UCO (Used Car Ontology)

Our digital and real lives are getting more and more connected. Think about our web experience these days. Mobile devices, map service, location based query, social networks. The list of examples can continue. One of the biggest challenges we have, as a result of web exposure in our real life, is the need to integrate and interconnect many sources of information coming from different places. Think about intertwining of your location information, photo posts and reviews. You have Facebook Nearby service (the enhancement of this service was just announced yesterday), You can get some interesting perspective on the service here.

Moving to the main topic I wanted to discuss today, navigate your browser to the following SemanticWeb article - Introducing the used car ontology (UCO). The article speaks about publishing of ontology (knowledge of concepts) that supports a precise description of used cars. The article reference MakoLab, the company that made this work as well as provides a link to the ontology itself. I found the following passage interesting.

“Publishing information about used cars… containing a description which refers to the Used Cars Ontology will allow for easier searching of cars for purchase, along with a more in-depth description of their state of exploitation. The UCO supplements the more general ontologies GoodRelations and Vehicle Sales Ontology created by Professor Martin Hepp. The GoodRelations ontology is now integrated with the famous dictionary schema.org created by Google, Yahoo and Bing, for the purpose of improvement of information searching on the Internet and better positioning of websites.”

Dig a bit into UCO ontology document and you find some examples of queries and operations build with the use of UCO ontology. Spent some time with the document and you will learn how to get report of used cars, getting car description, updating information about the car and more. The information about used cars can be located on multiple websites. It made me think about possibility to improve interaction with multiple island of information. Here are top 3 things I came after the analyzes of UCO doc:

1. Ontology can be used to produce a meaningful queries. The web technologies are providing a reliable instrument to work with data located in multiple websites. Semantic web provides set of technologies helping you to describe, query and manipulate the data.

2. Nobody is interested how data is stored. It is almost meaningless how data is stored. The website with the information about used cars can use any technology (from text files to excels and databases) to store data. This information is not needed to process data on a web scale.

3. Publishing semantic information can improve cross system data access. When your website and/or service is publishing information in semantically accessible way the information can be intertwined and used by other services for different purposes.

What is my conclusion? Web is a good example of the system that grew up beyond the level of single database. Web data processing mechanisms are interesting from the standpoint of sustainability and data scalability. Used car ontology provide a good example of organizing interoperability beyond the level of a single website. My hunch, we are going to see some of these technologies can change the way PLM systems operate today. Just my thoughts… What is your take?

Best, Oleg

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