The Exponential Power of Being Open

Five Advantages of the Five Star Open Data and Open Systems Structure

By Nicholas Pisano, CEO of SNA Software LLC & Open Systems Advocate

Open Data and Systems

In 2010, Tim Berners-Lee, one of the key inventors of the Web, advocated for a 5-star deployment scheme for Linked Open Data. Linked Data is a set of design principles for optimizing machine-readable interlinked data. The focus of Berners-Lee is to design principles for sharing machine-readable interlinked data on the Web. But these same principles apply to data optimization at the organizational level, particularly as it applies to information systems related to the public interest and PPM.

  • Making data licensing open for non-proprietary use – earns one⭐
  • Making data available as structured data – earns two ⭐⭐
  • Making data available in a non-proprietary format — ⭐⭐⭐
  • Using URLs and non-proprietary connections to optimize data utilization — ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Linking data to other data to provide context — ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

At SNA Software, we have applied these principles in the development and deployment of our solutions and we extend the basic precepts laid down by Berners-Lee to open systems as well.

The principles of our open systems approach to digital transformation are as follows, one building on the last, each also earning a star as with Berners-Lee’s system:

  • The application logic and code are open and transparent to the user; and persist beyond ad hoc queries – earns one ⭐
  • The application logic and code are open to user modification as needed – earns two ⭐⭐
  • The system is portable and can be used in a variety of environments – earns three ⭐⭐⭐
  • The system is interoperable with other systems – earns four ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The system uses Linked Open Data – earns five ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the top five advantages of adopting solutions that combine open data and open systems.

1. Trust in Both Information Quality and Software Functionality

The key issue in digital transformation is securing a consistent and accurate method of data capture, transformation, load, and integration (ETL) that is not labor-intensive and results in a trusted result with a high rate of confidence. By making data open and by users having access to the steps and methods of transformation in a transparent fashion, the organization gains confidence that the information it is relying on for decision-making is correct. This effect translates into improved morale, increased productivity, and good customer relations. Both data providers and data consumers can read from the same book, based on best practice. Direct cost savings are realized by eliminating duplicate system checks and labor-intensive debugging. In addition, data is optimized to the appropriate level of analysis, eliminating artificial constraints on the quality and value of information.

2. Rapid Access to Essential Data, When It Matters

A common complaint among managers and project managers has been that much of the data provided to them is “like looking in the rear-view mirror.” The combination of open data and open systems accelerates the ETL process exponentially. Previous efforts that required one or several employees several days to three weeks have been significantly reduced. With the confidence of consistency in data and openness, COTS capabilities are applied to automate this process. Now, especially with SNA Software’s ETL solutions, datasets from underlying systems now take anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes. Setup is standardized and any corrupted data is anticipated through the use of data cleansers and templates. Both the intrinsic and business value of data is increased since the period of time from the recorded event to the utilization of data approaches real-time for structured data that is reported, and real-time for data that is directly accessed using APIs without additional conditioning or customization.

3. Insights Across Stovepipes

“Unknown unknowns” have been the bane of organizations across time. Previously unrecognized interrelationships across domains become discoverable when both data and the systems to establish interrelationships are open. The combination of these foundations expands the discoverable window of our efforts so that we can be aware of limitations, challenges, and risks that allow for planning and early mitigation or handling. Information at the right time and at the right place has always been the difference between success and failure. Advanced integration methodologies relying on predictive analytics and Digital Thread naturally result from the combination of open and optimized data across domains to open systems that support an agile and portable framework. While in the past such capabilities were considered restricted to a few specialists in an organization, corporate knowledge now becomes democratized, empowering employees across the spectrum to exponentially improve the quality of decision-making.

4. Achievement of Operational Digital Flexibility

Open data and open systems that align with the use of Linked Open Data allow organizations to “own the data.” The combination of the two in an integrated solution allow for organizations to achieve stability and consistency of results, while allowing flexibility in incorporating new functionality as needed. Bespoke and proprietary solutions tie organizations to solutions and technologies long after they have outlived their useful life.

5. Simplified Management, Reduced Costs, and Scalability

As organizations learn to leverage the advantages of digital transformation, their data and analytical needs change as the organization matures. Traditional bespoke and purpose-built proprietary solutions struggle to keep up with the increased demands of integration and interoperability, especially in environments in which multiple applications are stitched together and are incompatible in both data and functionality. Open data and open systems applications support scalability by allowing for the immediate configuration of solutions based on demand by subject matter experts and organizational culture. The open data and open systems technology adapts to scale, regardless of whether new datasets are being introduced, a new discipline is undergoing digitization, or the needs of the organization shift based on reporting, contractual, best practice, or regulatory requirements. All are achieved without expensive and labor-intensive hard-coding or bespoke data analysis and conditioning.


In a world in which the questions of who owns your data, and whether you determine the methods of analysis, reporting, and management of that data, the comprehensive open data and systems platform provided by SNA’s Proteus Envision and Envision ETL solutions are a breed apart. They deliver a host of advantages not provided by traditional business intelligence, ad hoc, or purpose-built hard-coded applications at an affordable price. SNA Software’s unique platform and ETL technologies ensure that you achieve digital independence and flexibility, across the entire PPM lifecycle, across all domains, delivered through best practice and user curated no-code/low-code configured applications. SNA provides over 70 COTS open systems applications across the PPM ecosystem today—and more are on the way as determined by our customers’ needs and user demand. Open data and open systems are a digital force multiplier. Where most competitions are a game of inches, SNA delivers the competitive edge by a mile.

Published by Nick Pisano

Mr. Pisano has over 30 years of extensive experience in the software, project, business and acquisition management fields in both government and private industry. He is a retired “mustang” U.S. Navy Commander having been assigned leadership positions of increasing responsibility throughout his military and civilian careers. He has served as a project management policy expert, government contracting officer, contract negotiator, as business manager for nine multi-billion dollar programs in NAVAIR, as a Chief Information Officer, and as a government program manager, aside from various assignments at sea and overseas. He is internationally recognized as the developer and co-developer of several project management techniques and methodologies integrating risk and technical performance, and in the establishment of the DoD policy and vision for an integrated digital environment. In recognition of his contributions in this field he was awarded the 1997 Acquisition Research Symposium David Acker Skill in Communications Award. While serving on active duty he also received numerous personal awards, citations and commendations. He completed his career on the staff of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology (OUSD(A&T)) where he developed new project management processes and participated in the development of acquisition policy. Since his Navy career Mr. Pisano has held senior positions in various high tech project management companies. Among those were as Senior Director of EPM Product Marketing at Deltek after a successful career as director of sales and marketing of C/S Solutions, Inc., a software company that developed and sold the wInsight and Risk+ products. In this latter position he advised and counted among his customers virtually every major A&D and federal support contractor; U.S. DoD, OMB, and federal agencies; and defense-related agencies in the U.K., Australia, and Japan. Mr. Pisano holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland (Honors), an M.S. from Pepperdine University, an M.A. from the Combat Studies Institute of the Army Command and General Staff College (Honors), and is a graduate of the senior executive program of the Colgate-Darden School of Business of the University of Virginia. He has also successfully attended advanced formal education in software engineering, project management, contracts law, and on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). His articles have appeared in various acquisition and project management journals and publications, and his posts on major project management websites. He is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), a former board member of the College of Performance Management (CPM), is currently head of the National Defense Industrial Association Program Management Systems Committee (NDIA PMSC) Contracts Working Group, and a charter member of OSD’s PARCA advisory group..

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