Company Uses Linked Data to Solve Integration Problem

    A worldwide leader in semiconductor sales is experimenting with Linked Data as a way to integrate internal systems, according to a recent blog post. The company also plans to make some of the linked data available under an open license.

    NXP Semiconductors began pursuing Linked Data as a way to ensure that data and content are up-to-date and correct while still making it available across multiple channel publications, explains John Walker, a business analyst in the sales and marketing group.

    While it’s possible to make the information available by PDF, over the long term, using PDFs makes it difficult to keep the data current, he explained.

    “Our aim is to provide a single, up-to-date ‘canonical’ source of information that is easy to use and that data consumers (be they human or machine) can trust,” Walker writes in a recent blog post. “By doing this we can make sure all our publications are kept up-to-date with the minimum amount of fuss.”

    So how does it work? He offers a pretty detailed explanation on the post. The company started the process a few years ago by using data dictionaries to “ensure high-quality, structured product data based on canonical property definitions.” It then used that data as the source for creating existing publications.

    “However we always felt ‘spoofing’ these publications was not really showing off the data to its full potential,” Walker writes. “So in the past year we have been looking at new and innovative ways to publish our product data. When looking at Linked Data and RDF, we recognised an immediate affinity with our dictionary-based strategy.”

    RDF is a standard model used for data interchange on the Web. It simplifies data mergers, even in cases where the underlying schemas differ.

    It’s a key part of Linked Data, since it also uses the Web’s URIs to name relationships between two things, as well as the two ends of the link, according to the W3C Semantic Web’s explanation of RDF.

    In other words, it’s making all that data available for hyperlinking.

    “The benefits of the Linked Data approach are clear: we provide data consumers a single, trustworthy, easy to use source of information about our products,” he explains. “The Linked Data is the API. The benefit to our end-customer is that the information published on our website, data sheets, selection guides and partner websites is consistent and up-to-date.”

    He outlines step-by-step the company’s progress toward Linked Data, including the use of a graph database for the data that’s converted into RDF. They’re also using a cloud-based database-as-a-service company called Dydra to simplify deploying RDF.

    NXP Semiconductors is one of the top 20 semiconductor sales leaders worldwide. It was originally owned by Philips, but was sold to a private equity consortium in 2006, according to Wikipedia.

    The company is still converting data into Linked Data. Though the business driver is internal and based on the need for integrated, up-to-date catalog publishing, NXP does plan to make the data publicly accessible under an open license. At the end of the post, Walker actually asks people to share ideas on how NXP’s data might be used by others.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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