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jueves, 17 de mayo de 2012

Reality modeling with 4ikim

Over time, in the multiple presentations we have made, we always find difficult to convey in a simple way what is 4iKIM. The most often we used a phrase that easily simplifies the philosophy of the platform: "4iKIM is a tool for managing 'things', share those 'things' with others and naturally build relationships between them". Those "things" that manages 4iKIM, those information units, are usually called "items".

But, what are those "items" and what are they intended to be?

Items in 4ikim can store and manage information. (For example: contact details, the contents of an email, a note, a file, a document, etc.) Actions like store contact details of a person, write and receive email or store documents are very common tasks with solutions offered by many tools on the market. But what makes 4iKIM different starts from the moment we can relate items arbitrary and regardless of its type. At that point, when we begin to relate items (information units), is when it starts to smack their true value.

From that moment the items begin to achieve their own identity. What is traditionally considered a "contact" in other tools (with its data, as we use in a traditional calendar tool), when we relate it to the meetings in witch tooks part, when its emails are automatically associated with him, when we link him to an organization if applicable, etc. Then "it" becomes "he or she", that contact item no longer serves only to store its data, but it represents a person in the reality of our business. And as such, this person entity is related to other items (also entities) of the real world: meetings, phone calls, emails, other people or organizations, etc.

This "entitification" is even more illustrative in 4iKIM with other different item: the "stock" item. A stock-type item is only meaningful when it's asociated with a real entity, something tangible that can be posted, moved, positionated in space, grouped, or related to other entities (regardless of type). They represent simple annotations or references to physical objects involved in our business: manufactured parts, materials, storage media, computers, vehicles, etc ...

At the moment we begin to see and understand the "items" in this way, the possibilities of modeling the reality of our business expands with 4iKIM a lot. We begin to create and quickly identify items from 4iKIM with actors, events and entities that are part of the reality of our business: contacts (which may represent to our customers, suppliers or partners), users (staff of our companies), tasks, calls, files (accounting documents, etc.).

When we identify the entities involved, is when they get involved in relationships, modeling how these entities are connected together. For example, when we add a contact to an event, we are modeling that this person participates in it. When we link an expenditure for a trip and this trip with a user, we are modeling that the user is who has made the trip, and in its context has made an expenditure. If that trip is also related to a project, it implies that both, the trip and the spending, are part of the effort we've invested in this project.

Reached this point, the other capabilities of 4ikim gain its full meaning:

  • Geolocation of any item in space: 
    An entity, an event, a person can be located somewhere in space at any given time. 
  • The time location of any item:
    An event is located a the time when it happens, an entity has a moment of creation, etc. 
  • The logical locations:
    Those entities within which the element makes sense, and are directly related. 
  • The possibility of versioning any item: 
    The ability to freeze a picture in time of any entity, so you can see its history and evolution. 
  • The uniqueness of the mails in 4iKIM:
    Representing the communication fact regardless of the number of recipients or mailboxes that have this mail. 
  • Etc ...

Therefore, we can see 4iKIM as a tool for modeling, using entities and relationships, the reality of our business. Let's begin to identify key actors and entities from our bussiness to represent and create relations between them. This will allow us to create a large graph that draws and represents the reality of our organization, helping us to study it and manage it more efficiently.

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