I am a relative newcomer to System Dynamics. I first learned about systems thinking from Helmut Wilke, german professor who wrote a book called Smart Governance, which talked about systems of governance and their influences on society. I met Professor Wilke in Cologne in 2007 and was so impressed with his ideas I used his book in a course was teaching with Christa Menke-Suedbeck at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany.
A few years later, a colleauge introduced me to some work IBM did with the City of Portland to build a very large SD Simulation enabling urban planners to understand how even the smallest policy changes had ripple effects across many municipal departments, neighborhoods, families, and individuals. We created that simulation using VenSim and Forio, and I was immediately captivated by the potential to model and simulate the impact of policy on complex environments.
IBM Smarter Cities SD Demo
For over 15 years, I've been an inventor and market builder at IBM. In 1996, I invented Internet Insurance, persuading AIG, Reliance National, Chubb, Codan, and other insurers to invest in developing interent exposure coverage products and underwriting capabilities so that businesses could depend on insurance coverage as they expanded commercial operations online. In 2001, I led a team of IBMers to create the Enterprise Privacy Architecture, which is a patented methodology for embedding privacy policies and obligations into business processes. In 2004, I founded IBM's Data Governance Council and led an international group of 60 companies to create the Data Governance Maturity Model, a vast piece of commonly developed IP that benchmarks Data Governance behaviors across 11 categories and 5 levels of maturity. In 2009, I hosted a series of roundtable forums with large banks, the SEC and the Federal Reserve as we explored the causes and effects of the Credit Crisis and what new standards in risk calculation and expression could be developed to mitigate future crises. And in 2010, I created the Information Governance Community to publish the Maturity Model under an open source license and invite a global community to work with IBM, the Data Governance Council, and many new leaders in developing a larger market for Information Governance and a new leadership role called the Chief Data Officer.
I love building markets through international collaboration and this is why I have urged and lobbied iseeSystems, Ventana, Forio, Anylogic, IBM, and the SD Society to embrace an open standards process at OASIS. SD is a complex discipline that is hard to learn and hard to use. It has grown in episodes over the past 50 years but it has never really broken out of its strong academic foundations. At first, I thought I could help it grow through the Information Governance Community. In 2011, I held a series of informational webinars on SD, the City of Portland Project, some work Steve Peterson had done with urban violence in South Boston. Michael Bean from Forio.com gave us generous amounts of his time to educate our community in how SD works, how models are built, and how simulations can be used to test strategic ideas and transform organizations. Some of our community members built Data Governance models in Vensim and tested them online in Forio.
But widespread adoption eluded us. You can have great webinars with great content and discussions, but that doesn't mean everyone understands what you are talking about. I saw many of my members thinking about systems, but not in a dynamic SD way. They understood the words we used to mean different things and found the math content totally confusing. After six months of work, I had to admit my efforts at Community education were not succeeding.
Undeterred, I started talking about the need for SD Open Standards. In the IT world, Open Standards are a way to spread adoption among vendors because it lowers proprietary barriers to entry in new markets. It enables better software solutions, which end-users appreciate. And the process of Open Standards consideration and specification approval helps build market demand. As early as 2011, I saw clearly that SD lacked a robust IT vendor community. 5 or 6 small vendors providing software modeling tools was a niche market that was not growing.
In 2012, I met iseeSystems at the System Dynamics Conference in St. Gallen. My participation in the conference was very last minute. St. Gallen isn't close to anything in Switzerland and it was summer and I didn't want to travel. But boy am I glad I did. For three days, I saw incredibly thought-provoking transformational work in every industry all using a common SD methodology. I speak at many conferences throughout the world and you never see so many interesting presentations across so many diverse industries written in a common way.
I was blown away by the quality of the content but, sadly, equally depressed by the complete lack of business participation. The conference was run by academics for academics. I was the only representative from a large IT vendor. There were no banks, insurance companies, oil and gas, utilities, governments, or even big 4 consultants attending. The SD Society had a conference in 2011 in Washington DC, so I asked the organizers how many from the federal government had attended. The answer was hardly any. Why the heck not I asked. The answer was no one had thought to prioritize their participation as a target audience. The target audience was local universities.
If the purpose of the SD Society is to service the university marketplace with educational offerings and knowledge transfer, mission accomplished. If the purpose is to grow the industry and attract business audiences, current approaches are inadequate.
This is where OASIS comes in. Following St. Gallen, I went to work persuading my colleagues in IBM that an Open SD standard based on iseeSystems XMILE could help grow business demand for SD simulations. The open standards process would attract new ideas to SD and open the SD Society to new ideas as well. But it took a lot of persuading. I had to sell a vision internally that SD concepts could be used with Big Data analytics to illustrate policy options on complex ecosystems. I had to tell my colleagues that an open standard would allow IBM to embed SD vocabulary in other modeling tools such as Websphere Business Process Modeler, Rational Method Composer, and iLog. And I had to demonstrate that our investment would be modest, the risk small, and the potential payoff reasonable. It took me a year to find the sponsorship I needed to persuade our Standards Commitee to approve IBM"s sponsorship of the OASIS TC.
And that brings us to where we are today. We have a TC. We have a vision for XMILE. These are table stakes. A TC is a sales effort, and we must now expand our market of members to be global, business oriented, diverse, and inclusive. Over the next 24 months, we have to expand TC membership to 70. I'd like to see representation from North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. I see my job on this Technical Committee is to help expand customer demand for SD solutions and build a far larger market than exists today.
We are not just building a technical standard. We are building a market and I will continue to engage my peers to expand the use of XMILE worldwide as we work to develop an Open Standard for System Dynamics at OASIS.