Mike Bennett with OMG

This conversation is about the importance of standards in technology and how the Object Management Group (OMG) develops and maintains standards. Mike discusses the challenges of keeping up with the pace of technological change and how OMG's standards process helps to ensure that standards are stable and well-thought-out.

Mike also discusses the potential for standards to help with the development of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. They argue that standards can help to ensure that these technologies are used in a responsible and ethical way.

Here are some key points from the conversation:

  • Standards are essential for interoperability and ensuring that different technologies can work together.
  • The OMG's standards process is designed to be stable and well-thought-out, while still allowing for incremental change.
  • Standards can help to ensure that new technologies are used in a responsible and ethical way.

Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of standards in technology and the role that OMG plays in developing and maintaining these standards.

Here are some specific examples of standards that were discussed in the conversation:

  • XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is a standard for exchanging financial information.
  • ontologies are formal definitions of the meanings of concepts.
  • Explainable AI is a type of AI that can explain its own decisions.

The conversation also touches on the following topics:

  • The speed of technological change
  • The challenges of developing standards for new technologies
  • The potential for standards to help with the development of new technologies
  • The ethical implications of new technologies

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standards, omg, blockchain, ai, process, domain, mike, work, industrial, talk, change, finance, good, ontology, guardrails, potential, words, give, consortiums, thought


Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting-edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's get


by there, once again, welcome to industrial talk. Thank you very much for joining us the number one industrial related podcast in the universe dedicated to you. It does real professionals all around the world because you're bold, brave and daring greatly. You're changing lives and you're changing the world. Thank you very much for what you do, we're going to have a quick intro, because we've got to get right into the conversation with a gentleman by the name of Mike Bennett. Now, Mike Bennett is he is the Technical Director at OMG. And we're talking standards. We're talking about how important that is. We are talking also about trustworthiness, and why it's important. And you have to just sort of sit there and say, Thank you. Thank you to people like Mike, thank you to the organizations like OMG because, you know, without these trustworthy standards, why would be just a little bit different. And I think we take that for granted. So anyway, Mike's in the hot seat, and you'll see if you're out on the video, you'll see it's in a hotel room. Cool. First time I've ever interviewed somebody in the hotel room. But it was well done well, because he was great. And again, I just want to make sure you understand people like Mike. Organizations like OMG, IIC, Digital Twin, the consortiums, all of that stuff. It's imperative that we have these trustworthy standards. And there's this new collection of very smart individuals passionate about getting it right. And I'm truly thankful. And you need to be thankful about that too, as well. All right, let's get on with the conversation with Mike. Hey, Mike, welcome to industrial talk. How're you doing?


I'm good. Thanks. Yes. Oh, yeah. All right. Well,


thank you very much for asking. Thank you very much. Now, listeners, once again, in my intro, you heard that we are at the q1 q1 meeting with OMG. And this is the first time I'm ever so first time we've ever met. And this is Mikey is the technical director SDO the standards development organization. And that's what OMG is all about. Before we get into that, there might give us a little background on who you are. And just your you know, your quick little CV,


right, I have a long CV, as you can probably guess. So I originally worked in industrial work in firing gas and control systems and things and got into a little bit of testing and quality assurance side of things. And then I moved across to finance about 20 odd years ago, and got very involved in financial industry standards, and particularly trying to apply that same kind of quality assurance thinking and you know, how you demonstrate that things are correct, and so on. So I kind of came to software as a non programmer, as it were learning how to test and verify all manner of software and things. So then for years, I got involved in the financial standards well, but I've probably mentioned a lot of standards for interchange of data of common models for financial instruments and all sorts of things. And I ended up creating a, a kind of, it's an industry resource that defines the meanings of the concepts in finance, if you want to know, what is the difference between a mortgage-backed security and asset backed security, and you want some formal definitions for these things. I basically created that through an industry association called the Enterprise Data Management Council. We brought that to the Object Management Group to make it a standard. So that's how I got involved with OMG. I ended up heading up the finance domain taskforce while piloting that ontology standard, but


it's more than finance right now with OMG to standards. Oh, yeah. A development organization. It's far more than that. It is. I mean, every time I have conversations with many and OMG, it's much more than that. And it just never. I've never grown to appreciate the individuals in the the organizations that develop these standards to try to create a common lexicon a commenter some help, I can't Can you sort of with the listeners, be able to sort of give us an idea of what the standards development organization? What do you guys do?


Yes. So from what I learned from finance, so we have very specific kinds of things is, when you come to something like the OMG, we have two sides to the OMG as a whole, we've got what's called the platform and the domain side. So, domain has these kinds of comments. Next occurrence and common kinds of interfaces and stuff like that we've got things for robotics, and space and retail, and all sorts of other things. Government, of course, for information sharing, and so on. And then the platform stuff is, you know, the OMG developed the Unified Modeling Language many years ago, that's still very much a live and going concern. And we've built on top of that with various things like system modeling standards, and various other kinds of technology standards that are implemented by vendors in their technology platforms as modeling tool vendors, and so on. So we kind of balance those two sides of things that domain of the platform. And sometimes you'll start with a domain thing like say blockchain is a big thing right now. And I wish I


could understand that every time I have a conversation, I walk away.


Yeah, no, no, yeah. So, for a while, I headed up a special interest group on blockchain here at the OMG. And we were trying to figure that stuff out as well. And distinguishing between the technology and the cryptocurrency stuff. And there's really good technology ideas there. And for that, although it started as a domain thing with like, for actual cryptocurrency and so on, it went to a platform group for making standards because we're looking at, you know, standard kinds of interfaces and models and so on for, for how you basically use that kind of technology. So that's kind of a technology standard. So that's how we kind of balance the domain and technology side, and you know, an idea might start somewhere, but it becomes something that needs to be a piece of middleware, or it needs to be a modeling language, or whatever it happens to be. So then we have a appropriate group for each of those kinds of things.


How do you go when you get to that point where you have an ease, because we're here at q1? And that's where all of the sort of the organization's the, the consortiums, everybody sort of gets together and they start talking about the standards and all of the, the great stuff that's happening. How do you determine when a standard when it's at a point where you can release it? Because it just seems like it's always it never ends? It just there's got to be a point where, okay, here. And then we're going to continue to come out with a version two and version, whatever it is, how do you guys determine that?


Yeah, so we have a process for managing later iterations of the standard, again, depending on what you're standardizing with standards can be anything from, you know, which way round you Turner's grew as a standard, but it's so long ago, nobody had to publish it. You know, it could be simple stuff like that, which


I never thought clockwise versus counterclockwise. Somebody had to come up with that.


That's right. It's like, I love it. When you watch some sci fi thing, like, yeah, when the Star Trek kinds of things, and people can come up to some completely alien thing and walk up with a little plug and plug it in, and you think, Well, I'd like to be in the standards meeting where they figured out how that was going to work. Because everybody just takes that for granted.


Just without a doubt, it is taken for granted. And I don't mean to walk on you because I want to understand the process. But it's so true. It's, I want standardized connectors. Just just Yes, just so that their standard anyway. Yeah.


Yeah, well, there's a, as a matter of standards process, their, if you like, is that whose standards who standardize the standardization. So with connectors, the European Union, for example, is going to mandate that out of all these USB, ABC, etc, or phones are gonna have to use a particular one for a particular point. So, you know, there's a stage where you can choose between standards or regulatory authority, you can mandate that, you know, this is the standard you will use or in financial reporting, they'll say that, you know, when you send in a report or something, it needs to be in this XBRL standard, for example. And so, yeah, and go back to your your question about the change management. So a standard has to be stable and not change in order to, you know, to work, but at the same time, the world is always changing. So there's always new things coming through. So, so we have to lock in. And sometimes people think, oh, you know, haven't heard about this standard for a long time, nothing's changed. Well, maybe that's because it's fine. Maybe that's because it's got everything you want. You know, if you have a standard of how you issue unique identifiers for something, you probably don't want that to change. But then when you got, you know, particularly domain verticals, with lots of new content, you know, some new kind of thing pops up. Yeah, we mentioned blockchain just now, other new financial models are something well, then you got to have some process for evolution. So we have a continuous process of what we call revision task forces that take each stable version of the specification, and identify what are the things that merit going into the next version of the standard and we have a process we have, we're here to make sure there's a level playing field we have a process that ensures that everybody who has a stake in a particular standard has the ability or the right to be involved. Hold at the right point and have their say and what's gonna go into the next version of that standard, and so on. So there's a balloting process and all sorts of complex machinery behind the scenes that makes sense. This is


this is a question, how long have you been sort of involved in OMG? Just involved since about


2011? Or 2012? I think 2011? Yeah.


And what's interesting about that is, is because of the changes, because of things that happens all the time, does your process also improve? Like your, your ability to, to evaluate whether it's, it's a standard that's worthy of, you know, elevating, or whatever, whatever it is, you guys have those? Have you seen that type of evolution in your process?


Yes. So my current role I'm relatively new at so I was heading up these domain task forces and things. So I was kind of one of the members doing what we do and bending the rules if we if we needed to. And now I'm the I'm the gatekeeper, rather than the poacher. So I'm here to enforce those rules. So yeah, we've been running a very stable process for a very long time, the underlying principles are very clear, we always make sure that there's a real market need for a standard, that we're not reinventing something that's already done, we always look out for there being some example implementation that tells us it's not going to be shelfware, for example. So we've got process to ensure all that the principles are very solid. The process itself is very old and very solid. But it's it's always been under a process of continuous revision as well. So in the same way, that without standards, we make sure that all incremental changes are stable and well thought out, and so on. So we have a taskforce that looks at, you know, potential gaps and issues. Yeah, that might be something that we've always done it in particular way. But what if somebody wanted to do something different? Or, you know, we want to make sure, for example, when somebody submits a standard, that there's always the tool set that they use to produce all that stuff, you know, what if they disappear? How are we going to keep that standard alive? So the process for that is very clear, well established. But there's new technologies being used that mean that the way we implement that may change? That's just one example that came across my desk literally this afternoon. So we're always looking at what are the things we may need to do to incrementally improve the process to meet current needs without losing the stability that were built up over all the years that the OMG has been going?


Honestly, I don't know how you do. I really don't given given what OMG does get in all of the standards and all of the new techniques, or let's say domains that are taking place out there, there's and it's, do you get a sense of there's a velocity, there's like a speed that's happening, maybe there's or is it always been very like, Oh, what about, you know, like augmented reality? You know, that's like all of a sudden, Metaverse, all this whole new stuff, but it's still even AI and having the guardrails around it. I mean, I it's fast. I don't know how you guys do?


Yeah. Yeah, it's a good example, and particularly this chat. GPT? Yes, yes. Well, it's, it's using large language models. So it's not it's using words rather than the meanings or concepts. And that's something that we can probably improve upon with, we have models for what we call ontologies, which is about the meaning of concepts rather than just words. So at the moment, those AI systems are, you know, they're getting surprisingly good results because of having such a large corpus of material. But when they say something, it could look realistic and be completely wrong or completely right. And even when it's right, you don't know, it's right that


how would you do that? How? Because you're absolutely right. I never thought of that with Chet GPT. All I know, is like, give me a call to action, whatever that whatever the statement was, and it spit it out, give me five options and spit it out. Yeah. But I never thought of that. How do you how do you do that? How do you also take AI, this example, and create some guardrails to protect against you know that the moral implications of all of that,


that's really important, and one of the things so the LMG, we have a broader OMG ecosystem. So I mentioned earlier on that my position is with the sto, the standards development organization. We've got a number of SR consortia, one of the most recent one is one called responsible computing. That's one of the things I think where a lot of these issues are gonna come through along with other environmental type of issues as well. But yeah, those those kinds of guardrails. So those consortia don't set standards themselves but they're one of many routes by which we get people come to us to say, well, here's something now that is well enough to find that we figure out that suddenly we can standardize so I'll do Whatever the standard will look like for that, but there's going to need to be standards around AI around. Well, a good example would be Explainable AI, you know, there is there are a few tools out there that allow you to do AI using what we call ontology. So the formal definition of the meanings rather than just the words, now there isn't anywhere near as big a corpus of material for those things to work on. But there are tools that do that. So that gives Explainable AI. Now, somebody out there in a company reporting to their regulator might say, oh, yeah, we've got Explainable AI, the same way that there's people saying, oh, yeah, we have ESG, you know, environment, right, rideability, and governments. But as long as there is defined those three words, I can say what they like, yeah. So how do you define that? So when somebody submits a report and says, Yes, we're compliant with this AI Explainable AI directive, we can prove that the outputs of our AI are meaningful, and therefore either true or false, but you know, not just meaningless. How do they say that if we haven't defined the terms first. So that's where you start to see potential for standards is, it might be at a sort of domain level of the concepts or it might be at the level of what process would an entity have to have gone through to demonstrate that anything that this AI will produce will be explainable that is linked to some industry ontology or some other resource for industry concept? And again,


I struggle with the speed. I mean, what you and others within the organization and the commitment and focus on developing those standards, that takes time? Yes, there's a lot of detail there. You know, the, you know, that's how the sausage or the is made. But then there's just this speed and this acceleration that happens. And it's just, it just seems like there's going to be a disconnect.


Yes, yes. So I've spent a bit of time the last few years in the blockchain space, for example, and it's a good example. Questions about that, too? Oh, yeah,


it's right there.


Technology is good. Stay away from the imaginary money. But now there are some good offerings, even in that space. And other technology has a lot of huge potential. As long as people doing it, don't get distracted by the, you know, we're all gonna get Lamborghinis, or fly to the moon and all that nonsense that's going on. And so what I'm seeing there is probably a sort of extreme example of what we've seen in a lot of software development these days, which is what's known as agile. And to me, says, actually, there's two things there's, there's agile, and then there's agile in air quotes, because a lot of people just use it as a word to not have any process at all. Whereas true agile process without the air quotes, is every bit as rigorous as the kind of waterfall and other industrial processes that went before. You know, I came out of hardware and electronics before I came anywhere near any software. And I brought all those disciplines with me from hardware into software. And it's doable. But a lot of people use sort of agile and air quotes as an excuse not to follow any kind of rigor. But you know, with the right with a bit of imagination with the right design of process. You can keep the rigor while allowing the more flexible and responsive and fast way of doing things than having to do one thing, and then the next thing and then the next thing and having to do it all in a very procedural way. It's just a matter of imagination to have faster and flexible processes that don't compromise the integrity of what you're producing. The ability to demonstrate control at the end of it.


I don't know, man, tiger by the tail on this thing, because it's there's a lot going on. I went back to blockchain. And I think I think myself, I believe blockchain, the word gets a bad rap because it's always with crypto. But there's there's private blockchains. There's some value there's some real great secure, yeah, financial value in that.


There really is there's a group in East Africa that's doing stuff on trades, lifecycles, and trade management and stuff, for example. And the word we prefer to use for this is a thing called distributed ledger technology. Yes, because it's about being able to post non reputable records of things. And there's people I know in academia who are records management experts who've really picked up on this are doing a lot of work in how that kind of DLT distributed ledger system can provide an irrefutable records of things or you have a mortgage record or some deeds or you know, some kind of contract you want to lock in or something. It provides a good way of ensuring that you have well that you know, what you have or that you have what you say you have, so, there's a lot of potential there


that said, Okay, so there's, I mean, is there a He a business case to be made for blockchain like bottom line value like, yeah, it makes sense. Because every time I have a conversation with something about blockchain, it's always like, Yeah, this is great. And it does this and like, you know, I can see the record, and it's all great. But is there truly a value or a business case to be made for companies to implement things like that,


I think there'll be several distinct business cases. It's like all these things, if you start with a technology looking for a problem, then you just gotta be wasting people's time. But if you've got a problem that you didn't previously have a way of addressing, or addressing quite so well, for example, in supply chain management, or in energy supply, and things like that, there's a lot of potential there for where you would say, Yeah, okay, at this point, in my process, I want a non reputable record of this state of the world at this point in time. Now, if you then supplement that with, again, stronger definitions of what all the terms mean, using formal logic, for example, instead of just words that people might change their mind about what they mean, it's very light law, you define your terms, then you build upon that into other defined terms. And then everybody knows exactly what they're signing up for. So that's where the use cases are. And that's what that's what I think, as I say, supply chain and energy, and possibly real estate and a few other areas like that, where there'll be individual business models that people will see that can make use of this technology. And that can make use of standards that will need to be developed around that for identity, for example, whether it's your self sovereign identity for you saying who you are, and, you know, being able to prove that you're the right age to drink, or you're able to drive a car or whatever this state or that state without giving away lots of your personal information. So a lot of business models like that we're seeing both here and in Europe as well that people are working on that.


And again, I want to make sure that everybody's clear on this. This has nothing to do with Blockchain. It has everything to do with managing transactions, understanding where they're at, and being able to do it in a secure and exact and open. I think there's a transparency that's there too, as well. That's a okay,


that's right. Yeah. So here's, Mike, I


know, it's Mike, because he's got whatever, it's Mike


exactly. You could have self sovereign identity, proving who you are proving what some things in the supply chain or, you know, having, again, transparency, even in things like government regulations, and so on, you know, if if citizens of any country are able to see what the government is do have standards


already, Blockchain like de existed,


there are there's a de facto standards body or sort of set of de facto standards coming out of the Etherion foundation. So they have these sorts of cool ERC, which are kind of similar to how the internet people that every three C have these sorts of RFCs. It's a similar thing to that. So for smart contracts of particular variations and smart contracts. There are a lot of standards on that. We've got an RFI out at the moment on smart contracts and looking to find what what areas there are that we could perhaps be doing more standardization on, we looked a couple of years ago at some identity relations related standards. Again, the W three C has the definitive standard for that. But there's a lot of business scenarios we're seeing coming out of a project in the European Union, for being able to have self sovereign identity particular to one particular context or another. So you get more flexibility in how you do that, still potential for standards that we don't actually have a vendor submitting that to us. So we're just gonna have to monitor that for now. But there's a lot of potential for things that for these doing business models to work, there's gonna be areas, whether it's at the level of an interface, or the business definitions or the process, or there's various kinds of things you can standardize. And because of the way we work at the OMG, when we build a standard, we build on secure, underlying platform, so we have a better modeling standard, when you have a modeling language like UML, or sis ml or something. They're all built on a common metabolic standard. And so we're looking at, or for other kinds of things that can be standardized, whether it's, you know, business meaning or process or, you know, obviously, with interfaces and stuff, we got a lot of very strong stuff on that. We're looking to ensure that each standard that's built is built on a stable foundation of the right kind of building blocks that was built up from so it all fits into a coherent architectural framework.


I hated that sort of detail. You were here at q1. And what's your what's going to be your focus here, q1, what makes q1 a success for you?


Lot of things going on, we've got a big finance event on Thursday that's open and it's virtual and in person It's fairly us focus for an international standards body, of course. But this particular focus is the recently passed Financial Data Transparency Act, which explicitly calls out for standards of or specifically standards from voluntary consensus standards bodies, V. CSBs, which is another acronym for where we are, right. So we're bringing together a number of other standards bodies, there's, you know, I mentioned XBRL. Earlier, for example, it's a very well known, well used reporting standard in the financial space, and showing how we interoperate with other standards groups, how we can help figure out the gaps in that space for standards. Yeah, what other things are needed to put it all together? And yeah, that's, that's the public facing thing with panels and stuff. But we've got the work to do lead up to that. So on Tuesday, Wednesday, we've got finance and government coming together to work our way through all those reports. And stuff. It's gotta be fun. That's perfect. I see that it's heavy lifting.


So if somebody's listening to this podcast, and they're saying, Hey, I like what Mike say, I want to be involved. I want to, I want to contribute. I want to know more. What's your recommendation for helping that individual get the information they need?


Yeah, do get evokes contact membership people, or if you've got any questions about the stuff we talked about? Contact me. Give me my email, if you like. Yeah, you bet@omg.org has been able to answer duties. And yeah, just get involved, be part of how the standards are made, so that you're on top of it, and your toolset can support it. as well. You guys.


I mean, it's you guys are truly the unsung heroes. We just take it for granted. I mean, I'm just telling you right now,


if we're doing our job, right, you should always be able to take him for granted. Yeah, well, yeah, that's right. Yeah. Space Opera things. If you can plug that thing into the alien ship and read that ship, then we've done our job.


All right, listen, there's we're gonna wrap it up on either side. Thank you very much for joining industrial talk. And thank you, once again, for your support. We're going to have all the contact information for Mike out there. So if you're not need to get in, you need to get involved, need to get involved, go out to omg.org or reach out to Mike and guarantee you will not be disappointed. Stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


All right. Once again, thank you very much for joining industrial talk and a hearty thank you to Mike for joining us on industrial talk at OMG q1 meeting. That was a great event. Again, I'm always dazzled, you should be dazzled by individuals like Mike and others individuals that are engaged at OMG and all the consortiums that are developing trustworthy standards that we just take for granted. It's just happening behind the scenes because things work right. When it all work, right. That's when it becomes a challenge. But kudos to Mike, reach out to him. It'll all be out on industrial talk as you will, or he just know, his LinkedIn profile, the company, all of the stuff that you need to be engaged, do it, at least begin to consume this information. All right, we're building a standard, an ecosystem that is dedicated to you. Industrial professionals get engaged go out to industrial talk.com And you meet people like Mike, people will be brave, they're greatly hanging out with bike and OMG and you will change the world. We're gonna have another great conversation coming from this event shortly.

This conversation is about the importance of standards in technology and how the Object Management Group (OMG) develops and maintains standards. Mike discusses the challenges of keeping up with the pace of technological change and how OMG's standards process helps to ensure that standards are stable and well-thought-out.
Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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