Welcome to Dark Star.

Boutique Consulting firms specialize in a particular problem area (or related areas) as opposed to the “big box” consulting companies that take a more generalized approach to consulting. One such firm in the Toronto area is Dark Star Data Systems. Dark Star was formed from an earlier company (“the Advanced Technology Transfer Group”) to provide software development services to Microsoft during the Y2K frenzy. Dark Star took a completely different approach to the problem by employing highly advanced artificial intelligence methods to hunt for and automatically repair Y2K issues in Microsoft applications. This was completely unique.

Once the year 2000 threat had passed, Dark Star returned to general AI software development (specializing in artificial neural nets) that found use in trend identification. But with a great deal of complexity associated with the problem space and the proposed solution to it, the company increasingly found itself providing consulting services. The market response to Dark Star’s offerings was very positive. In his widely used text “Forecasting Principles and Applications”, Dr. Stephen DeLurgio made numerous references to our work (to pick one example):

“Those desiring more information about Artificial Neural Networks after study of this chapter should refer to Blum, Caudill and Butler, Dixon and Bevan, and Nelson and Illingworth. We have found Dixon and Bevan to be a particularly good starting point with excellent accompanying software.”

Although trend identification was of interest to companies in the late 1990’s and early part of the new millennium, more fundamental problems existed. Just finding and getting at a company’s relevant information was a daily challenge. Even more basic problems cropped up as well: what information should company’s collect in the first place? How should this information be held? How should it be protected? And even more fundamentally, how should businesses design themselves to best take advantage to information technology in the first place? This latter question may seem at first like it doesn’t belong but it traces directly back to the basic questions that inspired the business reengineering movement and continues today. The automation of fundamentally flawed business processes serves to further entrench them in the organization; like a fly in amber.

In order to help companies to get into a position to undertake advanced decision support, Dark Star found itself needing to provide “upstream assistance” – services that cover the architecture spectrum. This led to Dixon writing several books on the topic including “Client Server and Open Systems”, John Wiley & Sons, New York. This book was recommended reading for business leaders and IT professionals alike. Sun Microsystems, for example, had it on their recommended reading list for over 5 years.

Today, Dark Star provides architectural and decision support services. As the IT world has shifted to a buy versus build approach, the areas of concentration more often only include Business Architecture, Data Architecture, Security Architecture and Technology Architecture (even though application architecture and “in the trenches” commercial software development was where the company started).