EI3-IC - Summary of the Proceedings


The international initiative on Enterprise Inter- and Intra-Organisational Integration (EI3-IC) had the objective to increase both international consensus (IC) and public awareness on enterprise integration. In these proceedings we intend to present the current status in inter- and intra-organisational integration for electronic commerce and thereby to further increase awareness and consensus within academia and industry about enterprise inter-and intra-organisational integration. The initiative consisted of four international workshops followed by the ICEIMT’02 - International Conference on En-terprise Integration Modelling Technology held at the University of Valencia, Spain, 02-04-24-26.

The conference proceedings have been completed and are to become available mid October 2002 (Kluwer Academic publisher ISBN is 1-4020-7277-5). With more than 440 pages the proceedings provide a very comprehensive overview on Enterprise Inter- and Intra-Organisational Integration. In addition to the conference papers workgroup reports present the results from the four workshops that preceded the conference and which include recommendations for research work and specific projects in the areas addressed by the workshops:

The conference proceedings contain the papers presented at the ICEIMT conference in Valencia, Spain, selected papers presented at the different workshops and three papers on the initiative itself: overview, history and results. The proceedings follow the conference structure with each section (Parts 2 to 5) starting with the workgroup reports, followed by a particular view on the section theme and additional papers either presented at the conference or during the related workshop. Section editorials discuss the different contributions.
As stated in the paper by Nell and Goranson in section 1 the results from all workshops indicate the important role of business processes in the area of e-commerce and virtual enterprises. Sharing relevant knowledge between co-operating partners and making it available for decision support at all levels of management and across organisational boundaries will significantly enhance the trust between the partners on the different levels of partner operations (strategy, policy, operation and transaction). Clearly business process modelling can significantly enhance establishment, operation and decommission of the required collaboration.

Merging knowledge management and business process modelling will provide synergy and improve efficiency of enterprise collaborations (Part 2 and Workshop 1). However, the benefits of knowledge sharing between collaborators can only be exploited if interoperability of business processes and business-process models can be assured (Part 4 and Workshop 3). This is especially important during the enterprise establishment phase where the required and provided capabilities have to be matched under the time constraints of the usually rather short market window.

But interoperability has not only an information technology aspect, but a human aspect as well. Only if the business-process model representation is commonly understood, will the people involved in the collaboration be able to build and maintain the needed trust in each other’s capabilities (Part 5 and Workshop 4). Emphasis has been placed on the need for user oriented business process modelling, which is seen as a prerequisite for model based decision support. Specific aspects of virtual enterprise planning have been addressed (Part 3 and Workshop 2). Agent technology has been a subject in all four workshops and several proposals for further work have been made. The same is true for the concept of ontologies, which will play an important role in solving the interoperability issues through the harmonisation of business knowledge semantics.

Part 2 - Knowledge management in Inter- and Intra-organizational Environments

Knowledge Management (KM) has been gaining significant momentum within enterprise organisations and is considered an important success factor in the enterprise operation. However, wide differences exist in the understanding of what a knowledge management system is and does. Perception ranges from using the enterprise-wide database or expert systems with various ontologies and roles to enterprise modelling and integrated communication systems supported with Internet technology. Generally accepted guidelines or standards are missing to support the design and implementation of a knowledge management system in an organisation or between organisations. Capturing knowledge and using it across organisational boundaries with a satisfactory acceptance of the human user is another major challenge.

Three workgroup reports address the relations between knowledge management and enterprise modelling concluding that joining in some form could be possible and synergy would bring additional benefits. One focus was on possible combined futures and the research roadmap these futures require (Goranson). Three different levels of potential work have been identified: near term, medium term and longer term oriented. At each level problems and limits have been identified and potential solutions are proposed.

Discussing the mapping of enterprise modelling onto knowledge management similarities and differences as well as solutions have been identified (Heisig). Thereby focus has been also on ontologies, which will play an important role in this mapping. A role that would become intensified with the move towards inter-organisational collaboration or virtual enterprises.

Concentrating on guidelines for enterprise modelling to cover scope and goals, architectures, infrastructures and approaches to implementation, the third workgroup looked at examples of industrial solutions and tool strategies (Chen). Potential synergies and solutions have been identified with emphasis on the human role in future environments.

Ontologies are conceptual reference models that formally describe the consensus about a domain and that are both human-understandable and machine processable. Akkermans in his overview paper gives an overview of recent developments, issues, and experiences in Semantic Web research, and especially discusses the role of ontologies in innovative intelligent e-applications, using the On-To-Knowledge project for ontology-based knowledge management as a particular example.

The paper by Huhns describes a methodology by which information from many independent sources and with different semantics can be associated, organised, and merged. A preliminary evaluation of the methodology has been conducted by relating 53 small, independently developed ontologies for a single domain.

Lillehagen in his paper presents a novel approach for integrating enterprise modelling and knowledge management in dynamic networked organisations. The approach is based on the notion of active knowledge models (AKM™). An AKM is a visual model of enterprise aspects that can be viewed, traversed, analysed, simulated, adapted and executed by industrial users.

The last paper in this section presents a report on work in progress of a synthesis of selected state of the art enterprise ontologies, which aims to produce a Base Enterprise Ontology (Partridge). The synthesis is intended to harvest the insights from the selected ontologies, building upon their strengths and eliminating – as far as possible – their weaknesses. Early results of this work are reported.

Part 3 – Enterprise Inter- and Intra-Organizational Engineering and Integration

Virtual enterprises are a new way for SMEs to unite forces, increase their competitiveness and meet today’s market needs and jointly behave as one producer towards the customer. But collaboration is not only a technical issue, but also a social and organisational one, as well as a matter of trust.

This section addresses these topics discussing methodologies and reference models for building virtual enterprises as well as their organisational and human aspects. It closes with industrial examples of collaborations.

Two special issues of enterprise engineering and integration are addressed in the workgroup reports. The first group proposes the exploitation of agent technology to obtain solutions applicable for advanced virtual enterprises (Goranson). It includes the use of agent-model pairs applying ontologies and thereby addressing model semantics and its impact on model costs. The second report by Weston is on planning of virtual enterprises and identifies a set of common VE business planning activities and the degree of concurrency between planning processes at different planning levels.

The paper by Bernus describes the need for high quality reference models for virtual enterprises that will speed up the creation of different types of virtual enterprises. The need to develop a set of design principles is identified and demonstrated by some examples.

Focusing on the idea of process organisation Levi in his paper reports on a process framework deployed recently in project at a leading energy generation and trading enterprise. The integration of the process framework into the management structure introduces clear focus on consistent and collaborative ways that result in a direct impact on the bottom line.
An approach to the analysis, design and specification of agile and efficient enterprises is presented (Webb). The method enables clear justification of design, definition of interfaces and derivation of validated requirements. Comparisons are drawn to Zachman, ISO 15704 and pre EN ISO 19439.

Cieminski describes a framework for manufacturing systems engineering that is based on the concept of industrial engineering, but uses the life cycle concept as described in the Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodologies, GERAM. A generic engineering process is described.

Five papers are concerned with human aspects in enterprise engineering and integration. Starting with the problem of awareness and acceptance, Mendez reports on his efforts in introducing process modelling in Mexico. A concept is described for identifying business process modelling as a solution to a problem in the management decision-making process.
A classification is made based upon properties of teams described in the human factors literature (Byer). A reusable understanding of these characteristic properties should (1) inform on the ‘initial design and formulation of enterprise teams’, and (2) help focus on ‘continuing task development carried out by teams’ through their useful lifetime.

Aguilar Savèn addresses human aspects as seen at different levels of an organisation. It describes the perception of the concept of integration by the people involved in the actual enterprise operation. Distinct differences of perception exist between management and the operational staff.

Tolone reports on lessons learned that reflect the human side of enterprise integration, which concerned with the human role, with security and privacy, and the re-examination/definition of traditional business processes.

Focusing on SMEs, the paper by Poler describes a project on knowledge management in the textile industry, evaluating different human related aspects in terms of barriers and potential solutions.

The last two papers present particular application of enterprise engineering. Weston in his contribution explains how ‘process aware machine components’ have been developed as re-useable building blocks for ‘in production’ assembly and transfer machine elements. ‘Change capable’ systems and the role of enterprise modelling in producing ‘pro-active systems’ are discussed.

Jaekels paper is concerned with simulation of supply chains integrating local models into a complete supply chain process model. The approach enables local maintenance of partial models, and furthermore provides encapsulation according to the needs of chain partners.

Part 4 – Interoperability of Business Processes and Enterprise Models

Integration is the timely and meaningful exchange of information among software applications. It requires the error-free transfer of information, a total agreement on its syntax, and the correct understanding of its semantics. The Internet and its associated standards have addressed successfully the first of these requirements. Syntax and semantics, on the other hand, remain as elusive today as they were ten years ago. These are resolved typically by proprietary, de facto, or standard-interface specifications, which, in theory, should have solved the problem, but have not because the costs of development and custom implementation remain prohibitively high, ranging from 2 to 5 times the software costs. Estimates range from $200B to $500B for the manufacturing industry alone.

This section of the proceedings addresses the issue of interoperability from several points of view. Two workgroup reports address the issues of systems requirements (Nell) and the role of ontologies (Goranson) from an integration point of view. Discussions were on life-cycle-based system engineering and how to interoperate across the different engineering life-cycle phases and between their different processes in the enterprise. Emphasis was on product development and production processes development. The second group addressed the barriers of enterprise integration and examined the new leverage that ontologies might provide. The group agreed that such an approach could overcome the most severe of these barriers. A number of actions and proposals have been outlined, which may be taken up especially in NIST activities.

These group reports are followed by a vendor view on the integration (Payne) that considers not only the technical issues, but addresses the human and management aspects of integration as well. The author favours the business process approach and discusses briefly a platform for collaboration.

Three papers address the role of standards in interoperability. Chen and Vernadat analyse standards that significantly contribute to achieve enterprise interoperability. A brief overview of standards in enterprise modelling and engineering states their role to standards related to enterprise interoperability. The focus of delaHostria is on the use of an application integration framework that facilitates the construction of a set of manufacturing application system models and the compilation of the standard interfaces, to support interoperability. The MultiView program (Engwall) aims to achieve a high degree of interoperability of the IT systems for complex engineer-to-order systems, products and processes over their life cycle. Developing data standards for the integrated digital environment and providing a single schema for seamless integration of the data sets and a framework for data access and communication.
The aspect of infrastructure support is addressed in the two papers of Cardoso (Workflow Quality of Services - QoS) and Li (Product Data Management - PDM). The first paper describes a workflow oriented QoS model with four dimensions (time, cost, fidelity, and reliability) intended to support quality management. The second paper is concerned with agent-based integration of heterogeneous PDM systems found in the virtual enterprise environment. It presents an infrastructure with agent-based services to support distributed management of documents.

In his paper Obrst addresses the use of ontologies to support semantically interoperable B2B electronic commerce. Describing the nature of B2B and presenting arguments towards why B2B needs ontologies, the paper concludes with the interaction of ontologists and domain experts in the building of ontologies for business. In addition, some of the tools available for developing ontologies are identified.

Part 5 - Common Representation of Enterprise Models

Enterprise models are crucial for the success of the enterprise. This sentence was very clear for people involved in the workshop, but we are not sure that people in the enterprises have the same view; at least we are not sure about the word “crucial”.

Many industrial users think of models as a blueprint of the enterprise. As this has been the case originally, it is not true any more. Enterprise models or business-process models nowadays not only provide an understanding about the enterprise operation, but also are actively used for knowledge management, decision support through simulation of operation alternatives and even for model-based operation control and monitoring.

It is very important that the user community is aware of this evolution and understands its implications. Whereas in the old days model creation was a skill left to experts, it will become a need for many people in the enterprise to be able evaluate process alternatives for decision support. That means we need executable models as well as a common representation of the models for the model users to enable understanding and easy manipulation of the models. However, common representation does not imply an Esperanto like language, but rather a set of dialects aimed at the different user groups, but based on a common set of modelling language constructs.

The workgroup reports address the user orientation (Kotsiopoulos) and discuss new support technologies for enterprise integration (Goranson). Critical issues discussed include the role of the user and his requirements in the modelling process. Especially emphasis was on the use of current process information needed to evaluate proposed solutions and the use of formal methods for semantic mappings between different tools and models (Kotsiopoulos). The working group explored methodologies needed to support user-enabled business process modelling for model based decision support.

The second workgroup focused on radical but practical strategies for greatly improving process modelling in an enterprise context (Goranson). The group’s work centred on improving user benefits in the context of common models, enterprise context and enterprise views. Major problems addressed were: multi-world views, soft modelling and meta-modelling theories. Several discrete research projects are proposed.

In this section of the proceedings the papers presented address the subject of enterprise model representation from two different points of view: a) the development of an inter-lingua (UEML Unified Enterprise Modelling Language) among enterprise modelling tools and b) the description of related concepts. The paper by Petit compares the expected UEML development process with the problem of database integration. Methodological clues for the definition of the meta-model of a UEML are represented. Jochem in his paper complements Petit by defining requirements and an approach to support common representation by a UEML. Panetto in his paper describes the role of UML in enterprise modelling. It illustrates the semantics approach defined in the UML standard showing the UML semantics representation of some UEML constructs.

The paper by Kotsiopoulos is a response to the call for a common underlying domain theory to address the mismatch between syntax and semantics of enterprise modelling languages. It proposes categorical morphisms of object interactions as a strong candidate theory on which all modelling constructs can potentially be mapped. Semantics of particular modelling languages and architectures can be obtained as specialisations of the general theory. Basic features of CIMOSA are derived as an example.

Innovative concepts, which extend existing modelling language concepts for the modelling of distributed business processes are discussed in the paper by Grabowski. Emphasis is on the capability of assigning objects to different partners.

Hawa presents in his paper an analysis of the methodological aspects of selected methodologies for enterprise integration (CIMOSA, PERA, IE-GIP among others). A set of characteristics that must be provided by an enterprise integration methodology is defined.

The paper by Vallespir addresses the necessity and rationale to take enterprise control into account. Human-based decision-making oriented enterprise control is proposed as a complementary approach with respect to formalised views used in enterprise modelling and integration.

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