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The Challenges facing the BORO Program

The BORO Program faces both technical and managerial challenges.

  • Technical - developing an approach that can address the emerging wide-ranging requirements for seamless semantic interoperability, and
  • Managerial - facilitating the take-up of a radically new approach, including assisting with individual implementations.

The technical challenges

... for seamless semantic interoperability relate to both content and independence.

The content requirements can be characterised in terms of width, range and diversity.

The semantic content for any particular enterprise application comes as a piece - its meaning depending on how the parts of the piece link together. So the specification of the content has to span this width. A simplistic example. The semantics of a foreign exchange trading application has to include a reasonably complete range of the objects that are involved in that type of enterprise. It would make no sense to specify the concept of a foreign exchange trade without some link to the concept of the dealer who makes the trade.

Interoperability also has to cater for the ways in which processes range across domains. The payment of a particular premium an insurance application might also appear as a deduction in a payroll application and a transfer between accounts in a banking application. The specification of content has to span, at least to some extent, the range of aspects that a object appearing in one application can acquire in other applications - if these applications are to interoperate.

If interoperability is to be able to cater for different enterprises with different ways of doing business, it cannot prescribe a one size fits all regime - a single standard for everyone. It needs to be able to account for at least some of the diversity in practice that currently exists - and allow different kinds of diversity to evolve in the future.

The independence requirements can be characterised as eliminating any unnecessary dependence on any non-semantic aspects of specific implementations

So the specification of semantic content needs to be independent of the particular characteristics of any enterprises' systems - such as; architecture, applications, and technologies. Changing the application architecture, or removing (or replacing) a particular enterprise application within the architecture, or introducing a new technology should have no impact on the semantic specification.

A more difficult requirement, is the need to be independent of particular business models. So if an enterprise with a new, different, business model needs to interoperate - the semantic specification should not need enhancing.

The extent to which these requirements are met will determine the agility with which an enterprise can redeploy its applications in response to a changing business environment.

The managerial challenges

... mainly relate to facilitating the implementation of the new approach. Before people will sanction a new way of working, they need to be persuaded that there is a benefit in doing so. Before they can start working productively in this new way, they need to understand and acquire some experience of how this is done. BORO recognises that this is necessarily part of its remit.

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