​For years I have seen organisations struggle to achieve Business Interoperability and waste resources time and time again arguing semantics. In my opinion the root source of this struggle is not having a common language.

A common language is not only required for Business and IT Stakeholders but is also required for IT to communicate effectively within their own patch of the world. There are so many ways to create a ‘common vocabulary’ and yet organisations struggle to achieve this. Changing terminology confuses people and does not facilitate the coming together of people. Business Interoperability needs people to come together – otherwise they can’t work together! It’s that simple!!

I feel the main reason is that people get too religious and hung up about their view which gets in the way of effective communication. People get so caught up in arguing about terminology instead of agreeing to disagree and just pick a ‘common’ way to understand. Who cares if TOGAF or Zachman is better! Just pick up and stick with it.

For Business Interoperability to work, organisations must not only agree on a common approach to deliver seamless services to customers but a common vocabulary.  There are some great frameworks available that facilitate this such as the Object Management Groups, Business Motivation Model (BMM) and the Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR).  The BMM helps organisations to put some clear structure and meaning around Strategic Intent whilst the SBVR facilitates conversations around business policy, procedures – business rules.

These are great tools to use to create foundations for an Enterprise Architecture because they also come with meta models to save you thinking about how to create one.  Quite a few Architecture tools today incorporate these meta models which helps to get us started quickly.  So if you can get semantic discussions out of the way quickly, there are many other challenges for organisations to face around the topic of business interoperability.

Author: Christine Stephenson, Enterprise Services Manager, Enterprise Architects

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Christine presented at the Open Group “Enterprise Transformation” Conference in Sydney on the topic ‘A Business Interoperability Framework for Government’ . Here are the presentation slides.

Despite the focus on eGovernment and the delivery of seamless services to citizens, Government continues to be challenged to deliver business interoperability goals. Interviews with Government Enterprise Architecture stakeholder and a search of the literature suggests why government has failed to achieve seamless service delivery. It appears that interoperability in government is largely a combination of bottom-up, standards or application design based approaches. These result in Information Systems solutions that achieve interoperability within the application and technology domains, but not the business domain. Consequently, the public sector operates as a fractured collection of departments, with much complexity and bureaucracy reducing the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery. The Business Interoperability Framework (BIF) draws from three disciplines of management practice and applies industry standards. These practice areas are; Enterprise Architecture; Service Oriented Architecture; and Business Process Management. The frameworks, standards/specifications that will be referenced are ISO/IEC 10746 (RM-ODP), TOGAF®, OASIS, UMM, BMM, BPMN and ISO 15000.

Key takeaways:

  1. How to achieve top-down business interoperability outcomes
  2. An architected framework for business success
  3. Methods and tools that can be used to deliver business/IT alignment