Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Model Driven Organisations

My recent work has been investigating approaches to model aspects of an organisation. This was motivated a while back by a presentation on Enterprise Architecture (EA) that I attended and being frustrated with the lack of precision offered by current approaches and the large number of different concepts involved. Work has evolved in two directions.

Firstly, we developed the language LEAP as an executable component-based modelling language based on the hypothesis that many of the features found in current EA modelling languages and analysis processes can be reduced to a small collection of concepts. Current LEAP work aims to integrate intentional aspects of goal-based languages such as KAOS and i* into components.

The second direction addresses the problems that are faced by a modern organisation in terms of its complexity. It is rare for any single individual to have a clear understanding of its information, IT systems, business context and processes. This makes an organisation difficult to manage and maintain. Issues such as regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing, etc., can easily get bogged down in detail. Colleagues Balbir BarnRobert France, Ulrich FrankVinay Kulkarni and I have proposed the idea of the Model Driven Organization (MDO) to help address these issues. The idea is that aspects of a business can be modelled and the models can be used to support key EA issues. Models are good at abstracting from implementation detail which makes it easier to perform key analyses and to replace specific implementation platforms. Models can be sliced and presented to different stakeholders in domain-specific ways making it easier for them to understand how an organisation operates without being a technology specialist.

Taking this idea to its limit, all aspects of an organisation could be modelled and the organisation could be run directly from the models; changing the model will directly affect the organisation. What would need to be modelled? The diagram below presents some of the features that a language for MDO would need to offer:

The MDO provides a challenging application domain for model-based engineering research. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Index of the Interesting

Roel Wieringa pointed me at this article that describes why theories are interesting. I found the advice on how to structure a research article and the different categories of interesting-ness to be fascinating and useful. 

Indian Fawlty Towers

I am currently in India at the ISEC 2012 Conference held at the IIT in Kanpur. The IIT is one of the most prestigious in India and has an impressive campus outside the city centre. Kanpur is famous for the massacre of English soldiers and civilians that occurred as part of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Apart from that, the city seems to be a bit of a dust-bowl.

India is a delightful place to visit and I would recommend the ISEC conference which has a great mix of delegates from Indian Universities and IT Companies. However, one has to be careful in terms of hotels. The very excellent Taj chain of hotels provides a level of accommodation and service that exceeds more expensive hotels in the UK. Unfortunately, Kanpur did not have a Taj hotel and we decided to pass on the opportunity to stay at the IIT, put off by the name 'Visitors Hostel' that turned out to be a delightful oasis of calm, and instead opted for what we thought would be a Taj equivalent. Amazingly, we appear to have found the equivalent of Fawlty Towers right here in India. The glory days of the rooms and facilities were decades ago and the staff seem to have been trained by Basil himself.

Conference presentation is below.