Business Semantics Management


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BSM logo: 3 deformed spheres each denote "imperfect" stakeholders that have a common interest. Together they synergize into a "semantically aligned" community, powered by business semantics.

Here a digest of business cases for business semantics management:

Business Semantics Management (BSM) is a collaborative metadata management approach that I developed in my PhD and is now being commercially exploited with three software products in our company Collibra. and that further extends on the solid theoretical foundations of DOGMA at VUB STARLab. Business semantics management establishes community-based ontology evolution.

Business semantics management is the set of activities to bring business stakeholders together to collaboratively realize the reconciliation of their heterogeneous metadata; and consequently the application of the derived business semantics patterns to establish semantic alignment between the underlying data structures.

In a way, one can say that business semantics management does for information what business process management does for processes.

Semantic alignment is the ability to exchange data and to interpret the information in the data that has been exchanged in the right context and within a reasonable time, using business semantics.

Business semantics are (business) metadata that describe the information concepts that live within the organization. An important difference with other approaches is that business semantics are modeled according to a fact-oriented paradigm that was introduced by the conceptual modeling approach NIAM,  the predecessor of Object Role Modeling (ORM). The use of natural language, example populations, and the description of information in terms of elementary facts enhances the potential for re-use and design scalability during business semantics management.  The following figure shows an arbitrary semantic pattern composed of three elementary fact types within a given context that illustrates the graphical power and simplicity of the fact-oriented approach.

ormsample
The graphical representation of the pattern in this context (from left to right): “
An Order Report is the responsibility of a Warehouse Manager”.
 “An Order Report enlists an Order which takes a Product”.

Modelling methodology By default, business semantics serve “open” information systems, and hence the requirements and limitations of semantic alignment cannot be entirely known before completion. In contrast to waterfall-like approaches that focus on a broad design upfront, agile methods perform short milestone driven revision iterations in order to cope with dynamic environments such as the extended enterprise. Full-cycle business semantics management is established by two operational cycles – semantic reconciliation and semantic application – each grouping a number of activities, as illustrated below.

businesssemanticsmanagement

Business semantics management is established by two operational cycles each grouping a number of modeling activities.

  1. Semantic Reconciliation is the first cycle of the full-cycle business semantics management methodology. In this phase, business semantics are modeled by extracting, refining, articulating and consolidating fact-types from existing sources such as natural language descriptions, existing metadata, etc. Ultimately, this results in a number of consolidated language-neutral semantic patterns that are articulated with informal meaning descriptions (e.g., WordNet word senses). These patterns are reusable for constructing various semantic applications. Semantic Application is the second cycle of business semantics management. During this cycle, existing information sources and services are committed to a selection of semantic patterns. This is done by selecting the relevant patterns, constraining their interpretation and finally mapping (or committing) the selection on the existing data sources. In other words, a commitment creates a bidirectional link between the existing data sources and services and the business semantics that describe the information assets of an organization. The existing data itself is not moved. On the contrary, the business semantics provide a kind of abstraction layer to access and deliver this data in a more efficient and aligned manner.
  2. Semantic Application is the second cycle of  full-cycle business semantics management. During this cycle, existing information sources and services are committed to a selection of semantic patterns. This is done by selecting the relevant patterns, constraining their interpretation and finally mapping (or committing) the selection on the existing data sources. In other words, a commitment creates a bidirectional link between the existing data sources and services and the business semantics that describe the information assets of an organization. The existing data itself is not moved. On the contrary, the business semantics provide a kind of abstraction layer to access and deliver this data in a more efficient and aligned manner.

Tools: see the products developed by my company Collibra: http://www.collibra.com

For more details on the formalization, implementation, and validation of BSM, I refer to my publication record and dissertation. The most relevant publications are:

  1. De Leenheer, P., Christiaens, S., and Meersman, R. (2009) Business Semantics Management: a Case Study for Competency-centric HRM. In Journal of Computers in Industry: Special Issue about Semantic Web Computing in Industry. Elsevier, forthcoming
  2. De Leenheer, P., de Moor, A., and Meersman, R. (2007) Context Dependency Management in Ontology Engineering: a Formal Approach. Journal on Data Semantics VIII, LNCS 4380, Springer-Verlag, pp. 26-56.

29 Responses to “Business Semantics Management”

  1. Disambiguation of Natural-language Terms in Business Semantics Engineering « Pieter De Leenheer Says:

    […] paper was further extended in Journal of Data Semantics. See my related blog in this. In our business semantics management approach, disambiguation forms an important but difficult exercise during the consolidation […]

  2. Explaining semantics and its value for Enterprise 2.0 at the Belgium SAI platform « Pieter De Leenheer Says:

    […] Pieter continued with the how by explaining best practices and an agile methodological approach to business semantics management. I then showed briefly how semantics can be applied to solve real-world enterprise problems, such […]

  3. Keynote at ESAS/COMPSAC2008 (Turku, Finland): Ontological Foundations for Evolving Agent Communities « Pieter De Leenheer Says:

    […] we show how these theoretical foundations feed the development of business semantics management in […]

  4. The Semantic Wave: Messing Around or Hitting the Surf? « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] meaningfully aligns business with IT. To achieve this goal, we pinpoint two essential requirements: business semantics management and data services. Our semantic alignment vision is closely related to what Gartner labels as the […]

  5. The Semantic Wave: Messing Around or Hitting the Surf? « Collibra inside Says:

    […] meaningfully aligns business with IT. To achieve this goal, we pinpoint two essential requirements: business semantics management and data services. Our semantic alignment vision is closely related to what Gartner labels as the […]

  6. The pervasive impedance mismatch between Business and IT « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] meaning of information (read: business semantics) should be described in a vocabulary as close as possible to natural language, however processable […]

  7. The pervasive impedance mismatch between Business and IT Says:

    […] meaning of information (read: business semantics) should be described in a vocabulary as close as possible to natural language, however still […]

  8. Collibra on Business Engineering Says:

    […] start with processes? I believe that this is an interesting problem for research, which requires a pragmatic answer and methodological approach in practice: pick a place to start, and make sure you align and iterate […]

  9. Semantic Reverse Engineering from Business Process Models « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] rules and are more flexible than ontologies in other approaches. There is also support from an ontology evolution management framework […]

  10. Collibra releases the Collibra Studio beta ! « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] customers. The Collibra Studio beta features a full-fledged editor to model, store and re-use business semantics in the simplest way possible. Next to that, the studio also supports operationally leveraging these […]

  11. Delivering semantics Says:

    […] blog post is the first of a series of cases. It demonstrates how business semantics management can help in overcoming some basic semantic […]

  12. Bridging research information systems Says:

    […] this problem, EWI has decided to express the business facts in the domain concerned by the use of Business Semantics Management (BSM). The current scope of the work at EWI is at Semantic Reconciliation, details on Semantic […]

  13. Enterprise Data World « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] Business Semantics have a dual utility: the derived business semantics do not only provide a shared glossary to augment human understanding, but can also be used to automate meaningful data integration during process integration. […]

  14. Assessing organizational readiness Says:

    […] for organizations to adopt business semantics. Except for a set of good semantic tools backed by an agile and step-wise methodology, the organization also has to have a certain information maturity level. The Meta Group (acquired […]

  15. Weaving The Amsterdam Connection « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] a long list of EU-funded FPx projects, and have borne a spin-off company that actually does sell semantic technology and methodology to large-scale industry and government and tidely partners with the big guys like Oracle . Many […]

  16. Magritte’s flirting with Semantics « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] is one of the most important routes of research in information and Web sciences. It is the core of business semantics management and Collibra. The masterpiece (translated from the original in French) is depicted below (I put a […]

  17. Magritte Flirting with Semantics Says:

    […] is one of the most important routes of research in information and Web sciences. It is the core of business semantics management and […]

  18. Mark Twain’s refinement in Business Semantics Management Says:

    […] to Pieter, Business Semantics Management (BSM) is: the set of activities to bring business stakeholders […]

  19. Cure for the Closed World Syndrome « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] in fulfillment of certain business objectives and compliant to a set of regulations. In Business Semantics Management, business experts decide on a shared base of business semantics: i.e. meaning of vocabulary and […]

  20. Collibra and IBM Research join forces in European research on service-oriented architectures « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] Artifact-Centric Service Interoperation (ACSI) is based on two fundamental constructs: the interoperation hub and dynamic artifacts. Business-driven intelligent operation of these constructs will be grounded by business semantics. […]

  21. Collibra and IBM Research join forces in European research on service-oriented architectures Says:

    […] Artifact-Centric Service Interoperation (ACSI) is based on two fundamental constructs: the interoperation hub and dynamic artifacts. Business-driven intelligent operation of these constructs will be grounded by business semantics. […]

  22. Grand Junction Chiropractor Says:

    Wow, this is one of the most indepth articles I have read on the subject. Keep up the good work!

  23. Social Semantics, Hybrid Ontologies and the Tri-Sortal Internet « pieter de leenheer Says:

    […] Business Semantics (a.k.a. ontologies) are indeed crucial to make sense out of this tri-sortal relationship. The Linked Open Data (LOD) initiative is an important first step to set free hidden data, and make access to it scalable. SPRQL endpoints however do not bring much human-driven sense to it. First visual analysis of the linked data cloud reveals the same non-linear graph structure as found in social networks. Hence there is indeed a tri-sortal dynamics. […]

  24. Social Semantics, Hybrid Ontologies and the Tri-Sortal Internet Says:

    […] Business Semantics (a.k.a. ontologies) are indeed crucial to make sense out of this tri-sortal relationship. The Linked Open Data(LOD) initiative is an important first step to set free hidden data, and make access to it scalable. SPRQL endpoints however do not bring much human-driven sense to it. First visual analysis of the linked data cloud reveals the same non-linear graph structure as found in social networks. Hence there is indeed a tri-sortal dynamics. […]

  25. Are you scratching the metadata surface or governing the corporate information space? Insights in Business Semantics Management « Says:

    […] empower business-driven information governance, technical metadata should be seeking grounding in business semantics that are agreed on by subject matter experts. They define a richer contextual meaning of key […]

  26. Building a Digital Information Market Place for Open Innovation with Collibra, Atira and the Flemish Public Administration « Says:

    […] only 37.5%. This percentage is calculated based on the tasks that have to be in business semantics management methodology. Tasks are related to defining attributes and are distributed among stakeholders and […]

  27. Moulding USDL in SBVR using Business Semantics Glossary: Part 1 « Says:

    […] (reconciliation and application) each grouping a number of modeling activities. For a summary go here and for more details see my dissertation. Business semantics management is established by two […]

  28. Amsterdam Universities are Ready to Business Semantics Glossify « Pieter De Leenheer Says:

    […] the Business Semantics Management methodology, they have to assign roles (stewards, admins, stakeholders) and tasks in the brand new workflow […]

  29. Agree on business semantics with roles, workflow and validation: “we’d call that buttoned down!” « Pieter De Leenheer Says:

    […] important ICT software sector, that is data integration and governance (although flavored with semantics of course!). Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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