Business intelligence enabled adaptive enterprise architecture
This project is pending approval as a sub-project within the NSERC Business Intelligence Network BIN.
The ability to rapidly respond to changing environmental conditions is crucial for the viability and success of many organizations today. BI technologies enable managers and decision makers to extract meaningful information from vast amounts of data from many sources, in order to take timely and effective action, e.g., to change product mix, redirect marketing efforts, and even to rethink strategy. All of these actions however, are constrained by the limitations of the IT systems in the organization. The difficulty in aligning IT with business strategies and priorities has long been recognized as an ongoing challenge among top executives. This project proposes to use BI as a central component to address the business-IT alignment challenge. The analysis and understanding obtained through BI will be used to guide and direct enterprise adaptation, feeding into organizational change processes, including changes in business processes and IT systems. The project will build upon the latest research advances in (1) adaptive software technologies which are driven by high-level models of the business and its context, (2) BI modeling (the BIM project within BIN) which relates BI data to business strategies and goals, and (3) enterprise-wide modeling as a basis for enterprise architecture and IT-alignment. Many of the concepts underlying all three areas have their common origin in goal- and agent-oriented requirements engineering, for which the project team is well known. This exploratory project will elaborate and test the vision of BI as an integral part of enterprise architecture to drive the IT evolution cycle, leading to high responsiveness, vastly reduced adaption cycle times, and data-driven evidence-based closed-loop business-IT alignment.
Advancement to the state of the art
The major novelty is that BI will not only be used to help make business decisions, but to guide the ongoing evolution of the IT systems in an organization. Most enterprise information systems support the forward path from strategy to execution, automating (mostly predefined and hard-to-change) processes. BI technologies can now provide feedback paths from the sensed environment to high-level decision making. However, the forward and feedback paths are largely operated independently, without systematic coordination. The proposed approach could lead to a new paradigm for enterprise computing, emphasizing closed loop adaptation mechanisms that connect the forward actuating paths and the sensing and interpretation feedback paths, to achieve highly responsive IT systems that are continuously aligned with the business.
This project will complement Enterprise Architecture (EA) frameworks such as Zachman and TOGAF by incorporating BI into EA modeling and process. Recent work in EA has started to incorporate goal modeling techniques from requirements engineering [Quartel 10].
The project will introduce a data-driven BI-enabled approach to Software Engineering (SE) and Requirements Engineering (RE). The vast resources of enterprise data can be used to feed into the RE process, filtered and interpreted through the BI model (BIM). Incorporating BI into the system development lifecycle is a significant shift for RE. Current practice is to elicit requirements from stakeholders and users (e.g., through interviews) with only indirect connections to data. A direct connection to data can make the software much more responsive to rapidly changing environmental conditions.
The project will also help advance research on adaptive software technologies, but providing and enterprise-wide modeling and architecture context. The project will connect various strands of research into a unified framework.
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