January 12, 2021

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Essentials of Business-Centric Methodology

For Enterprise Agility and Interoperability

– by Risto Kavalinovski

As the line between business and technology diminishes, or at least the paradigms of ‘this is technical’ or ‘that is business’, these recent times remind us again that business is technology and technology is business.

Before, faced with mis-scoping the development effort, requirements creep, change of personnel, lexicon discrepancies between various parties, majority of the time spent “getting on the same page”, lacking a common work process; complaints about design details… the signs of a project death spiral; a promise of a solid foundation based on integrated information; one that balances people, process, and technology shone named Business-Centric Methodology (BCM) 

The BCM is a comprehensive approach for reducing unneeded risk by providing proven techniques that result in an information architecture for Enterprise agility and interoperability. 

 Specifically the methodology provides an organization the opportunity to:  

  • Provide precise communication between business users and technical experts as well as between Enterprise applications and their respective business partner systems,  
  • Address integration problems through pragmatic and semantic interoperability mechanisms resulting in an economical, customer-centric, mapping technique,  
  • Document and fully understand trade-offs and thus provide decision support to business managers, 
  • Hook various development disciplines together, 
  • Embrace expedient (ad hoc) as well as institutional business Communities of Interest (CoIs), and  
  • Exploit the dynamic nature of common mechanisms to adjudicate differences and mitigating circumstances. 

 Web services technology creates the hope that businesses will be able to provide ubiquitous connections among information systems and the people who use them. Information and business capabilities is delivered at near zero marginal cost. But business interoperability does not come so easily. 

Connecting the dots among systems does not in itself create the business relationships that produce value. Technology alone offers no guarantee that businesses communicate in the same business vocabulary or have the ability to create and grow collaborative business relationships. 

To achieve effective collaboration  

  • Business operations are moved from stove-piped procedural processes to discrete integrated services that adapt to the needs of the consumers of those services. 
  • Information evolved from islands of information to knowledge-centric, interoperable solutions grounded on a business-driven approach to metadata management. 
  • Technology changed from narrow proprietary standards to open, standards-based solutions – driven by strategic business objectives. 
  • People moved from being a spoke attached to a technology hub to becoming the driving force behind service features and integration strategies. 

The BCM approach builds on a number of core concepts. Among the most important is that of Community of Interest. This concept follows from the recognition (validated by formal network theory) that interacting entities, whether they be people, organizations or technical systems, tend to coalesce in groups with common characteristics, such as purpose, vocabulary and behavior. In a business environment, the communities may be defined by formal or informal organizational structures. 

The unique features that define one community, however, may also act as barriers to interaction with other communities. The BCM approach addresses these inhibitors to interaction from an integrated business perspective. Working from a formal understanding of the “ontologies” that characterize the communities, the BCM approach enables the definition of collaborative business patterns, which support contracts, the vehicle for formal interaction among the interacting communities.  

To exemplify a community of interest, we can use TM Forum.  

TM Forum is a global industry association for service providers and their suppliers in the telecommunications industry. Members include communications and digital service providers, telephone companies, cable operators, network operators, cloud providers, digital infrastructure providers, software suppliers, equipment suppliers, systems integrators and management consultancies. The Forum has over 850 member companies, including ten of the top ten world’s largest telecommunications service providers, that collectively generate US$2 trillion in revenue and serve five billion customers across 180 countries.  

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