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Rule-based semantic standards : a conceptual framework for rule-based semantic IS standards development

Büyükkılıç, T. (2011) Rule-based semantic standards : a conceptual framework for rule-based semantic IS standards development.

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Abstract:It is estimated that only 2% of the businesses worldwide that could benefit from standards, actually adopt and use them. The adoption of a standard is influenced by its quality, which is inherent to the tactics used for developing the standard. Other aspects that influence adoption are the cost of the standard, and the understandability of the standard. In this research we are taking a non-traditional approach (i.e. tactic) to semantic IS standard development — a business rule approach. With a business rule approach we aim to increase the understandability and the quality of semantic IS standards, while reducing the (development/ maintenance) costs. Business rules are known to function as bridges between business people and IT people. They can be defined in rule modeling languages which can be expressed in both natural language and formal language at the same time, which might increase the understandability of the standard. One such rule modeling language is ‘RuleSpeak’. RuleSpeak is based on OMG’s Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR), which is an platform-independent model. Business rules defined in RuleSpeak can be translated to other Meta-Object Facility models such as Unified Modeling Language. This is especially important for semantic IS standards as their contents often involve models and diagrams. Managing one set of business rules from which models can be generated, will result in a more consistent standard, which is a key characteristic of the quality of the standard. Being able to generate models from a single source might also reduce development/maintenance duration, which directly translates to cost reduction. The result of this research is a conceptual framework for and an approach to rule-based semantic IS standards development. The approach is based on defining business rules based on the functionality they have. Business rules can define structure, power, and control. Structure emerges by creating structural rules that define the relationship that concepts have with each other. Power (i.e. processes) is generated by creating declarative processes with pre-, boundary-, and post-conditions. Control is exerted by constraining the power (i.e. processes). To validate the proposed approach, an experiment was conducted in which the SETU Standard for Reporting Time & Expenses was translated to RuleSpeak. The case study served as input for the evaluation of the hypothesis which states that ‘a business rule approach to semantic IS standards development can lead to reduction of costs and increase of quality and understandability’. The evaluation was done in the form of an interview and a survey with a focus group consisting of standards developers from SETU. The focus group disagreed that the proposed approach to semantic IS standards development could lead to cost reduction or remove direct adoption barriers, but they agreed that it could lead to quality increase in the form of completeness, consistency, compliance and precision increase. The increase in the quality characteristics can be explained from the point of view that proper application of SBVR forces the developer to think about how a concept is defined in the SBVR vocabulary. Since concepts build on terms, and terms can be used to define other terms, quality characteristics like completeness, consistency, compliancy and precision are enforced. The main conclusion is that applying the proposed approach can lead to quality increase of semantic IS standards, which can influence their adoption.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Information Technology MSc (60025)
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