Assessing interoperability requirements in networked enterprises: A model-based system engineering approach

Abstract : In the fast-changing environment that we are living in, enterprises need to work collaboratively with other companies to remain competitive. The businesses that are progressively collaborating with others are becoming the so-called Networked Enterprise (NE) (Jagdev et al. 2001), (Camarinha-Matos and Afsarmanesh 2005). In this context, communication and collaboration problems can impact the performance and the outcomes of the network drastically. Hence, to avoid these kinds of problems, enterprises should share their core competencies and improve their interoperability (IEEE 1990) i.e. the ability of systems to exchange and share information and functionalities and use them in a meaningful manner. The interoperability per se happens when two enterprise systems (humans, software, etc.) belonging to the members of the network, successfully interoperate with each other. Thus, the ability to interoperate is a crucial requirement to be verified when enterprises are creating or maintaining collaborative relationships. For improving their interoperability, companies could benefit from the use of interoperability assessment approaches. One of the first steps of this kind of assessment is the analysis of the system's AS-IS situation considering the different areas of interoperability (ISO 2015) and their requirements. However, based on the comparative studies (Ford 2007), (Rezaei et al. 2014), we identified that the majority of existing assessment approaches are dealing with a particular area of interoperability. Hence, we raise the following question: " How can we assess the interoperability, when dealing with different areas of interoperability, in the NE context? " For answering this question, we argue that the use of a holistic assessment approach based on interoperability requirements dependencies could be fit. Hence, we consider that knowing the requirements' dependencies among the different areas, one may identify the potential positive impacts if a requirement is fulfilled or negative impacts if not. Therefore, this article aims at identifying and classifying the interoperability requirements and their dependencies. To do so, we propose to apply a model-based system engineering (MBSE) approach to designing a NE as a System of Systems (SoS). The MBSE is the formalised application of modelling to support system requirements, design, analysis, verification and validation activities (INCOSE 2007). This allows us to identify the SoS characteristics that can be associated with the NE concept and that can be " translated " into requirements. It worth noting that the contribution of this article is part of an ongoing research work for developing an interoperability assessment approach supported by a semi-automated tool. The identified requirements will be the inputs of the aforementioned approach. Thus, in a preliminary work (Leal et al. 2016), we hypothesise that a NE can be seen as a System-of-Systems composed of at least two autonomous systems (enterprises) that collaborate during a period of time to reach a shared objective, where interoperability requirements should be met for ensuring the network functioning. This hypothesis is raised based on the SoS definition proposed by Krygiel (1999): a SoS is an interoperating collection of component systems that produce results unachievable by the particular systems alone (Krygiel 1999), where component systems are themselves typically heterogeneous, inter-disciplinary and distributed systems (INCOSE 2011). In more recent years, Morel et al. (2007) focus on the interoperation complexity between existing enterprises and components systems architected as a SoS-like.
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Gabriel Leal, Wided Guédria, Hervé Panetto. Assessing interoperability requirements in networked enterprises: A model-based system engineering approach. INSIGHT - International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), Wiley, 2017, 20 (4), pp.15-18. ⟨10.1002/inst.12174⟩. ⟨hal-01673068⟩

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