Enterprise Semantics

Since 2004, the members of the Global University Alliance have researched, compared, analyzed and developed Best and LEADing Practices based on the concept of Enterprise Semantics.

The term Semantics arises from Ancient Greek: σημαντικός – sēmantikós – and is originally about the study of meaning. The word semantics itself denotes a range of ideas and focuses on the relation between signifiers, symbols and objects. Semantics (or Semantic) is about making meaning from the objects using the best possible signifiers and symbols. It includes those signifiers and symbols used to describe the relationship between objects as this comparison further enhances their meaning. Enterprise Semantics is therefore the study of objects and symbols used to describe the enterprise, what they stand for, their underlying formal logics and their relationship and correlation.

Enterprise Ontology Concept

The formal study of semantics intersects with many other fields of inquiry, including:

  • Enterprise Ontology – the nature of something as well as the basic categories.
  • Enterprise Pragmatics – the sharing of meanings gathered from Enterprise Semantics across its diverse interpretations in practice, leading towards a universal truth whilst maintaining these wide-ranging interpretations and beliefs in the real world.
  • Modelling Perspective- the impact of modelling and engineering as it most usefully aligns the relevant parts of the enterprise.
  • Enterprise Philosophy considers the fundamental principles that underlie the formation and operation of a specific object (and thereby business/enterprise).

As Enterprise Semantics represents as a set of objects within a specific area and or domain, and the relationships between the other objects and the multiple areas, the study of Enterprise Semantics can therefore be very complex. To address these complexities in search of their simplest possible solution, the Global University Alliance researches, studies and conducts the analysis and development of the Enterprise Semantics Reference Framework.

The framework includes the specific objects, their properties and relations around:

  • Business Model: The link of the different competencies e.g. core differentiated, core competitive and none-core competencies. (See example: Business Model – Hospital Service Provider.)
  • Value Management: Relationship between value identification, creation, value realization as well value governance. (See example of value objects, their relationship and artifacts/templates that relate to the objects.)
  • Performance Management: The correlation between performance drivers, performance indicators as well as performance monitoring for continuous improvement e.g. optimization, effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Business Process Management: Association of the various processes, steps, activities as well as the events and the flows.
  • Service Oriented Computing:  The link between service delivery and its business services, service construct as well as automated services e.g. application services, data services, platform and infrastructure services. (See example: Service Object Meta Model and their relationship.)
  • Business Rules:  Which rule is applied to which business function, resource, service, process and how are they related to application, data and technology (platform and infrastructure) rules.
  • Information Management: Relating relevant information with respect to a given domain and area. Improving information retrieval thereby reducing information overload.
  • Application Management: Facilitating the integration of information from heterogeneous sources.
  • Data Management: Relating and structuring data components, data objects, data entities and data tables and their relations to information systems. (See example of data objects and role relations in the different phases).
  • Measurement & Reporting: which measurements (KPIs, PPIs, SPIs) are use in different decisions and reporting mechanisms (cockpits, dashboards and scorecards). (See example of Finance Scorecard Measurements.)
  • Business Transformation: The relationship between alteration, improvement and change of the various components.
  • Business Innovation: Creating and introducing something new in order to do something different.
  • Enterprise Requirement Management: the relations of and between the high level business, application and technology requirements as well as the link within and between the detailed business, application and technology requirements. (See example of full Enterprise Requirement Management relations).

The first Enterprise Semantic research was published within the LEADing Practice concepts in December 2009 resulting in the current Enterprise Semantic Framework. The work included both the packaging of the academic research and findings into an Enterprise Semantic framework that can be used by industries and universities alike. We bring our expertise into our university teaching, thus enhancing the employability of our graduates through benefitting the organizations they work by being armed with this knowledge. There are collaborations, research and interlinks with organizations such as governments, businesses and vendors. This work has led to a new groundbreaking concept and idea of holistic Enterprise Semantic Frameworks with metamodels and fully integrated templates e.g. maps, matrices and models to enable:

  • Enterprise Modelling: using the metamodels and templates to enable the simplification, description, abstract representation as well design, sculpturing and forming of the linked objects.
  • Enterprise Engineering: using the metamodels and templates to enable the functional decomposition and composition, identifying duplication as well as enabling development, relations and reuse.
  • Enterprise Architecture: the correlation of the object groups and meta-objects, throughout the areas, domains and layers. As well as using the templates/artifacts to understand, structure and relate the conceptual context, logical design and physical execution.

The Enterprise Semantic modelling, engineering and architecture principles have captured so much interest that software vendors like SAP AG, IBM, Software AG (IDS Scheer and ARIS), as well as IGrafx have started to investigate and incorporate our modelling aspects into their methods and or metamodels. Some of the vendors used our entire concepts, while others adapted the Enterprise Semantic metamodel or some of the specific templates or even concepts e.g. eXtended BPMN concepts. Below is a short overview of the fast industry adoption:

  • 2009 our information ontology modelling and architecture concept was presented at SAPphire 2009 (SAP biggest customer event)
  • 2010, our process and measurement ontology principles where presented at the IDS Scheer, ARIS Process World
  • 2010, the Official SAP book was published, using our Enterprise Ontology  principles: Taylor, J,  von Rosing, M.,  von Scheel, H., Rosenberg, A., Applying Real-World BPM in an SAP Environment, Issue Date: 2011-01, Published by: SAP Press, ISBN: 978-1-59229-343-8, Page(s): 694,
  • 2011, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers publishes a paper based on the research and findings around combining our Enterprise Ontology process and architecture principles: Presten, T., Hove, M., von Rosing, M., Academic paper on Combining BPM and EA in Complex IT Projects, Published by: IEEE Commerce and Enterprise Computing Page(s): 271 – 278, Issue Date: 2011-05
  • 2010-2012, the Global University Alliance collaborated with TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework) to develop the profession of a Business Architect, this included the business and process ontology modelling as well as architecture principles.
  • 2010-2011, SAP adapted the process, value, measurement ontology modelling principles into their SAP ASAP Method, thereby the SAP customers apply the process, value, measurement ontology modelling principles within their blueprint, implementation, maintenance and upgrade methods and approaches.
  • 2011-2012: Software AG-IDS Scheer enhace their ARIS process modelling meta model, based on the LEADing Practice ontology concepts
  • 2012, the Government of Canada, uses the LEADing Practice Enterprise Ontology modelling and architecture concepts to transform their organization as well as blueprint/implement SAP and Oracle ERP systems.
  • 2012-2013: IBM builds the LEADing Practice Enterprise Ontology modelling and architecture concepts into the rational suite software,enabling advanced System Architecture modelling.
  • 2012-2013: IGrafx, builds the entire LEADing Practice Enterprise Ontology modelling and architecture concepts into their process flow, process modeller, performance reporting and enterprise modeler software.
  • 2013, LEGO Group wins the Gartner Group‘s BPM award: Best BPM Transformation by leveraging the LEADing Practice Enterprise Ontology principles.
  • Sept 2013 LEAD 3.0 is published having the full Enterprise Ontology concepts within them and has a community of over 2500 certified practitioneers.

We have been overwhelmed by the speed of adoption, and pleasantly surprised by the recognition of Enterprise Semantic Modelling, Engineering and Architecture paradigm shift by leading companies and the method and IT community at large. These experiences have substantiated that we had something unique in the Enterprise Semantics Reference Framework.

With the Enterprise Semantic work in the Global University Alliance, we promote a new way of thinking, working and modelling and governance. The Enterprise Semantic concepts are built into the different frameworks, methods and approaches and then shared and published as an open standard in the LEADing Practice community. Thereby we enable all organizations to take forward these common best and leading principles to identify, create and realize value.

The Enterprise Semantics research contacts are:

Research Coordinator:
Professor Simon Polovina
Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Global University Alliance Coordinator:
Professor Mark von Rosing
Head of Global University Alliance, Denmark

Framework Coordinator:
Georg Etzel
LEADing Practice, Co-CEO

The members involved in this work have been a team that includes academics, researchers and analysts:

  • Business Ontology, Wim Laurier
  • Enterprise Semantics, Simon Polovina
  • Business Model, Mark von Rosing
  • Business Process Management, Marlon Dumas
  • Information Management, Hans Scheruhn
  • Value & Performance Management, Maria Hove
  • Enterprise Sustainability, David Coloma
  • ERP, Karin Gräslund
  • Enterprise Engineering, Maxim Arzumanyan
  • Enterprise Modelling, Ulrik Foldager
  • Measurement & Reporting, Ulrik Foldager