Data modeling and data management were originally IT-driven activities with the prime goals of providing persistent storage to application systems. Data exchange and interoperability has later become key requirements, extending data modeling to domain models, and data management to hubs and data warehouses. Now, there is a growing demand for adaptable data services coming from business intelligence, networked project design, collaborative design, concurrent engineering, integrated operations and predictable remote maintenance and repair. All these domains have different approaches, and methods for data modeling and management, so the fragmentation and replication of data may still prevail. Providing services for data access, viewing, updating and knowledge sharing among customers, contractors, suppliers, clients and life-cycle service providers is therefore more important to profitability, quality and innovation than ever.

From industry and defense we have learned that a holistic design approach should be adopted to integrate data and knowledge management. In all knowledge work, the life-cycle management of data structures, properties and parameters, values and ranges, dependencies, rules, decisions, and experiences, require in-depth understanding of the data. This in-depth understanding is workspace dependent, local and possessed by practitioners only.

A holistic design approach should therefore be applied, where data models are defined, adapted, and managed by practitioners in a role-oriented Federated Knowledge Architecture. A knowledge architecture is capable of providing the work contexts required for self-serve distributed data management.

Read the rest of this entry »

Business processes are commonly defined as a set of related activities directed at producing an outcome. In bureaucratic case processing, the outcome is typically a decision, which is documented in a case file and communicated using e.g. formal letters. For the management, improvement and automation of some of these processes, BPM and workflow systems are adequate. Knowledge intensive processes like engineering, design, and construction, however, produce outcomes that are far more complex. To manage, improve, and automate such processes, we must design product models and process models in parallel, with evolving product structures as the core and foundation. This post presents a case from oil&gas field development, outlines why a product-driven business process management approach is needed, and how it is applied. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovative design is the most important competitive factor for global engineering and manufacturing. Critical challenges include cutting lead times for new products, increasing stakeholder involvement, facilitating life-cycle knowledge sharing, service provisioning, and support. Current IT solutions for product lifecycle management fail to meet these challenges because they are built to perform routine information processing, rather than support agile creative work.

Active knowledge modeling is a family of methodologies that address this situation, utilizing model-driven application platforms. This post presents an overview of different methodologies applied to implement pragmatic and powerful design platforms, by building and utilizing active knowledge architectures (AKA).

Read the rest of this entry »

Properties define the data values that are important in a domain. In product design, properties and parameters are used for quantifying requirements, for setting agreed upon targets, and for assessing the qualities of different solutions. Product data management (PDM) therefore places properties at the centre of attention, and properties are perhaps the most important kind of elements in PDM standards, cf. independent property definition in STEP, and e.g. the DIN product property dictionary. Design methodology processes are defined according to what kind of properties are defined, related, mapped, balanced, estimated, calculated etc. in each step. Generally, required and target properties are defined long before the objects that will eventually possess them are properly identified or classified.

Yet in IT, properties and attributes are normally treated as second class citizens compared to objects. In database schema, they define the columns of entities, while in object oriented design, they are just subordinate features of object classes. OWL (Web Ontology Language) is a notable exception. It supports property modeling independent of object classes. In the reflective variant OWL Full users may remove the differences between objects and properties, to model features of and relationships between properties. This variant is however seldom applied, because it cannot guarantee sound formal reasoning for automatic execution. In information systems research, Jeffrey Parsons has shown how properties determine classification structures, rather than vice versa. These examples, however, are exceptions to the common practice. This is why our modeling principles include the representation of properties as first class citizens. Read the rest of this entry »

Based on 10-15 years of experience in research and development of model-driven applications, I here propose some design principles for active modeling platforms. The objective is to provide end users with a modeling framework that is simple enough for their use, yet powerful enough to define complete executable applications. While most of these principles are known to modeling experts, few are fully supported by the modeling tools currently on the market. The principles deal with modeling language, openness and evolution, reuse and inheritance, multiple views, modeling tools and methodologies. Read the rest of this entry »

Over the past 10-15 years, we have developed multiple platforms for model-driven applications. Flexible, emergent, human-centered Business Process Management (BPM) systems for knowledge intensive project work is a main focus, but we have also developed model-driven portals and collaboration environments, extensible information architectures, model-driven forms and other user interfaces, visualization services, access control, product design support etc. This article introduces key concepts for model-driven applications.

This blog tries to explain Active Knowledge Modeling (AKM). This approach differs from UML, Microsoft Oslo and similar frameworks in that it starts with the business knowledge of people, rather than the program and data structures of the computer. AKM requires a new way of representing knowledge as visual models, where complex, rigid, software-oriented languages are replaced by simple and agile domain concepts. Read the rest of this entry »