Cooperation & Interoperability – Architecture & Ontology
CIAO! is an initiative whose mission is to stimulate the development of the emerging discipline of enterprise engineering, as well as its practical application in improving the societal performance of enterprises. By an enterprise is understood any kind of enterprise, like commercial, not-for-profit, governmental, etc., as well as any kind of alliance between enterprises: enterprise networks, supply chains, etc. The name CIAO! is an acronym for Cooperation, Interoperability, Architecture, and Ontology. The first two constitute the key themes of CIAO!: the cooperation within and between enterprises and the interoperability of their information systems. The second two constitute the key concepts in addressing these themes. The concepts of architecture and ontology have a specific meaning in CIAO!. Architecture is defined as the normative restriction of design freedom. It is made operational by means of principles that guide the design of systems (enterprises, information systems, etc.). Ontology is defined as the implementation independent understanding of the construction and operation of systems (enterprises, information systems, etc.).
The traditional organizational sciences take a function-oriented point of view towards enterprises. They are analytic by nature, and the dominant type of model of an enterprise, therefore, is the black-box model. The black-box based knowledge provided is sufficient and adequate for managing the behavior of an enterprise within settled ranges of control; it is inadequate for changing an enterprise. Change, however, is the imperative adagium of current (and certainly future) enterprises. They need to be agile and flexible since they (will) operate in an increasingly dynamic and global environment. Moreover, enterprises need to be transparant; they will be held publicly accountable for every effect they produce. To meet these requirements, an engineering, construction-oriented, point of view has to be taken. Synthetic knowledge is needed, in addition to the analytic knowledge, that effectively supports the changing of an enterprise. Developing and incorporating this kind of knowledge in the organizational sciences, means no less than a paradigm shift. The emerging discipline that takes the needed construction-oriented point of view, and that will provide the synthetic knowledge for letting enterprises continuously adapt to threats and challenges, is called enterprise engineering.