This Article 
 Bibliographic References 
 Add to: 
Ontological Evaluation of Enterprise Systems Interoperability Using ebXML
May 2005 (vol. 17 no. 5)
pp. 713-725
Enterprise systems interoperability (ESI) is an important topic for business currently. This situation is evidenced, at least in part, by the number and extent of potential candidate protocols for such process interoperation, viz., ebXML, BPML, BPEL, and WSCI. Wide-ranging support for each of these candidate standards already exists. However, despite broad acceptance, a sound theoretical evaluation of these approaches has not yet been provided. We use the Bunge-Wand-Weber (BWW) models, in particular, the representation model, to provide the basis for such a theoretical evaluation. We, and other researchers, have shown the usefulness of the representation model for analyzing, evaluating, and engineering techniques in the areas of traditional and structured systems analysis, object-oriented modeling, and process modeling. In this work, we address the question, what are the potential semantic weaknesses of using ebXML alone for process interoperation between enterprise systems? We find that users will lack important implementation information because of representational deficiencies; due to ontological redundancy, the complexity of the specification is unnecessarily increased; and, users of the specification will have to bring in extra-model knowledge to understand constructs in the specification due to instances of ontological excess.

[1] J.P. Bansler and K. Bodker, “A Reappraisal of Structured Analysis: Design in an Organizational Context,” ACM Trans. Information Systems, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 165-193, 1993.
[2] F. Bodart, A. Patel, M. Simand, and R. Weber, “Should Optional Properties be Used in Conceptual Modelling? A Theory and Three Empirical Tests,” Information Systems Research, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 384-405, 2001.
[3] M. Bunge, Treatise on Basic Philosophy: Volume 3: Ontology I: The Furniture of the World. Boston: Reidel, 1977.
[4] A. Burton-Jones and P. Meso, “How Good Are These UML Diagrams?: An Empirical Test of the Wand and Weber Good Decomposition Model,” Proc. 23rd Int'l Conf. Information Systems (CD-ROM), L. Applegate et al., eds., Dec. 2002.
[5] I. Davies, P. Green, and M. Rosemann, “Facilitating an Ontological Foundation of Information Systems with Meta Models,” Proc. 13th Australasian Conf. Information Systems, Wenn et al., eds., pp. 937-947, 2002.
[6] I. Davies, P. Green, S. Milton, and M. Rosemann, “Using Meta Models for the Comparison of Ontologies,” Proc. Evaluation of Modeling Methods in Systems Analysis and Design Workshop, K. Siau et al., eds., June 2003.
[7] J. Evermann and Y. Wand, “Towards Ontologically Based Semantics for UML Constructs,” Proc. 22nd Int'l Conf. Conceptual Modeling, pp. 354-367, 2001.
[8] P. Fettke and P. Loos, “Ontological Evaluation of Reference Models Using the Bunge-Wand-Weber-Model,” Proc. Ninth Am. Conf. Information Systems, pp. 2944-2955, 2003.
[9] N. Gorla, H.-C. Pu, and W.O. Rom, “Evaluation of Process Tools in Systems Analysis,” Information and Software Technology, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 119-126, 1995.
[10] P.F. Green, “Use of Information Systems Analysis and Design (ISAD) Grammars in Combination in Upper CASE Tools— An Ontological Evaluation,” Proc. Second CaiSE/IFIP8.1 International Workshop on Evaluation of Modeling Methods in Systems Analysis and Design, 1997.
[11] P.F. Green and M. Rosemann, “Integrated Process Modelling: An Ontological Evaluation,” Information Systems, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 73-87, 2000.
[12] P.F. Green and M. Rosemann, “Perceived Ontological Weaknesses of Process Modeling Techniques: Further Evidence,” Proc. 10th European Conf. Information Systems, 2002.
[13] P.F. Green and M. Rosemann, “Usefulness of the BWW Ontological Models As A “Core” Theory of Information Systems,” Information Systems Foundations: Building the Theoretical Base, S.D. Gregor and D.N. Hart, eds., pp. 147-164, Canberra, 2002.
[14] M. Gruninger and J. Lee, “Ontology: Applications and Design,” Comm. ACM, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 39-41, 2002.
[15] N. Guarino and C. Welty, “Evaluating Ontological Decisions with OntoClean,” Comm. ACM, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 61-65, 2002.
[16] C.W. Holsapple and K.D. Joshi, “A Collaborative Approach to Ontology Design,” Comm. ACM, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 42-47, 2002.
[17] H.R. Johnston and M.R. Vitale, “Creating Competitive Advantage Using Interorganizational Information Systems,” MIS Quarterly, pp. 153-166, 1988.
[18] R. Kalakota and A. Whinston, Frontiers of Electronic Commerce. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1996.
[19] G.M. Karam and R.S. Casselman, “A Cataloging Framework for Software Development Methods,” Computer, pp. 34-46, Feb. 1993.
[20] H.M. Kim, “Predicting How the Semantic Web Will Evolve,” Comm. ACM, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 48-54, 2002.
[21] T.W. Olle, J. Hagelstein, I.G. Macdonald, C. Rolland, H.G. Sol, F.J.M. Van Assche, and A.A. Verrijn-Stuart, Information Systems Methodologies: A Framework for Understanding. Wokingham: Addison-Wesley, 1991.
[22] A.L. Opdahl and B. Henderson-Sellers, “Grounding the OML Metamodel in Ontology,” J. Systems and Software, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 119-143, 2001.
[23] A.L. Opdahl and B. Henderson-Sellers, “Ontological Evaluation of the UML Using the Bunge-Wand-Weber Model,” Software and Systems Modeling J., vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 43-67, 2002.
[24] J. Parsons and W. Wand, “Using Objects in Systems Analysis,” Comm. ACM, vol. 40, no. 12, pp. 104-110, 1997.
[25] M. Rosemann and P.F. Green, “Developing a Meta-Model for the Bunge-Wand-Weber Ontological Constructs,” Information Systems, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 75-91, 2002.
[26] M. Rosemann and P.F. Green, “Integrating Multi-Perspectives into Ontologies,” Proc. 21st Int'l Conf. Information Systems (CD-ROM), W.J. Orlikowski et al., eds., Dec. 2000.
[27] A.-W. Scheer, ARIS— Business Process Modeling, third ed. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 2000.
[28] G. Shanks, E. Tansley, and R. Weber, “Using Ontology to Validate Conceptual Models,” Comm. ACM, vol. 46, no. 10, pp. 85-89, 2003.
[29] S.K. Sia and C. Soh, “Severity Assessment of ERP-Organization Misalignment: Honing in on Ontological Structure and Context Specificity,” Proc. 23rd Int'l Conf. Information Systems (ICIS 2002) (CD-ROM), L. Applegate et al., eds., pp. 723-729, Dec. 2002.
[30] P. Soffer, G. Boaz, D. Dori, and Y. Wand, “Modelling Off-the-Shelf Information Systems Requirements: An Ontological Approach,” Requirements Eng., vol. 6, pp. 183-199, 2001.
[31] D. Thomas, “Retailers Call on Software Firms to Sign up to ebXML Standard,” Computer Weekly, pp. 14-20, 24 Oct. 2002.
[32] UN/CEFACT and OASIS, ebXML Business Process Specification Schema. v1.01, 11 May 2001.
[33] Y. Wand, V.C. Storey, and R. Weber, “An Ontological Analysis of the Relationship Construct in Conceptual Modelling,” ACM Trans. Database Systems, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 494-528, 1999.
[34] Y. Wand and R. Weber, “A Model of Control and Audit Procedure Change in Evolving Data Processing Systems,” The Accounting Rev., vol. LXIV, no. 1, pp. 87-107, 1989.
[35] Y. Wand and R. Weber, “An Ontological Evaluation of Systems Analysis and Design Methods,” Information System Concepts: An In-Depth Analysis, E.D. Falkenberg and P. Lindgreen, eds., pp. 79-107, North-Holland, 1989.
[36] Y. Wand and R. Weber, “An Ontological Model of an Information System,” IEEE Trans. Software Eng., vol. 16, no. 11, pp. 1281-1291, Nov. 1990.
[37] Y. Wand and R. Weber, “Mario Bunge's Ontology as a Formal Foundation for Information Systems Concepts,” Studies on Mario Bunge's Treatise, P. Weingartner and G.J.W. Dorn, eds., Atlanta: Rodopi, pp. 123-149, 1990.
[38] Y. Wand and R. Weber, “A Unified Model of Software and Data Decomposition,” Proc. 12th Int'l Conf. Information Systems, J. DeGross, I. Benbasat, G. DeSanctis and C.M. Beath, eds., pp. 101-110, 1991.
[39] Y. Wand and R. Weber, “On the Ontological Expressiveness of Information Systems Analysis and Design Grammars,” J. Information Systems, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 217-237, 1993.
[40] Y. Wand and R. Weber, “On the Deep Structure of Information Systems,” Information Systems J., vol. 5, pp. 203-223, 1995.
[41] R. Weber and Y. Zhang, “An Analytical Evaluation of NIAM's Grammar for Conceptual Schema Diagrams,” Information Systems J., vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 147-170, 1996.
[42] R. Weber, “Ontological Foundations of Information Systems,” Coopers & Lybrand Accounting Research Methodology, Monograph No. 4, Melbourne, 1997.

Index Terms:
Ontology languages, electronic commerce, system architectures, integration and modeling.
Peter F. Green, Michael Rosemann, Marta Indulska, "Ontological Evaluation of Enterprise Systems Interoperability Using ebXML," IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, vol. 17, no. 5, pp. 713-725, May 2005, doi:10.1109/TKDE.2005.79
Usage of this product signifies your acceptance of the Terms of Use.