The Reinforced Enterprise Business Architecture (rebar) Ontology
Understanding organizations and their needs for new technology has never been more challenging than in today’s high-tech business world. Enterprise managers are required to coordinate with other departmental managers, direct their personnel and solve problems along the way. Communicating new designs to IT for needed applications may not be in the manager’s skillset. When the enterprise grows rapidly or tries to compete in new areas, a set of basic diagrams illustrating common workflows may no longer accurately reflect the complex environment. What is needed is a simple method for illustrating the enterprise as a whole, interoperable structure so managers and workers alike can describe their requirements in the unique vocabulary of their industry. REBAR offers a novel approach for using key strategic and operational business documents, written in natural language, as the basis for the formal enterprise ontology. Popular semantic web standards, including RDF, FOAF and DC, provide generic terms already designed to convey the subject–predicate–object structure of natural language in a social structure. The REBAR enterprise ontology extends these existing standards, thus evolving a socio-technical model of the functional organization distilled directly from existing enterprise documents. REBAR captures the essence of the unique enterprise in a graphical application that can be queried and dynamically recombined to illustrate details of complex workplace collaborations. An enterprise ontology should unite all defined departmental functions authorized by executive enterprise managers. Additionally, findings indicate the REBAR ontology has the potential to provide a reusable structure for linking core social business functions of the enterprise to other explicit enterprise knowledge, including policies, procedures, tech manuals, training documents and project metrics. The REBAR methodology offers evidence that the enterprise is more than the sum of its parts, it is the bridge unifying explicit and tacit knowledge during work projects across the entire enterprise.