Future Internet Enterprise Systems

posted 14 Feb 2012, 09:21 by Michael Boniface   [ updated 14 Feb 2012, 15:00 ]
Future Internet Socio Economics (FISE) and Future Internet Enterprise Systems (FInES) are close relations. At a recent FInES cluster meeting MIchael Boniface continued to bridge the gap between the two initiatives continuing previous conversations at the Future Internet Assembly. FInES has recently published two important documents FInES Cluster (2011) Research Roadmap 2025 v1.2 and FinES Cluster (2011) Position Paper on FP8Orientations - v4.0 (Final) The scope of FInES is defined in terms of spaces:

  • Socio-economic Space: represents the larger context in which enterprises operate. It includes topics such as the social responsibility of enterprises, the impact on the environment and their carbon footprint, or the system of values that goes beyond the pure financial dimension.
  • Enterprise Space: addresses the key characteristics of fu ture enterprises, the emerging business and production models, new governance and organization paradigms, new forms of cooperation: all geared towards a continuous innovation paradigm. This space includes the investigation on new styles for the relationships with customers, yielding new market forms and logics.
  • Enterprise Systems, Platforms, and Applications Space:  concerned with FInES, i.e., with the ICT solutions and socio-technical systems aimed at supporting the emerging future enterprises that will largely operate over the Future Internet. The issues delineated in this space will be aligned with business needs and rationale identified for the future enterprises
  •  Enabling Technology Space: knowledge space that concerns the ICT solutions, in particular Future Internet solutions, knowledge representation, cooperation and interoperability, trust and security advanced services, etc., that will be necessary for the development of FInES. 
FISE is concerned with the intersection between the socio-economics and technology space but it was noted that much of the debate in FISE has been focused on the relationship between consumer, service providers and networks rather than the interests of the Enterprise. Value is most often discussed in terms of consumer value (e.g. user generated content, mobile traffic growth, file sharing, etc) and how very large service providers (e.g. Facebook, Google) are accumulating huge quantities of personal information. Liability is a major topic covering transparency in the cloud, net neutrality and digital rights. An interesting observation is much of the aspirational language used between FISE and FInES is similar, for example, the FInES roadmap opens with the statement:

‘Freedom is the source of innovation, invention, trying new things, and bringing about change and new projects. It is crucial to the long-term success of an enterprise’ (Bill Gore. Gore-Tex inventor)

In comparison, FISE often talks about Freedom of Expression and Choice: 

‘Freedom of expression and freedom of connection are linked. Freedom of expression is not an inevitable outcome of technological innovation. It can be diminished or reinforced by the design of technologies, policies and practices – sometimes far removed from freedom of expression.’ (Bill Dutton. Oxford Internet Institute)

Although the aspirations may be similar the motivating drivers, collaborative structures and controls may be very different. So what are these differences?

If we take the development of a complex product such as an aircraft we can begin to understand the diverse challenges. A few years ago AIRBUS launched their A380 aircraft with Qantas as one of their first customers. Unfortunately, an aircraft suffered a major failure caused by a manufacturing defect. There were huge economic consequences: Qantas A380 fleet grounded, EASA: Mandatory inspections on Trent 900s, 10% off Rolls Royce share price, $93M compensation by Rolls-Royce, $135M insurance bill for repairs to the plane, and the Original aircraft not back in service until Feb 2012. Of course the situation could have been a lot worse if the plane had crashed.

In this situation we see that the challenge for liability and utility of data within the Enterprise in contrast to consumer applications. Regulation demands that aerospace companies keep the design, manufacturing, and in service data for a fleet of aircraft usable for the lifetime of the aircraft plus a few years. In most cases this is in excess of 50 years. The nature of complex product development is that the industry is composed of huge networked enterprises collaborating in virtual organisations. For AIRBUS, this includes 52,000 staff across 16 sites working with a Supply chain of 18,000 suppliers in 30 countries. If we are consider keeping data alive we must consider the lifetime of operating systems, computers, CAD systems which have increasingly reduced lifetimes. But what about the lifetime of a Future Internet service? 

In FISE we are discussing adhoc, opportunistic and efficient service engineering where services are created and are useful for a matter of minutes. It is clear that such services are problematic for long term retention and access to engineering design data. Preserving how data was produced, how services are configured and used to generate data often long after the businesses that operated the service are in existence is a major technical and economic challenge. However, we note that there's potential for the two worlds of FISE and FInES to come together. Increasing complex products such as Cars will soon offer services both to consumers (and their devices) and to interact with transport infrastructures. This opening of transport (and other infrastructure) as potential future service platforms that deliver information to others will provide for opportunities. Not only will this help in the development of efficient transport systems but also the collection of in-service data that includes rich contextual information about the environment will help design engineers build better products. The challenge here is combining the highly regulated and structure of the virtual enterprise with the informal communication patterns of society in a way that brings benefit to all.

The conversation will continue between FISE and FInES at a dedicated workshop FIA Aalborg