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RE: [ontolog-forum] harmonizing the business processes themselves

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, dodds@xxxxxxxxxxx
From: ewallace@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 16:59:01 -0500 (EST)
Message-id: <200411152159.QAA21493@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

>Denno: I still like the first definition, "misplaced emphasis." But, if 
>you find none
>of my definitions of semantic harmonization above satisfying, I wouldn't 
>blame you.
>I'll take this parting shot: maybe while we *think* we are "harmonizing 
>semantics" of our business communications, what we are actually doing is 
>harmonizing the business processes themselves; that is, eliminating 
>unnecessary differences in the way we do business so as to share common 
>practices. When we do that, we are relieved of the need to communicate 
>peculiar circumstances of practice.     (01)

<soap box>
I cringe when I hear comments like this about "unnecessary differences."  
Not because I believe the authors of such comments are oversimplifying, but 
rather because I believe that some readers of these comments make many false
inferences from the statements.  Inferences like: 
1) If there are many arbitrary differences then it should be easy/cheap/fast 
to harmonize the processes and data models that contain them.
2) The differences must be just in the terms that are used.  All we have to
do is harmonize the terms and we should get partial integration.    (02)

In my experience, all of the assumptions in these statements are false.  
Business systems have the business processes and business objects built into 
them (and vice versa).  Even if there were merely arbitrary superficial 
differences, it would take considerable work to change the code.  Most 
differences are not, in fact arbitrary. Even those that are have had such 
strong influences on the rest of the models of which they are a part that 
models that have diverged at these arbitrary decision points become profoundly 
incompatible.  Few conceptual models have truly identical concepts with
different signifiers (terms).
</soap box>    (03)

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