Organizing information integration in agri-food: A method based on a service-oriented architecture and living lab approach

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Abstract

Agri-food enterprises operate in a complex and dynamic environment. To meet increasing demands of consumers, government and business partners, enterprises continuously have to work on innovations of products, processes and ways of cooperation in agri-food supply chain networks (AFSCN). Hence, a development towards a more knowledge-based economy is needed. The Lisbon strategy, launched by the European Union, to attain this knowledge-based economy, has failed so far. This paper argues that information sharing and organizing ICT are main critical areas to overcome this deadlock. However, ICT development in AFSCN involves an information integration task that has to deal with technical and organizational requirements and starts with an existing installed base. Traditional software engineering approaches are inadequate to address these issues. This paper provides an overall method for analysis, design and implementation of information integration, taking technical as well as organizational development into account. The method was derived from experiences in a research and development program in the Dutch arable farming sector. A generic integration framework forms the backbone of the method to ensure systematic and sustainable ICT development. Business process management (BPM), in combination with reference information models, plays an important role. The technical architecture and infrastructure are based on a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Attention is paid to the organizational infrastructure that is needed to embed the results in the right context, so that they will be broadly supported and used. The method is divided into three phases: analysis, basic design and iterative implementation. Analysis of the current situation in AFSCN is supported by an information integration framework. The basic design is a first version of the generic integration framework. In the iterative implementation phase, pilot projects are guided by this basic design, which results in incremental growth of the framework. The pilot projects follow a Living Lab (LL) approach. LLs represent a user-centric, open innovation approach for sensing, prototyping, validating and refining complex solutions in multiple and evolving real life contexts. The method is illustrated by an application to the Dutch arable farming sector. It can be concluded that the contribution of the presented method lies in combining different methodologies into a design approach for information integration, based on a sound architecture. The presented method leads to ICT that follows the business processes in real life and thus enhances appropriate information sharing to support a knowledge-based economy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-405
JournalComputers and Electronics in Agriculture
Volume70
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • enterprise
  • management
  • technology
  • framework
  • science
  • chains
  • cimosa
  • eai

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