Ontologies for Business Analysis

An introduction to knowledge-based methods for transforming your business into the intelligent enterprise
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  • Lectures 31
  • Length 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
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About This Course

Published 2/2016 English

Course Description

The practice of Business Analysis revolves around the formation, transformation and finalisation of requirements to recommend suitable solutions to support enterprise change programmes. Practitioners working in the field of business analysis apply a wide range of modelling tools to capture the various perspectives of the enterprise, for example, business process perspective, data flow perspective, functional perspective, static structure perspective, and more. These tools aid in decision support and are especially useful in the effort towards the transformation of a business into the "intelligent enterprise", in other words, one which is to some extent "self-describing" and able to adapt to organisational change.

However, a fundamental piece remains missing from the puzzle. Achieving this capability requires us to think beyond the idea of simply using the current mainstream modelling tools. Instead, we need to take into account methods that provide a basis for sharing meaning at both human and computational level, and that are geared to capturing the semantics (i.e. the meaning) of entities that describe our enterprise perspectives. This is where the concept of ontologies come in. Ontologies are representations that provide a basis for sharing meaning at human and computational level, and are an invaluable addition to any business analyst's toolkit.

Ontologies help you formally represent domain knowledge that is accurate and reusable, which aligns very well with your reuse strategy for enterprise knowledge. Ontologies are platform-agnostic knowledge models and building them does not require you to have any extensive technical or software engineering skills. This means that as business analyst, you are able to produce the blueprints for any system or software design project, allowing you to more rapidly prototype information structures and test them out before passing your specifications over to software engineers to implement. Consequently, ontology modelling empowers business analysts as information and knowledge architects.

In addition, ontologies are extremely relevant to the area of information systems interoperability, providing you with the mechanisms to drive semantic data exchange and federation across multiple information sources and repositories. They can also be extended into structured knowledge bases for constantly-evolving linked data that have complex relationships and are held in dynamic schemas, thereby responding very well to changes in organisational knowledge. The thing is - that's just a glimpse of some of the useful benefits of ontologies from a business analysis standpoint - ontologies, in practice, do much more than that!

Unfortunately, ontology modelling is an underused technique chiefly as a result of a lack of awareness in the industry domain, and because tool support has been relatively limited in the past. But this course is intended to be a game changer, focusing on providing a comprehensive introduction to ontologies in the context of business analysis application, in order to encourage the adoption of the approach. The material provided in the course covers relevant background information to get comfortable with the concepts being explained, the justifications for applying ontologies in business analysis practice, walkthrough examples, and other important details that are pertinent for you to be able to hit the ground running with using ontologies within your own business analysis pipeline. Become a pioneer of applied ontology in the field of business analysis and lead the way to telling your success story!

What are the requirements?

  • Good appreciation of the purpose and scope of business and enterprise analysis
  • Comfortable with jargon used in the IT and information systems domain and the ability to grasp technical concepts (but you do not have to be from a technical background)
  • Ideally some basic understanding of structured modelling approaches (e.g. information modelling using UML) and the ability to recognise patterns in information structure
  • Optional: basic familiarity with ontologies

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Conceptualize ontologies in the context of business analysis, with a focus on their purpose, importance and the underlying business case for their application
  • Define and interpret 'blueprints' for capturing enterprise domain knowledge through proper use of the building blocks of ontologies and how they are arranged
  • Gain an unprecedented level of business modelling flexibility, with a focus on capturing formal semantics (meaning) and logical axioms that are useful for defining business rules and when designing interoperable systems
  • Become familiar with the Web Ontology Language (OWL) as well as the basic workings of graph databases. OWL builds upon the W3C specification for the Resource Description Framework (RDF), which is designed for the Semantic Web and for handling linked data that have complex relationships and are held in dynamic schemas
  • Obtain a high-level understanding of the field of business analysis through suitable ontology exploration tutorials

Who is the target audience?

  • Professionals who work in the field of business analysis, enterprise analysis, enterprise architecture and knowledge management
  • Change champions willing to keep abreast of leading-edge methods for supporting enterprise and business transformation programmes
  • Data modellers and information architects (but more generally people who work with structured modelling approaches for data and information) who do not have prior exposure to ontologies
  • Practitioners involved in model-driven and service-oriented architectures with an interest in systems interoperability
  • Academics with an interest in the ground-breaking applications of ontology tools and techniques
  • Not intended for people looking for training in mathematical logic and ontology theory

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Section 1: Introduction

Welcome to the very first lecture in this series! We'll go through introductions and take a look at the high level aims and objectives of the course.


This lecture will give you a feeling of the roadmap for the course. As well as describing the course structure, you'll also gain a pretty good idea of the various learning objectives to be accomplished by the end of the course.


This lecture concludes Section 1, summarizing the main points discussed.

Section 2: Background to ontology modelling

This lecture will give you a taster of what an ontology is. We'll look conceptually, and at a very high level, what an ontology consists of by drawing some useful analogies and without going too technical.


In this lecture, we'll take a look at the most fundamental components of an ontology. We'll introduce the concepts of classes, relationships, individuals and axioms that we can use to describe a particular subject matter.


The representation of ontologies can be tailored for human and machine interpretation. In this lecture, we'll run through the basics of what's needed for being able to represent ontologies.


Ontologies when encoded for machine interpretation serve as logical models. This lecture covers, at a relatively high level, what the logic based perspective of ontologies is about.


This lecture concludes Section 2, summarizing the main points discussed.

Section 2
6 questions
Section 3: Exploring a formal ontology

In this section of the course we'll get to explore how an ontology expressed in the Web Ontology Language (OWL) is pieced together in a descriptive way. The model we'll get to explore is a formal representation that describes the field of business analysis from a basic standpoint. The ontology tool used is the Protégé ontology editor.


In this lecture, we'll download Protégé ontology editor and also run through the necessary steps to get you started with ontology exploration.


This lecture covers the basics of classes and class hierarchies in OWL using Protégé.


This lecture covers the basics of properties and property characteristics in OWL using Protégé.


This lecture covers the basics of class descriptions in OWL using Protégé.


This lecture covers the basics of populating an ontology with facts and fact statements in OWL using Protégé.


This lecture explores ontology visualization in Protégé, as well as other external tools for visualizing OWL ontologies.


This lecture concludes Section 3, summarizing the main points discussed.

Section 4: Benefits of ontologies in Business Analysis

In this lesson we'll get to kick off the more detailed discussions for applying ontologies in the field of business analysis.


This is a continuation of the previous lecture on the case for ontologies in the field of business analysis.


Ontologies address the requirements for achieving information systems interoperability. This lecture presents an introductory discussion of the benefits of ontologies for semantic interoperability.


Ontologies work hand in hand with important IT and information systems methodologies, including the Model Driven Architecture (MDA), Model Driven Interoperability (MDI) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This lecture explores this understanding in more detail.


This lesson provides a core discussion of the cost-benefit implications of applying ontologies within the business analysis pipeline.


This lecture concludes Section 4, summarizing the main points discussed.

Section 5: Ontology development and deployment

This lecture covers the essentials of applying ontologies as basis for the definition of business processes and rules.


This lecture explores, at a conceptual level, what the building blocks of ontology driven systems are. We'll discuss the basic architecture for being able to 'plug' ontology models into actual information systems for people to start using. We'll also get to see an example of SPARQL querying in action.


The MDA methodology provides an approach for translating system requirements into platform-independent and platform-specific models. In this lesson, we'll discuss another application of ontologies in the practice of business analysis, which is to support platform-independent system design and development.


In this lecture we'll get to discuss, at a conceptual level, the essence of ontology mapping techniques to enable the reconciliation of multiple disparate ontologies.


When it comes to developing ontologies, reusing already-existing ontology models is a good idea to cut down on the development lead time. In this lecture, we'll get to take a look at examples of good reusable ontologies in the likes of Friend Of A Friend (FOAF), Dublin Core, The Organization Ontology, DBpedia, and more.


This lecture concludes Section 5, summarizing the main points discussed.

Section 5
6 questions
Section 6: Course wrap-up

This lesson provides some further discussions about the topic of ontologies in business analysis. The lecture highlights the key industries in which ontology engineering is currently being applied as well as a preview of some of key skills for excelling as knowledge architect.


This is the last lecture in this series, where we'll wrap up the course.


Attributions and special thanks to friends and family, etc.

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Instructor Biography

Dr. Tish Chungoora, Knowledge Modelling Specialist

Family and friends have always told me that I could be good at teaching, so I thought "okay, let's put that to the test!" We've now stepped into an age of digital knowledge revolution and, indeed, I wouldn't want to miss out that big party! Contributing to knowledge sharing is an awesome achievement because knowledge is a powerful asset that stands the test of time.

Seeing a student sign up for my course is a great honour and for those of you who've registered, I'd like to thank you so much for doing so. It's a real privilege to have you join me in what I hope you'll find an enjoyable learning experience.

What makes me tick...

"A passion for understanding how things work and teach how things work"

My background and experience in a nutshell…

I graduated in Product Design Engineering from Loughborough University, UK. I then stepped into the world of research where I did a PhD in the area of applied ontology. This opened a whole new range of doors to explore. I've worked across different industries which include both academia and leading technology companies. My skills cut across multiple disciplines such as engineering, technical publications, product management, knowledge management, and business analysis, among others. My teaching experience has involved training and mentoring individuals working in the area of knowledge sharing. I also have considerable exposure in training staff on enterprise systems for information and knowledge management.

What I do in my spare time…

I really enjoy the company of family and friends, as well as playing the guitar and attending gigs. I'm also well into running and taking long walks with my incredibly supportive wife, Luisa. On a quiet weekend, you'll find me chilling on the settee watching action and science fiction movies or, otherwise, in the kitchen making sushi or some other mouth-wateringly good dish.

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